Rim Gardens Open To Visitors

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Six gardens open to visitors this weekend courtesy of the Rim Area Gardeners.

The Mogollon Garden Tour will be presented from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, June 7.

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John and Carolyn Johnson have been building their bonsai garden in Payson since moving to the area in 1993.

The variety is exceptional, according to Joy Erickson of the gardening group. The tour includes bonsai, fruit trees, vegetable and flower gardens. One of the sites is an "estate" garden and another features gray water designs for flowers and vegetables.

The tour will also include outstanding examples of above-ground planters, clever ideas for fountains, arbors and cold frames.

John and Carolyn Johnson have turned their Payson property into a bonsai showcase accented by Oriental-style garden art work.

"The whole back yard is a garden," Carolyn said. "It's a peaceful garden with lots of huge rocks and the plants we have placed around them."

The bonsai garden has about 40 trees -- some grown from seed, some more than 30 years old, some contributed to the Payson couple by other bonsai enthusiasts who found the Valley heat detrimental to their special plants.

The Johnsons came to the Payson area in 1993 and joined the garden club to learn how and what to plant in the environment of the Mogollon Rim. They brought with them years of experience gardening in California.

John took up bonsai 34 years ago, Carolyn said.

"He became interested in it and I bought him a tree. He took classes," she said.

He started trees from seedlings and transplanted a California juniper that was more than 200 years old.

After the couple retired to Arizona, Carolyn followed John into bonsai work.

Their bonsai garden was featured on the Arizona Highways television program in October.

"Many people told us they had seen the program, so we thought they would enjoy seeing the actual garden," Carolyn said.

She added not many people know there are really only three places in Arizona where bonsai can be found: Phoenix and Tucson, and now Payson.

John said Carolyn's roses are special, too. However, they are past their peak, so the focus will be the bonsai.

"We tried to create something we would enjoy," Carolyn said.

There are a few pots of other plants for color, Carolyn said.

The Johnsons spent most of the 1990s building their garden.

"The garden has developed over the years and is now showing maturity and it's in good condition," Carolyn said.

Art in the garden

The Mogollon Garden Tour has been presented in the past, but for the first time, this year, the tour will showcase several local artists as well.

Among the artists will be:

Jan Ransom, who will set up her easel and paint a floral scene, demonstrating her technique in a tour garden on Phoenix Street.

Carolee Jackson will show a selection of her ceramic flowers at a tour garden in Star Valley.

Tickets for the tour are $5 and may be purchased at Ace Hardware in Payson; Plant Fair Nursery in Star Valley; and both the libraries in Payson and Pine. Tickets will also be available at each garden on the tour. With the purchase of a ticket, maps to tour sites will be provided.

For more information, call (928) 472-9752.

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