For the Baker City Herald

Imagine walking along a flower-lined pathway, lingering by a shady pond, relaxing in the coolness of forest-like surroundings.

Experience the satisfaction of a lovely landscape without having to do the work. Chat with master gardeners for free advice and gardening suggestions.

The inaugural Garden Tour on Sunday offers you just these opportunities. The Garden Tour was formulated one snowy winter day by four eager gardeners who work at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.

Inspired by the Historic Baker City Parlor Tour, organizers cultivated a representative sample of garden types and personalities. They finally narrowed the list to seven locations, ranging from eclectic and natural to manicured and formal.

Dealing with drought

Do you think desert when you hear the word xeriscape? You will think again when you see Pam Pettersons drought-tolerant landscape.

Coreopsis, salvia, veronica, yarrow, lychnis and monarda are a few on the plants Pam recently planted where her lawn used to be. Lemon, creeping and flowering thymes provide borders and intriguing fragrance.

Birdsong and fountains

Another natural-looking yard belongs to Bob and Gayla Northman. Their stucco cottage is a solar design nestled in a leafy setting. A wooden arbor becomes a nearly solid wall of vining grapes and ivy. On the other side, ivy frames an inviting covered wooden bench built into the arbor.

Many of the flowers are planted for their attractiveness to wild fauna. Scarlet runner beans, coral bells, poker plant and bee balm attract hummingbirds in particular.

A bit of England in Baker City

Flowers beyond your imagination await you in Patty Ballew's garden. When Patty bought her house in 1993, she told the neighbors that one day she would turn the large empty lot into a park.

Starting from one corner, her work has progressed to the point that she has done just that. Her Old English-style garden is criss-crossed with paths leading to a large goldfish pond and waterfall or to a lovely garden shed.

A relaxing fish pond

Another pond on the tour belongs to Bruce Davis. Bruce grew up in Seattle and missed having water in his life, so he created his own source. He dug his 9-by-10-foot pond by hand and has filled it with exotic koi and aquatic plants. Koi, or Japanese goldfish, come in numerous varieties.

This water garden includes water lilies, cattails and water hyacinth. A bonsai juniper graces the perimeter.

A mixture of flora and fauna

Dorothy Joseph describes her yard as a lot of mish mosh. When she acquired her house three years ago, it was a fenced-in nothing.

Since then she has been transforming it into a whimsical showcase. Treasures collected from years of garage sales pepper the flower beds. An elf peeks from behind a begonia. Owl and quail nestle in a planter. A family of cats tumble in a flower bed.

A backyard smorgasbord

From eclectic to designed, Dick Haynes says he is not the type to plan everything, but his yard appears to have been well thought out.

The lush Kentucky bluegrass borders immaculate vegetable gardens and well-organized flower beds. These plants are incredibly healthy and of unbelievable size. Dick admits the hubbard squash are taking over the world, but every plant seems to be more than thriving.

A lot of color in a small space

Susan and Don Crompton have lived in their English Tudor house for a little more than a year, but they have worked magic in that period of time.

An old-fashioned flower bed immediately catches the attention with foxglove, Canterbury bells, oxeye daisies and digitalis. Surprises await upon closer inspection of what seems to be a fairly small yard.