‘Labor of love’: Tour reveals backyard spaces, upcoming work at Four Rivers Cultural Center garden

Visitors to the Debbie DeLong Garden were greeted by Debbie Blackaby and others during The TVCC Foundation Garden Tour, which took place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday in Ontario and Nyssa, drew crowds to partake of the bounty of blooms.

ONTARIO — Saturday was the day for local gardens in bloom to be viewed by the public as the TVCC Foundation Garden Tour kicked off for it’s sixth year. The event featured six different locations on a self-guided tour, five of which were in Ontario and a sixth in Nyssa.

Cathy Yasuda, TVCC Foundation executive director, shared her thoughts on the event in an email message received on Monday morning.

“The response was tremendous and we did indeed have some absolutely wonderful yards and backyard spaces! I think this year we really had a variety of styles, tastes and different sizes of yards and outdoor spaces that really makes it interesting for everyone that attends,” explained Yasuda.

She also said despite increased safety measures and protocols related to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the turnout was very good.

“We were just so happy to have the event and give our wonderful garden hosts the opportunity to share their beautiful outdoor spaces with all of us,” said Yasuda. “Everything turned out so well and the weather couldn’t have been better.”

Speaking with Pam Helfrich at the Palmer Healing Garden, one of the sites on the tour, she said that the response to this tour from the community “has been wonderful!”

Helfrich is no stranger to the TVCC Foundation Garden Tour as she had her garden featured in the 2018 tour.

“This has been a labor of love,” said Helfrich.

She went on to explain how the day before, four neighbors were on the property doing work to get it ready for the Tour the following day.

Over at the Four Rivers Cultural Center’s Hikaru Mizu Japanese Garden, the second largest Japanese garden in Oregon according to the Center’s website, volunteer curator Mike Miller described some of the work that will be done in the near future at the garden.

“We’ve got a grant to redo the pond,” said Miller.

He said the pond will be “four or five times as large as it is now,” and that the bridge will also see some alterations. Miller said that the new bridge will be “slightly curved,” but will still be handicapped accessible.

The Debbie DeLong Garden brought visitors who remarked on the themes she incorporated.

“I like that she has a character through the garden,” said visitor Renee Price.

DeLong herself said that when she moved to Ontario a year and half ago that she wanted a place for the kids in her life to enjoy themselves.

“Spend time with the earth, you forget about the world’s problems,” said DeLong.

She said that she started out the garden with a single pond, since then the garden has grown into what it is today. DeLong also noted that her niece was the one who helped her make a “gnome village” among the greenery.

Other stops on the tour included: Joie Torvend Garden, Evan & Dawn Smith Garden, Lee & Susan Barton Garden.

Yasuda, in an email received on Tuesday morning stated that while exact amounts are not available yet, she estimates that the tour raised “several thousand dollars” and noted that this is good considering the pandemic.

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