Looking for ideas for enhancing your home landscape? Or, do you enjoy visiting beautiful gardens? On Saturday you have a rare chance to do just that during the Home Garden Tour sponsored by the Smith County Master Gardener Association.

Four very different and unique private home gardens will be open for your viewing pleasure and inspiration.

Styles include an extensive formal walled garden, a small yard with unusual recycled garden art, a backyard that combines both traditional and Japanese styles, and a large woodland garden filled with thousands of azaleas, raised bed vegetables, decks, roses, waterfalls and pocket plantings. Here is a quick glimpse of what to expect.

The Babin Garden, 207 Charnwood, in the historic Charnwood district, is documented in the Archives of American Gardens, and visitors will quickly realize why when they pass into the backyard through a passageway carved in a large holly hedge. There is a lot to take in — statuary and other art, grottos, unusual plants, long vistas, herb, cutting, clematis and roof gardens, and several garden rooms delineated by well-kept hedges. You'll find many types of Japanese maples and unusual conifers, and look for the twisted Harry Lauder's Walking Stick shrub. Much of the inspiration for the designs are taken from gardens the couple have visited in their travels to Europe. Prepare to be inspired!

The Thompson Garden, 1019 Santa Rosa, features a beautiful backyard with two different styles. You'll first enter a contemporary or traditional landscape and you'll be amazed that it was just recently transformed from a large concrete slab over a filled-in swimming pool into a beautiful green haven. Beyond that is a Japanese garden that includes several Japanese map-les, a Japanese white pine, a rocky dry creek bed and traditional Japanese lantern.

In the Powell Garden, 6913 Holly Tree Circle, you will be delighted with how the owner transformed a small backyard into a delightful setting filled with a large variety of plants and recycled garden art (Jim Powell is a Smith County Master Gardener and calls his garden a junkman's paradise). See if you can find the goat feeder-now planter, and fairy garden in a repurposed metal fire pit. The yard is full of color and is easy to traverse on decomposed granite and flagstone pathways. Powell also makes extensive use of different kinds of groundcovers, and features many plants adapted to the shady sections of the yard.

The Rhodes Garden, 711 W. Heritage, is a 2-acre sloping backyard with a lot see and walk through. A large part of the garden features paved but very steep slopes and is not recommended for visitors with mobility problems. However, there are many beautiful views that can be seen as you enter the garden from the rear of the Rhodes home. The sloping areas are filled with 1800 azaleas, including many Encore varieties, 300 roses, and perennial pocket gardens. They have a multi-tier swimming pool with two waterfalls, and a large patio covered by a pergola. Other elements in this beautiful yard include raised bed vegetable gardens on a patio near the house, a kid's fort and play area at the bottom of the sloped yard, a koi pond and a rocky dry creek bed. Sheryl Rhodes, chairwoman for this year's Home Garden Tour, is also a Smith County Master Gardener. She and her husband, Richard, have continuously developed and expanded the garden.

The Garden Tour begins at 9 a.m. and concludes at 3:00 p.m., rain or shine. Cost is $12 on the day of the tour and available at any home on the tour. Only cash or checks will be accepted. Advance tickets are $10 at the following locations through Friday: Brookshire's Grocery, 100 Rice Road; The Potpourri House, 3320 Troup Highway; Blue Moon Gardens, 13062 Farm-to-Market Road 279, Chandler; Rubicon Wild Birds, 19456 Texas Highway 155 South, Flint, and the Smith County Extension Office, 1517 W. Front St., Suite 116. Cash or check only.


Keith Hansen is Smith County horticulturist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. His web page is http://EastTexasGard ening.tamu.edu. His blog is http://agri life.org/etg.


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