Leanne Moon's home and garden feature rich hues and whimsy inside and out. [Mail Tribune / Denise Baratta]

Gardens for good

For more than 25 years, Leanne Moon has shaped her English garden with a seemingly careless spectrum of flowers and bushes, yet orderly and sprinkled with the whimsy of mourning doves, smiling elfish faces and fairies tucked in clematis tendrils.

Her tidy but entrancing north Medford property presents the perfect house to go with it, causing Margaret Dials of the North Valley Soroptimist club to remark, “Whatever she does here, it’s the right thing.”

Moon’s garden on Modoc Avenue is a centerpiece of the 14th annual North Valley Soroptimist Garden Tour, which will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 20. Tickets cost $15 and are available at Southern Oregon Nursery and Penny and LuLu Studio Florist in Medford, Central Point Florist, and Blue Door Garden Store in Jacksonville. Tickets can be purchased the day of the tour at Roxy Ann Winery, 3285 Hillcrest Road, Medford.

Four of the gardens on this year's tour are in Medford and one is in Phoenix. Depending on weather, the tour can attract up to 200 people, with proceeds going to a range of projects for women and girls in the valley, starting with the Kid Spree, which provides clothes for children at the start of the school year.

Like any whimsical English garden, Moon’s has its eccentric rules, and in this one it’s a ban on yellow, so you won’t find daffodils, daisies or sunflowers.

“There’s no yellow here, only colors I like,” says Moon. “I have lots of perennials and some annuals to fill in the color in summer. … I like the results, that is, if you really take care of the garden. It’s so good for the soul.”

Perfect little boxwood bushes form semicircles in the front and back, offering places for everything else to gather and grow. Everywhere they can find a good spot, birdhouses have taken root. Statues of fairies, mourning doves and young girls abound.

Standing majestically and mysteriously over all this is a replica statue of the famed “Bird Girl,” a standing adolescent, a bit sad or lost in her mood, holding out two bowls of seeds (or something) for winged creatures — and compelling enough that the 1936 original, in Savannah, Georgia, was featured on the cover of the best-selling “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”

Another statue, shipped with a crack in the arm, will be given away in a raffle on the tour.

A less aesthetic veggie garden off to the side dutifully produces lemon cucumber, zucchini, pumpkins, tomatoes, bok choy, fennel, hot peppers, pears, peas and watermelon. In front, berries prosper: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and more.

The Soroptimists describe the other gardens:

• Hollyburn Ridge, Medford. Rock terraces that front this property, naturalized with drought-tolerant, easy-keeping plants. Missing the grand mountain rivers of their prior home in Montana, the owners, along with Table Rock Masonry, have recreated a section of a gushing mountain river in the backyard.

• Roberts Road, Medford. Rare trees grow in this peaceful garden with handicapped access pathways. A red maple shades a spring-like water feature surrounded by delicate perennials, and a tri-color beech said by one arborist to be the "nicest in the entire county" also resides here. Wide paths meander the circumference of a large backyard with handcrafted trellises and planters. Among the trees are magnolia, Italian cypress, Stuardia, Chinese pistache, paper birch and the American fringe.

• Stonebrook Road, Medford. Hand-laid mosaic pathways add fanciful touches to this garden, where hangs the words "Leave room in your garden for the fairies to dance." Fairies, gems and critters abound, and the graveled paths, one of which leads to a swing beside a fire pit, glisten with glass marbles. Beyond the arms of the weeping birch, roses, phlox and peony bloom. A collector with artistic flair, the owner has adorned her garden with repurposed and resurrected treasures of all kinds.

• Amerman Road, Phoenix. This hillside, terraced garden overlooks Mount Ashland with five distinct areas. Beyond the front entry, a side path lures visitors with the sounds of a bubbling stream. The multilevel garden is flanked on two sides by towering conifers planted over a decade ago. With full southern exposure, multiple venues thrive, from the extensive, upper-level rose garden, vegetable beds and numerous fruit trees to the heather-blanketed embankments and lower berry patch.

The tour is the main fundraising event of the year for the Soroptimists, who help support the GIFT program, a mentoring program for middle school girls, Crater Foundation scholarships for local girls pursuing a career education, leadership awards for outstanding local female students, and Live Your Dream Awards of financial support for women who are primary sources of income, and who are seeking to improve their economic status through education. They contribute to Flowers of Hope, which provides stained-glass panels to women diagnosed with breast cancer. They donate to SMART, Ballet Folklorico, Access, and National Alliance on Mental Health of Southern Oregon.

— John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at

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