Magic of Water Garden Tour on tap

For those hungry to get tips on garden upgrades, this weekend's Soroptimist tour isn't the only game in town; the Oregon Conservatory of Performing Arts holds its annual Magic of Water Garden Tour, with proceeds benefiting Southern Oregon Year-Round Theater School for Youth.

"The tour is a chance to sneak a peek at some of the most imaginative water gardens in the region, coming in all sizes and shapes, each backyard reflecting the personality of its owners and designers," said organizer Carrie Gamache.

The tour is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, May 23, starting from Porters restaurant, 147 N. Front St., in Medford. The cost is $12. Tickets are available at Wild Birds Unlimited or at Porters on the day of the event. Each stop on the tour will feature original art from the Studio at Living Opportunities, formerly Studio Sfumato.

One of the main stops, the home of Terry Brown off North Phoenix Road, has been designed to mask the noise of that increasingly busy highway. The home's pond has lots of goldfish, waterfalls, water lilies and lotus, and the yard sports a garden next to it, Brown says.

A water garden is work to make and work to keep up, she says, especially to keep fish alive and algae under control, but "it's wonderful and we're loving it. The water sound is very pleasant and the fish come when called."

At the eight stops on the self-guided tour, you'll find:

  • Brilliant dollops of color in the red, purple, blue, orange and yellow flowers that include tiger lilies, poppies and geraniums; imaginative answers to low-maintenance landscaping; a pond with seven fish, offering escape from suburbia.
  • Asian inspiration in a grand entrance; a Japanese-style bridge with waterways on either side.
  • A lush, forested feel on a small city lot.
  • A garden ripe for entertaining, overlooking Rogue Valley Country Club golf course. Wrought-iron fences frame the landscaping with a modern, circular water feature highlighted with a huge pond and waterfall created by Andreatta Waterscapes.
  • A Victorian estate, with a path through a meandering stream that feeds a big pond with lots of water lilies and fish; rose garden and tall privacy hedge equal serenity.
  • The tour's showcase home has a huge pond with 75 koi and goldfish; a tiered rock façade offers play spaces for frisky cats and a dog.
  • A steep backyard on a country hillside, shaped into an oasis with waterfalls.

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