Green Thumbs

Of tilling and touring

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

As any avid gardener knows, it takes a metric ton of labor and planning to get a plot of land camera-ready. Occasionally, it’s nice to step away from summer’s endless weeding, watering, pruning, culling and harvesting in order to get a closer look at other people’s gardens. Following are a few suggestions on ways to get the most out of your visits.

At Chuckanut Transition’s seventh annual Sustainable Samish Garden Tour happening from 11am-3pm Sun., July 15, a focus on the growing of food will take precedence. Attendees visiting the four gardens—including Blanchard Mountain Farm, a 1935 farmhouse on the shores of Lake Samish, a “garden to table” restaurant featuring espaliered fruit and herbs, and finally a community labyrinth designed and installed by volunteers—are sure to find out new ways of growing and gleaning.

At the free, self-guided tour, advice will be given about everything from how to grow vegetables, orchards, fruits and herbs, to taking your harvest to market, water conservation and harvesting, designing a hedgerow, creating a backyard wildlife sanctuary, lakeside living, and finding how labyrinths can not only renew and connect a community, but can also enhance any backyard garden. Pick up a map between 10:30am-2pm at the Alger Community Hall, and get going. More info: http://www.chuckanutransition.com

It may not be possible to attend both, but if you manage your time well, you should also be able to make it to the Point Roberts Garden Tour XV happening from 10am-4pm Sunday in the tiny town that is technically located in Whatcom County, but requires entry to Canada to get to (in other words, bring your passport or enhanced license).

It’ll be worth it to temporarily leave the country for the every-other-year tour, which this go-round will feature eight unique gardens. Tickets are $15-$20, and can be purchased the day of the event at Tyee Drive and McKenzie Way, shortly after crossing through the border. The price to the self-guided tour includes a map, entry to the gardens and a stop for afternoon tea and live music. More info: http://www.pointrobertsgardenclub.org

At the WSU Discovery Garden located at the Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center off State Route 536 in Mount Vernon, every day is tour day. The garden has been educating and inspiring the public since the first structure trees and fences were established in 1996, and has long been meeting its goal of enhancing the quality of the environment of Skagit County.

The acreage has it all—from entrance gardens to borders, Japanese gardens, grass plots, fruit trees, ground covers, verdant vegetables, herb gardens, composting structures, nature-scaping, a children’s garden, a collection of plants that thrive in low light, a rose garden, a space for succulents, a water-wise space and beyond. The garden is open from dawn to dusk throughout the year, so a visit in the summer will be far different from one in the fall or winter—even if you’re exploring the four-season garden. More info: http://www.extension.wsu.edu

Alan Doyle
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