Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
Claire Freedman calls the area in the front of her home her English garden. The home is featured on the Hidden Garden Benefit Tour.

PROVO — When garden aficionados tour Claire and Eugene Freedman's private gardens on Friday or Saturday, they can expect a greeting of purple irises mixed with colorful fuschias, lavender, veronica, roses, bachelor's button and even parsley.

The Freedmans' English garden starts the tour that surrounds their quaint rock- and wood-framed house perched atop a hill overlooking Utah Valley. Claire Freedman's aunt, Hollywood film clothing designer Rosemarie Reed, once lived there.

"This will be a mass of color in June," Claire Freedman said.

The Freedman garden is new to this year's Utah Valley Healthcare Foundation's Hidden Garden Benefit Tour, now in its 13th year.

"They've been after us for years," Eugene Freedman said of the foundation's effort to have them show their garden, usually reserved for family, friends and neighbors.

Every year Claire Freedman likes to experiment with new plants, so this year new decorative grasses blend in with the other plants in the gardens. She also planted a new kind of delphinium, while begonias are also new this year. Snapdragons and petunias fill in with color. Low-spreading alyssum borders the garden, getting ready to spill onto the walkway.

"Most are perennials. I fill in with annuals," she said.

Her summer garden brightens the pool area with its color, while the hill on the west side glows with zinnias. Several small patio gardens surround her patio and deck, where she also mixes in strawberry plants.

Sitting on five acres, much of it hillside, the Freedmans landscaped about an acre and a half. Included are mature pines and scrub oak. They also have two pluot trees, a blend of plum and apricot, and a new zelkova tree. Other trees include apple and maple.

"Oak is everywhere," Claire Freedman said.

To the side of and a few feet away from the garage is the Inca garden, which includes seed-grown marigolds, soapwort and sedum. A weeping pussy willow stands guard in the center of the circular garden. Other gardens, including an island garden surrounded by driveway, have a mix of bishop's weed and vinca.

"Both seem to be happy together, which is a surprise," Claire Freedman said.

With every garden — this year the tour has 10 of them from Provo to Springville — is a mystery flower. Patrons get to guess what it is and can win prizes.

The Freedmans' mystery flower "is sure to stump them," Claire Freedman said.

One of her gardens came with a surprise this year — cosmos sprang up from last year's seed.

"It's never happened before," she said.

All proceeds from this year's tour support the Heart Center of Excellence at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.

Ticketholders gain entrance to the Hidden Garden Benefit Tour from Provo south to Springville, a printed guide and free gardening workshops at Central Utah Gardens. Friday classes are by Joy Bossi, garden consultant and radio-television personality.

Her classes are:

• 10 a.m. — Easy Ways to Make Your Landscape More Edible

• 11 a.m. — A Little Spice and a Lot of Flavor — That's What You Get From Herbs

On Saturday, classes by Rob Larkin of The Rose Shop and Randy Miller of Hyde Park Nursery are:

• 8 a.m. — Cold-Hardy Exotics for Utah

• 9 a.m. — Container Gardening

Live entertainment is at various times at selected gardens.


E-mail: [email protected]