Tour blooming with natural wonder

Gardens not so secret this weekend
By: Chelsea Foster, Colfax Record Correspondent
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The Rapini Garden’s natural ambiance and deer-resistant flowers offer a peaceful stop on the Garden Tour schedule The Colfax Garden Club’s annual Garden Tour promises to be full of fun, beauty and education for plant lovers this year. The tour features seven remarkable local gardens from Canyon Way, through Cape Horn, and down Highway 174 to Rollins Lake and Grass Valley. Jewell DeLapp, Colfax resident and member of the Garden Club, said that one of the most exciting things about the tour is that none of the gardens featured this year have been viewed previously by the public on the tour. “All seven gardens this year have never been on the tour before. We have a wide variety, from historical gardens to modern gardens. We’ve got gardens that were landscaped professionally and gardens that were done by homeowners,” DeLapp said. One of the very newest gardens belongs to Dell and Ginny Rapini, who owned property in Colfax for 20 and built their home and garden on the property five years ago. The Rapini Garden is remarkable for its young age and its natural ambiance. Designed specifically to retain the quality of its surrounding environment, the garden is a quiet oasis for Ginny Rapini. “We wanted to keep things as natural as we could,” Rapini said. “It’s a pretty free-flowing landscape. It isn’t orderly, but it was planned that way.” About one acre of land is carefully cultivated with Chinese maple trees, dogwood trees, twisted willows, birches, wisteria trees and more. Blooms like roses, hydrangeas, lilac, marigold and petunias bring some bright colors into the landscape. Clem Reichard, who works as a groundskeeper for the Rapinis, has tended the garden since it was established. Reichard said that the most remarkable thing about the Rapini Garden is its youth. The plants and trees have been cultivated remarkably well for such a short amount of time. “This garden is very big,” Reichard said. “For a five-year garden, all the plants are a pretty good size. All the other gardens in the show have been around for almost 50 years, except this one. That makes it unique.” Prior to grounds keeping for the Rapinis, Reichard did not have much landscaping experience. But his skills have blossomed in spite of his lack of confidence. He has been surprised by the acclaim the garden has earned. “Everyone who comes up likes it,” Reichard said happily, “so I must be doing something right.” One key element to the Rapini Garden that Reichard pointed out is the deer-resistance of most of the plants. With the wildlife in the area, they have tried to maintain plants that deer will not destroy. DeLapp said that deer can be a problem for many local gardeners, so getting some tips from the Rapinis will be helpful for those looking to ward off pesky plant-eaters in their own gardens. “It’s a very beautiful garden although it’s all open to the deer. It’s not fenced in at all,” DeLapp said. “It’s excellent for people who are looking to find deer-resistant plants.” All of the gardens featured this year will provide helpful tips and ideas that visitors can apply to their own homes, according to DeLapp. “One of the purposes of the tour is educational: not only do we have educational elements of the tour, but people come and get inspiration for what they can do in their gardens at home,” DeLapp said. “There will be Garden Club members at every garden, and most of the owners will be there also. They will be very helpful in directing and explaining everything.” DeLapp likes the tour because it is informational, fun and relaxing. Artwork by local artists and live music will be featured at every garden as well, adding to the ambiance. “You’ll have an enjoyable day,” DeLapp said. “People go on the tour year after year because it’s always a beautiful experience.” The Rapini Garden promises to be a highlight of that experience with its winding pathways and relaxing atmosphere, which Ginny Rapini is excited to share with visitors. “I love it. We have a huge patio in the back with some umbrellas, and my husband also built a cabana. We like to sit in the back every evening and watch the hummingbirds feed,” Rapini said. “It’s gorgeous. I never cease to be amazed at how beautiful it is.” Proceeds from the tour benefit the Garden Club’s community projects, including the community garden at Sierra Vista, the youth garden at Colfax Elementary School, and planting trees after wildfires throughout California through Pennies for Pines. ------------------------------------------------------ COLFAX GARDEN CLUB 2011 GARDEN TOUR WITH ART AND MUSIC When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27 Where: Seven private gardens. Maps available with ticket purchase; $12 in advance or $15 day of the tour. Free for children 12 and under. To purchase: In Colfax, tickets are available in advance at Evangeline’s, Whistle Stop Quilt Shop, Mane Tamer, Hills Flat Nursery, Colfax City Hall and the Colfax Area Chamber of Commerce. Eisley’s Nursery and Yamasaki Nursery in Auburn also have tickets. On tour day, tickets available at Roy Toms Plaza, at Main and Grass Valley streets. Information: Jewell DeLapp at 346-8149 or