Valley Voice

Publication Article

“Tulare Garden Wins Statewide Award” – The Valley Voice

A friend visiting from Oregon suggested Bob and Francene Hill move the rear fence of their corner lot on North Manor Drive out eight feet, an idea that marked the beginning of an award-winning landscaping project.


The California Landscape Contractors Association presented Plant Systems by Cox
with a first palace award last November in the large residential landscape renovation category. The Visalia firm worked with the Hills in redoing their front and back yards.

Area residents who buy tickets for the Valley Oak Garden Club’s annual home tour will be able to visit the garden from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 28. Tickets for the tour, which also features five homes and one other garden, are $15. Information: 686-4681.

Even more important than award their yards received, the Hills ended up with garden areas-especially in the backyard-that they enjoy immensely.

“This is the center of all our family entertainment,” Francene Hill said. It is also a place of serenity. “It’s so great to sit out in the evening and thank the Lord for his blessings,” Bob Hill said.
The renovation was no small task, but Francene Hill-who is an avid gardener and past president of the Garden Club– said working with Steve Cox and Susan Garvin was a pleasure.
“She knows and understands flowers like no one else I’ve worked with before,” she said. “She does the shopping for flowers and then oversees and works with the crews to replant for every season.”
As for Cox, he brought in 27 tons of rock for the foundation of the front garden to get the natural look they wanted, she said.

The front entry features a newly designed walk, seat wall and fountain that reflect the simplicity of Asian design that is a signature of the home.

In the backyard, a rose garden that was part of the landscaping when the Hills purchased their house 33 years ago was moved to the northwest portion of the yard. The roses are framed with a boxwood hedge and a custom-designed wrought iron trellis with espaliered citrus trees. A garden swing in front of the persimmon tree is a favorite spot for relaxing and enjoying the blooms.

Other features of the yard include:

A fence designed and built by the Hills that incorporates the grape stakes of their old fence between new slump stone pillars.

Garden gates of steel and copper that Francene Hill designed to reflect the slump stone pillars.

An aviary that includes Bob Hill’s favorite tropic bird Chloe, a rose breasted cockatoo, and Regis, a regent parrot who greeted judges from the California Landscape Contractors Association with “What’s you doing?” when they walked into the backyard.

A flagstone walkway that includes a grouping of Japanese maples and features dwarf coral bells, Irish moss, elfin thyme and armeria.

A variety of flowers, fruit trees, coastal redwoods and dawn redwoods are among the many other backyard treasures.

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