An old-fashioned sign with an intricately carved Dutch windmill design announces in elegant letters the name of the close-knit neighborhood beyond.
The area along 22nd Avenue is so peaceful you can hear the whisper of wind through the linden trees, for which the street is named. This time of year, the lindens are bursting with star-shaped blossoms that infuse the air with a sweet, sharp smell reminiscent of honey and sunshine.
Dozens of carefully orchestrated gardens are also in full bloom, adding mosaics of color to the existing aesthetic of the neighborhood’s homes, inspired by cottage-style, French and English architecture.
Many of the families have lived there for decades. They plan to retire there, in the midst of the quiet beauty and tranquility. They remember community barbecues, evenings spent with laughter and s’mores around fire pits, lazy afternoons of neighborhood swimming. They described Linden Way as a safe haven where house purchases are for lifetimes, where neighbors wave to each other and become true and lifelong friends, where children can still be seen playing outside.
Many of the homeowners are aware of the mystique the street holds for other city residents. For the first time in the neighborhood’s history, they’re welcoming outsiders to see the community they’ve created.
The Linden Way Garden Tour is set for Saturday, June 15 — a one-day-only opportunity for the public to tour the gardens and the neighborhood.
Tickets can be purchased for $30 on-site the day of the tour, at the Yakima Area Arboretum, or online at www.ahtrees.org. Parking is available on site. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Yakima Area Arboretum.
Stephanie Clevenger, one of the event’s coordinators, said that those who show up at Linden Way on the 15h will receive a wristband that allows access to all of the front gardens, and most of the back gardens, at the 22 homes along the quarter-mile stretch of the street.
Clevenger said the event has opened up into something much more than a typical garden tour.
“These are people who have raised their families here, who are very close-knit. Unless you know someone, you don’t drive down this street,” she said. “They’ve never opened this street before. To get this offering, of the day, has been amazing.”
Attendees also will receive a map of the street showing which backyard gardens are available to view. Then they will be able to wander along the street at will, at their own pace. Homeowners will be allowed to choose how much they want to interact with members of the public on the tour.
Clevenger, who has opened her home and gardens to strangers on other tours, said the experience has always been very positive.
“A lot of those on garden tours are serious gardeners, master gardeners,” she said. “They are so happy to be there, seeing it.”
A sneak peek
Mitch Evans, a homeowner on Linden Way who also will be hosting a “Wine Down” event following the tour, said he had done garden tours for years at his former home in Kirkland.
The “Blue Garden” at the Lotus Garden in Santa Barbara, Calif., inspired Evans’ Linden Way garden, which holds Blue Atlas cedars, blue hydrangeas, and hundreds of Blue Angel hostas. Amid the monochrome, there are also splashes of other colors from variegated dogwoods, irises, magnolias and daphnes.
Evans said he’s happy to open his gardens to the public for the Linden Way tour, particularly because proceeds benefit the arboretum, where he volunteers.
“People just want to see what other people do, and for some reason this street just has this mystique,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want to surround themselves with this beauty?”
Evans, who helped gain the permission of the street’s other homeowners, said some were wary of allowing access to their gardens or shared concern that their gardens weren’t yet in perfect shape. To quell those doubts, he shared a story that helped him in his early days of showing his own gardens, from an 88-year-old garden club member.
“She told me, ‘You’re the only person who sees what’s not yet been done,’” he recalled. “I’ve been telling that to everyone on the street. People on this tour are going to see what you have accomplished.”
Evans added that many people on garden tours are gardeners themselves, who know to be respectful as they walk through others’ properties and generally are just appreciative to see the gardens.
Sara Holtzinger, another Linden Way homeowner who lives in a 1932 French Normandy-style house with sweeping arches and a cottage feel, considers herself a private person. But she’s opening both the front and back gardens of her homes to the public because she wants to support the work of the arboretum.
“I have always loved the arboretum and what the arboretum does, the time and effort that they put in for other people’s pleasure,” she said. “This is a chance to raise awareness and work in partnership.”
Holtzinger said the best part about gardening on Linden Way is that she can grow both plants that require full sun and those that require shade, given the canopy the trees on her property provide.
The sound of running water, cascading down a tiered set of old apple flumes, welcomes her each morning to her backyard garden, filled with Queen Anne’s lace, French lavender, daphnes, delphiniums, butterfly bushes, hydrangeas, rhododendrons and even a vegetable garden.
But her favorite: Roses.
Her backyard garden is filled with them: delicate David Austen roses whose scent Holtzinger describes as “pure,” and disease and drought-resistant peace roses, their heads looking gently lit from within.
“I love the Old English roses,” she said. “They are so intricately made, so beautiful, every one so unique.”
Beyond helping the Arboretum, Holtzinger hopes that sharing the beauty she’s cultivated in her own home will inspire others to cultivate a sense of beauty in their own lives.
“I love nature, being able to get in the dirt of God’s creation and the beauty of it,” she said. “My hope is this tour may inspire people to create a sanctuary for their own homes.”