Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Walkable adventure in Hailey

Home gardens from the exotic to the bountiful

Express Staff Writer

Courtesy photo by Gretchen Wagner. The front yard of landscape designer Dean Hernandez and his wife Amy Boyer of Hailey. The setting is a study of textures, using different colors and scales of rocks and gravel with tall grasses to frame the front porch.

Friends of the Hailey Public Library have been beating the bushes around Hailey making sure to flush out the year's most interesting gardens to include in their annual fundraising tour, which will be open to the public Saturday, July 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Hailey Garden Tour is a walkable adventure with guests strolling in shady old Hailey, visiting 11 residential gardens with exotic sun-loving vegetables, garden rooms, carefully curated collections of flowers, drought-tolerant plants, architectural gardens, xeriscape and other surprises.

There are a couple of projects in the works to illustrate some of the process and work involved in transforming a garden.  Six commercial and community gardens on the tour demonstrate how local businesses and nonprofits shine and give back with beauty, edibles and opportunity. 

Local writer Eleanor Jewitt and architect Gretchen Wagner spent time with the gardeners and caretakers whose foliage was selected, getting to know the spirit of each space and articulating a synopsis and photographs for guests to familiarize themselves with some of the not so obvious in the gardens.

"It takes a lot of visits and conversations for the essence of each year's tour to emerge," Wagner said. "Many gardens have old sheds that have been on the property for decades and the owners can remember their forebears' attachment to the neighborhood and the land. There is an extremely strong sense of place here."

Jewitt was impressed by the variety among the gardens.


"Traditional flower gardens that require many hours of weekly upkeep; small, efficient growing models/ideas/solutions; native, H2O-efficient landscapes; historical homes/yards in old Hailey," she stated in an email. "It won't simply be one pretty, manicured English-style garden after another."

Two of her personal favorites: "While all of the gardens are unique and beautiful, I think the most unique and different has to be Morgan Buckert and Paddy McIlvoy's ... with rows of beds going right up to the road. They are experimenting with a number of rare and exotic fruits and vegetables from around the world (from seed). They don't waste a square inch of their small lot ... very serious growers."

Another spectacular yard and garden "has to be Helen Stone and Ben Schepps'. Helen is a professional gardener but the massiveness and variety of her own garden is impressive, entirely do-it-yourself, with a very cool, developing high-altitude rock garden."

The Hailey Library is also a stop on the tour where participants can obtain a new brochure titled "An Old Hailey Walking Tour," published by the Hailey Historical Preservation Committee and the Blaine County Historical Museum. People can follow it concurrently with the tour. There will also be local historians and information on hand to talk about the architecture of old Hailey as well as take-home tips and information on the things seen along the tour. The Mallory historic photo collection is worth a look while visiting the library.

"It is fitting that we are featuring the Old Hailey Walking Tour in conjunction with the gardens," Wagner said. "Both the buildings and the landscapes in this neighborhood are the living history of Hailey. Some of the trees are from the 19th century and heirloom plants have been passed down for generations."

Live music lilting through the air and lemonade and ice cream vendors will sweeten the old-timey feel. The Blaine County Historical Museum at 218 N. Main St. will open at 11 a.m. to round-out the experience.

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