The Rim Area Garden Club's annual garden tour gives ticket holders a glimpse into the back yard gardens and secret hideaways created by some of the Rim country's most talented gardeners.
Six gardens each representing hours of planning and labor will be featured on this year's tour June 24 and 25.
After Madeleine Phillips retired, she told her husband, Ken, "Give me at least an acre and let me see what I can do with it."
Four years later, she's thrown open her garden gates to let visitors take a look at the mountain paradise she's created at 404 East Deer Trail.
"The first six months we spent just moving rock," she said with a laugh. The couple used dynamite to blast through rock to build the house, so they had plenty of stone to build the pathways and borders that wind around the property.
"After that, we started chiseling holes for the plants to go in," Madeleine said.
Coming from California, Madeleine said she was used to sketching out a garden plan on paper that said, plant A goes here, plant B goes there. But when she and Ken moved to Payson, she had to approach gardening and landscaping differently.
"Here it's where ever you can dig a hole," she said.
Madeleine followed the rough terrain along a number of twisted paths, which now create the borders and garden rooms of her version of Eden.
She's created a tulip bed and lily bed decorated with a wheelbarrow and a scarecrow, which she calls her "Little Bit of Country" garden. Closer to the house, she's created a more formal area with boxwoods, rose trees and a fountain.
From there, a rock path leads visitors to a garden room with weeping willow walls, and later a topiary animal park.
"I have a five-foot giraffe, an elephant, bears, squirrels and a hummingbird," she said. The menagerie was shaped out of trees from the juniper family.
"It looks like Disneyland," said one garden guest.
Tickets for the garden tour, which supports Payson Area Habitat for Humanity, are $4 each. The money will be used to landscape PAHH's sixth house in Payson, which was the community project selected by the Rim Area Gardeners, member Mary Nolan said.
The club has removed all of the juniper trees from around the house, leaving only the oaks.
"One of the children has asthma," project chairperson Phyliss Manthe said. "It will be interesting to learn about the plants (that will not affect the allergies)," she said.
Manthe and five of her volunteer crew members walked the property last week to begin developing a garden plan. The plan will include a budget, labor requirements and homeowner education for landscape maintenance.
"They will be involved in the planning and in learning about the maintenance," Manthe said.
The Rim Area Gardener's tour will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 24 and from noon to 4 p.m. June 25
Tickets are $4 each and are available at Ace Hardware, Plant Fair Nursery, the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Payson Public Library, the Pine Library and at the tour gardens.
This year's featured gardens are:
The Barnes Garden at 910 Hillcrest Drive
The Holt Garden at 706 West Overland Road
The Manthe Garden at 317 East Phoenix Street
The Peck Garden at 305 North Whitetail Drive
The Haar Garden at 301 East Deer Trail
The Phillips Garden at 404 East Deer Trail