Michael and Jonette Atkinson have created an outdoor sanctuary on their Bridge Road property. Calling it a work in progress for more than two decades, the Hermiston couple enjoys sharing their landscaped oasis with others.

Over the past 10 years, the Atkinsons have opened their yard to serve as the backdrop for a handful of weddings and numerous photo shoots.

“I like to have people over to enjoy it,” Michael said. “I like to share it with others.”

The willingness of the Atkinsons and five other Hermiston area residents to share their gardens will benefit P.E.O. Chapter DR. The 17th annual Hermiston Garden Tour raises money to encourage and support women in reaching their potential through education.

The tour is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. People may visit the gardens in any order. The tour booklet, which serves as a ticket, is $15. It includes garden descriptions and directions. They can be purchased in advance at Cottage Flowers, 1725 N. First St.; Kopacz Nursery & Florist, 465 W. Theater Lane; Westwinds Nursery, 29957 Noble Road; or from P.E.O. members. Also, tickets are available Saturday at each garden.

While the Atkinsons have some help with maintaining their 2-acre property, both Michael and Jonette enjoy a hands-on approach in creating their blissful space. Jonette credits her father for her love of the outdoors and digging in the dirt.

“I love gardening,” she said. “If I could, I’d be out here every day.”

In addition to trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals, the couple also grows vegetables. Other features adding to the ambiance include a white picket fence, a chicken coop and Rattlesnake Ridge, a play structure for their grandchildren.

Other homes on this year’s tour include the “Simple Elegance” of Kimber and Josh Burns. In less than a year, the couple has transformed their Southeast Banker Drive property into a lovely outdoor oasis. It offers contrasting views and a rock collection.

Shawn and Craig Lockwood highlight the sycamore trees in their “Eclectic Country” landscaping. In addition, their Southwest 23rd Street home includes whimsical and vintage items and the creative use of Rose Campia, which borders a basketball court.

A “Hidden Treasure” can be found at the Joy Lane home of Joann and Todd Chapman. The property offers eye-catching features, including a rock wall bordered by grasses and yuccas, a pair of fire pits, herb and vegetable gardens, beautiful potted plants and a palm tree.

The Northeast Gladys Drive home of Mike and Shelly Fricker has sprouted in two decades to include lilies, hanging pots and large ground pots. You won’t want to miss their “Whimsical Way,” which features wall art, birdhouses, garden figures and a rock fountain.

And, “Surprises in Store” at the South Edwards Road home of Carol and Larry Reuber features decorative trees, a variety of fruit trees, perennials and roses. Also, be sure to check out the statue fountain and surprises awaiting visitors along a meandering cement walkway.

P.E.O. members will greet people at the gardens and answer questions about the organization. P.E.O International (Philanthropic Educational Organization) started as a bond of friendship between seven women in 1869. It helps women by making education accessible through scholarships, grants, awards and loans. For more information, visit www.peointernational.org. For more about the garden tour, call Winnie Earl at 541-690-6381.


Contact Community Editor Tammy Malgesini at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539

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