From container planting and vegetable patches to a pond and home vineyard, you’ll find ideas for any scale of project on the Idaho Botanical Garden’s Private Gardens Tour this year.
Just prepare to do a bit of driving.
“The past few years, it’s sort of been in the North End. A prior year, it was in the Warm Springs corridor,” said garden tour coordinator Nell Lindquist. “So we wanted to get out more into West Ada County since that’s such a growing part of the metropolitan area.”
The eight properties featured this year are primarily in Eagle and Meridian. But you’ll have to make only six stops because tour coordinators scoped out a couple of sets of neighbors to include.
The properties represent a mix of small suburban lots and the larger properties prevalent in that part of the Valley. Those who have large spaces of their own can see how some homeowners have made use of several acres, often by breaking the area down into smaller gardens, which can provide inspiration for those trying to decide what to do with more limited space.
“It’s nice to sort of see the big, grand things on a larger scale, but then I think it’s important for people to see something that they can more readily think about themselves doing in their own space,” Lindquist said.
Lindquist, who moved to Boise several years ago from Texas, enjoyed seeing more of an area that was previously unfamiliar to her. And she was impressed by what people have managed to do with their backyards. All of the homeowners featured this year were very involved in the design, planting and maintenance of their gardens, hiring help occasionally but doing much of the work on their own.
“The enthusiasm and the variety of what people are planting and growing in their yards is really exciting,” Lindquist said.
Here’s a look at what to expect on the tour this year:
The 100-year-old, renovated home on the property is one of the oldest on the tour, which covers some of the Valley’s newer neighborhoods. The homeowners have worked to restore native Foothills plants on their 5 acres of property. They have also created several different garden spaces, with names like “The Garden of Tiny Secrets,” Lindquist said.
Parking might be problematic for this stop, but the Botanical Garden will provide a shuttle service.
Properties 2 and 3:
These two neighboring properties are in one of the newer Eagle neighborhoods and homeowners for both have worked to create outdoor rooms.
“It’s sort of your more traditional urban landscaping,” Lindquist said. “In both cases, it’s sort of living large on a small property, I like to say.”
One yard includes dozens of varieties of roses and both are very colorful. You will also find ideas for container planting and hardscaping, Lindquist said.
Properties 4 and 5: Sanctuary by the river
These neighbors sit along a branch of the Boise River.
The homeowners for one of the properties have searched for unique specimen plants that couldn’t be found in a typical nursery.
Their property is also an example of cohesive landscaping and architecture, Lindquist said.
The other homeowners have focused on the area’s wildlife — providing food, berries and nesting sites for birds.
They have tried to maintain natural landscaping along the river and have nine varieties of Japanese maple around their patio.
Property 6: Low-maintenance landscaping
This one-acre property is a traditional yard in the sense that the center is mostly grass, but there’s a deep border of perennial beds planted around it. Lindquist said it illustrates a way to have a nice garden that doesn’t require extensive maintenance.
“When we went out to look at this yard, the homeowners had been out of town for five months for various reasons and it looked great,” she said.
Property 7: Home vineyard
This 5-acre property has been divided up into several smaller gardens. It includes a 100-by-100-foot pond and a Japanese garden. The homeowners grow grapes in their vegetable garden to make their own wine.
This backyard is packed with plantings around its border. “It’s a pretty small, suburban lot, but there’s a lot going on out there,” Lindquist said.
In addition to a vegetable garden, patio containers and an outdoor seating area, it includes a garden that one of the homeowners uses to make flower arrangements.