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Discover An Oasis on The Garden Tour

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UCCE Master Gardeners of Tuolumne County have been hosting their annual garden tour, showcasing local gardens, for 16 years. This year, the event-the 17th-is on Sunday, June 24th, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Wait until you see what is in store this year! I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of one of the gardens.

The overall appearance of Doug and Sally Clark’s home and front yard was only a hint of what was in store. Through the garden gate, I was captivated by a kaleidoscope of colorful perennials, annuals, succulents and roses. Garden plantings include vines, shrubs and trees. Creative accents are highlighted with unique pots, topiaries, delightful statues, tiki torches, birdhouses, beautiful lamp posts, a gazebo, multiple seating areas and a gazing globe.

The serene sound of the waterfall in the pond beckoned me and I discovered huge 14-year-old koi and their offspring, along with vibrant water iris and water lilies. Sally guided me through another gate and into the pool area, where the salt water swimming pool is softened by curving beds filled with dazzling flowers, topiaries and pots spilling over with more color. Surrounding the pool were multiple seating areas where guests linger when the Clarks have their annual luau.

We nibbled on the cherries we picked while we gazed down at the prolific orchard where 40 climbing roses were blooming. The queen of their 15 Japanese maple trees is a 65-year-old lace leaf specimen that belonged to Doug’s Mother. It is thriving in a wine barrel container that is part of the backdrop of the swimming pool and has survived 11 moves!

The Clarks are continually altering their original landscape. They eliminated their side lawn and drastically reduced the size of the front and back lawns. It significantly reduced water consumption and maintenance, so they plan on downsizing more of their lawns. Their garden is proof that a lack of lawn does not equal a boring landscape.

The diverse hardscape includes a multitude of interesting rocks and boulders excavated from their property using a tractor. With the rocks, they constructed flower borders, dry stream beds, pathways, retaining walls and striking waterfalls in both the pond and the enticing salt water pool. The back and side yards are fenced to deter deer, rabbits, squirrels, opossums, raccoons and an occasional coyote (a bear even wandered in once).

I’ve tried to paint a picture of this beautiful garden, but mere words can’t do it justice. You have to see it for yourself on June 24th. Garden tour tickets, $10/each, can be purchased from Master Gardeners, local nurseries, and on-line at

Kathy Nunes is a Master Gardener who is always inspired by the fabulous gardens on the tour.