Annual Water Garden Tour flows from the Pear Station

For Richard Jarel, it’s not enough that his Medford front yard is alive with koi and pretty plants. It has to be constantly in motion, as wind and water animate his intricate and charming kinetic sculptures.

One of 10 stops on the annual Water Garden Tour that runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 1, sponsored by the Oregon Conservatory of Performing Arts, Jarel’s whimsical and ingenious sculptures capture the eye and enchant the mind as you try to follow the machinations of what seem to be perpetual-motion devices.

“This is heaven,” says Jarel, a refugee from a Hollywood career that saw him craft the masks of the “Power Rangers” and the flying cabs of “The Fifth Element.”

Koi fish cruise the pond, maples whisper above and waterfalls trickle their way around the yard, filling squarish cups and making wheels turn on one sculpture, while on another creation, the wind turns a cupped wheel, making a fish raise a sail on its back.

Jarel, who created the sculpture of salmon erected by Medford City Hall in January, has worked on his peaceful garden just a few doors off busy Crater Lake Avenue for four years. It was created by Andreatta Waterscapes and features iris, wild grasses, ferns, rhodies, tiger lilies, dogwood and Japanese maple.

Originally inspired by the imaginative special effects of the first Star Wars in 1977, Jarel has gone on to a career making fantastical toys, vehicles, mobiles and action figures for movies, including “Conan the Barbarian” and “Jungle Book 2,” as well as toy companies, events and magazines.

“It’s so important to know you can do and be whatever you want to be,” he says, adding that his next challenge is to build a heron that will keep other predatory herons from diving down and eating his koi.

The conservatory, a nonprofit children’s theater group now in its 10th year, devotes all proceeds to scholarships for kids. Tickets are on sale at the Pear Station at Stewart and Central in Medford, which is the launching point for the tour and will offer wine tasting.

“It’s a fun way to spend a fun afternoon — looking in people’s backyards at water oases with gorgeous views of the valley — and it’s concentrated this year in east Medford to make the tour easier,” says tour chairwoman Carrie Gamache.

The tour also presents these water features:

* Koi pond with safety house for fish on what was, 10 years ago, a hard-packed lot, but has since been landscaped by Andreatta. On Blue Blossom Drive.

* Asian-themed garden created 25 years ago on East Barnett Road. Cascades of water over quartz flagstone and river rock. Pond flanked by huge boulders, ornamental trees, bright floral colors, full views.

* Another Andreatta work, this one on Old Cherry Lane, features natural filtering through bogs, serene waterfalls and pond, 60 goldfish and 15 koi. Pond is 80-feet-by-56-feet and swimmable.

* Behind a historic home on Oakdale, this garden resides beneath statuesque trees. A granny cottage is reminiscent of Snow White’s pad. Waterfall over flat slabs into kidney-shaped swimming pool, surrounded by big boulders.

* Two-acre wooded garden with rare trees and shrubs, three water features. Former home of Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery, on Cummings Lane. Lotus plants, collection of unusual Japanese maple cultivars. Extensive garden trails to many garden rooms.

* Hillside terraced garden with multi-layered water features and a swimming pool. It “offers many facets of enjoyment as you let the sounds flow over your senses.” An example of how to shape a steep, difficult area into a meditative paradise.

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