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Dunthorpe Garden Tour returns

Celebrated event is back after 10-year hiatus


by: REVIEW PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Four gardens will be open during the Dunthorpe Garden Tour. They are all unique and provide a mix of classic and modern stylings.With perhaps more anticipation than the coming of spring itself, the Dunthorpe Garden Tour will return after a 10-year hiatus.

“We just thought it was time to bring it back,” said Holly Coit, who with Brenda Bonnell is chairing the popular event.

Back when the tour was a regular occurrence, it was a community building event for residents of the neighborhood. This year’s event, to be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 4, is a fundraiser for the Riverdale School Foundation and features four distinctive, historical gardens.

“The Dunthorpe Garden Tour promises to be a delight for master gardeners and novices alike,” said Jill Hall, marketing chair for the tour. “Keeping with the tradition of the original Dunthorpe Garden Tour, a fifth residence will provide tea and cookies to garden visitors.”

The first garden on the tour is considered a classic garden and incorporates touches of modernism and whimsy. It was built in 1926, and the property’s current owners undertook extensive renovation from 2010 to 2011 with landscape design services provided by Michael Schulz, a Portland landscape designer. The design maintained the integrity of the original gardens while enhancing hardscapes and usable garden spaces. The garden features a kitchen-accessible herb garden, three-urn fountain, built-in chess board, spacious backyard with views of Mount Hood and the Willamette River and plenty of space for the vegetable garden and resident ducks Cupcake, Daisy and Glimmer.

The second garden graces a 1928 Tudor home and features gardens designed by Craig Kiest that have evolved over the owners’ 24-year residence. Visitors enter the property through 130-year-old wrought iron gates that once guarded the American Embassy in Singapore and then enter the first of several garden rooms that comprise the overall design of the garden. Rose and perennial gardens as well as carefully selected shade plants lead you to the pool and surrounding patio. Unusual specimens of plants make this a gardener’s garden.

The tour’s third garden is at the original Carriage House for the home where tea will be served. This owner-designed garden balances color, light, form and texture, sustaining visual impact throughout the year. The design embodies the owners’ vision of “planting to the property,” with special attention given to selecting plants that thrive in various microclimates of the garden and constructing hardscape features that filter and absorb water. The garden’s intimate “rooms” each reflect a unique combination of plants and design features harmonized into the overall design.

The fourth garden on the tour is at a 1922 home that is featured on the National Register of Historic Places and attributed to Portland architect A.E. Doyle. The current homeowner has worked for 15 years with landscape architect Craig Kiest on renovation of the gardens. Kiest developed the existing garden design, creating a system of paths, garden rooms and hardscape to functionally integrate the 3-acre property and house. Although the design of the structural elements is classic, the plant selection reflects the eye of a collector. In fact, the gardens are documented in the Smithsonian Registry of Important Gardens in the United States.

Tea will be served at the Cooley House, Lewis & Clark College’s presidential residence. Ellis Lawrence designed the gracious Tudor home in 1920. The Olmsted Brothers of Brookline, Mass., one of the most influential landscape design firms in the country, created the original garden and grounds. The Olmsted Brothers designed numerous national parks, college campuses and urban parks, including Central Park in New York City. Guests will be served tea and cookies at this lovely setting.

Guests will also have an opportunity to visit with Francoise Weeks and view her exquisite botanical haute couture creations of purses, headbands and shoes.

More than 100 community members and student volunteers will be on hand to help the day of the tour, either with transportation or as garden and tea hosts. Guests are encouraged to carpool to the tour. Parking is available at Lewis & Clark College’s Griswold Stadium. Transportation by minibus will be provided between parking areas and the gardens. Use of strollers and walkers will not be allowed because of uneven surfaces.

Tickets for the tour are $30 each or $25 each for groups of six or more. They can be purchased at Zupan’s Markets, Riverdale Grade and High schools and online at dunthorpegardentour.com. You can keep up with behind-the-scenes updates at facebook.com/DunthorpeGardenTour.

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