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6 local gardens featured in Master Gardeners' tour

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips

Master Gardener Julie Foster sits in the nearly one acre garden in her backyard on Wednesday. Foster's garden is one of six chosen to be displayed in the Gwinnett County Master Gardeners' Summer Garden Tour this Saturday. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at any of the homes the day of the tour.

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips Master Gardener Julie Foster sits in the nearly one acre garden in her backyard on Wednesday. Foster's garden is one of six chosen to be displayed in the Gwinnett County Master Gardeners' Summer Garden Tour this Saturday. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at any of the homes the day of the tour.

NORCROSS -- The backyard at 498 Ridgecrest Drive in Norcross was a blank slate when Tom and Julie Foster bought the house there in 2007.

Three years later, the historic home fronts a garden area filled with hydrangeas, kerria, Fairy rose, three varieties of viburnum and a number of perennials -- "a little bit of everything," Julie Foster said -- relocated from the Fosters' previous home.

She also grows raspberries, blueberries, a fig tree and an herb and vegetable garden in sunny spots throughout the backyard.

The Fosters' garden is one of six featured on the Gwinnett Master Gardeners' Summer Garden Tour this year.

After a two-year hiatus during a season of particularly severe drought in Georgia, the tours have resumed highlighting some of the most spectacular gardens in Gwinnett and the green thumbs that have created them. Here's a look what guests can expect:

* The Pearson Home at 1405 Natchez Way, Grayson -- This woodland garden is tucked away in a cul-de-sac and includes paths leading to multi-level ponds surrounded by lush plantings of camellias, Japanese maples, hydrangeas, ferns and more. An old southern bottle tree and other yard art provide a touch of whimsy. A courtyard garden with an arbor off the home's side entrance is used for entertaining. A tiered vegetable garden is located conveniently close to the kitchen.

* The Pable Home at 3772 Lake Jackson Court, Buford -- Award-winning artist and garden designer Shannon Pable will opens her home and woodland garden for tours. The interior of her home includes Trompe L'Oeils, murals and faux paintings throughout. The garden includes a culinary and medicinal herb garden room surrounding a man-made pond, a succulent and conifer garden, a bird and butterfly garden and mossy pathways leading to a Japanese garden planted with plants native to the Southeastern United States. Around a curved path, guests will find a unique vegetable garden and a whimsical Fern and Fairy Walk featuring native ferns. Frog Alley features hostas and ferns and a natural woodland stream bank covered in yellowroot and naturalized ferns. Hydrangea Falls is a newly created hillside garden of hydrangeas. The two-acre garden is a certified wildlife habitat through the National Wildlife Federation.

No spike heels are allowed in the garden due to the delicate mossy trails.

* The Jones Home, adjacent to the Pable Home in Buford -- Guests can experience the making of a garden here as a woodland backyard is transformed into a serene woodland garden. From the landscape design, guests can see the creation of garden rooms for entertaining, dining al fresco or an evening fire around the fire pit.

* The Mason Home at 5612 Hidden Harbor Drive, Gainesville -- Described as a tropical paradise on the lake and a must-see for nature lovers, lush plantings cover the property with ground covers like carpet throughout. Meandering paths wind through the front and back gardens leading to vignettes and ponds filled with koi.

* The Adams Home at 5593 Hidden Harbor Trail, Gainesville -- The front of this home is filled with hostas, hydrangeas, vegetables and ferns.

One highlight is an established Japanese maple. A front courtyard is accented by an ornamental gate, potted plants and whimsical wall art. Moving to the lake side of the home, the owners have added a koi pond, a rock garden and a woodland iris bed with several gardenias.

Organizers suggested starting the tour at the homes in Gainesville and ending in either Norcross or Grayson. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at any of the homes on the tour. Proceeds will fund community projects.