I've walked in front of the Docking house at 125 S. Crestway for years and never noticed what was behind a hedge of evergreens — and a cute wooden Jayhawk that always draws my eye.
Behind the hedge is a big unfenced yard with giant elm trees, a large screened-in gazebo wired for light to read by, a soothing waterfall and stream, and pale pink roses named for a former first lady of Kansas, the late Meredith Docking.
The garden belonging to Tom and Jill Docking, and five other gardens, will be open for tours June 11 on the College Hill Architectural & Garden Tour. (Rain date June 12.) The fundraiser for the College Hill Neighborhood Association will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
One of the stops is the garden of the Allen-Lambe House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright at 255 N. Roosevelt (the inside will not be open for tours), and the garden of Shawn and Karen Lewis at 3501 E. English. You may recall that I wrote about their curbside vegetable garden earlier this spring.
Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at any of the six locations on the day of the tour or at Watermark Books, 4701 E. Douglas. All ticket holders will receive a program describing the architectural features of each home and garden.
Jill Docking will be serving refreshments at her garden at 125 S. Crestway. She told me that the Docking family had the Meredith rose hybridized for her mother-in-law's 75th birthday — "for someone who has everything and loves flowers," Jill explained.
"It's not so easy to do," she said. She called Botanica, which led to rose breeder Tom Carruth of California, the man who has created more All-America roses than any other living hybridizer.
"You pick out the kind of rose, and he develops a hybrid for you," Jill said, adding that it cost "quite a bit of money."
Carruth hybridized the sweetly scented hybrid tea rose in 2001 by crossing New Zealand with Karen Blixen (named for the author of "Out of Africa").
Meredith roses are planted all over Kansas, including in a Lawrence park and at Botanica. You can grow them yourself; Edmunds' Roses bought the rights to the rose after five years, and when I checked the company's website this week, the rose was on sale for $11 (www.edmundsroses.com).
In doing a little research on it, I discovered that Meredith is now parent to a new rose — Grande Dame — after being crossed with Wild Blue Yonder. Grande Dame is a rose-pink hybrid tea with an intense old-rose fragrance.
"A modern antique for all climates" is how Edmunds describes it.
And, of course, you can see the roses on the garden tour. The Meredith roses are in front of the house, in the Meredith garden.
"There's enough room out there to develop these mini gardens" named for family members, Jill said.
There are gardens named for her parents, and it turns out the Jayhawk-marked garden is named for former Kansas Gov. Robert Docking.