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Garden Tour: Demonstration Garden Features Plant Sale

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Today the University of California Cooperative Extension Central Sierra Master Gardeners of Tuolumne County are hosting their 23rd annual garden tour, “Gardening with Purpose.” Tickets are still available for purchase at the Master Gardener demonstration garden at 251 S. Barretta Street in Sonora.

In addition to three private gardens on this year’s tour, the master gardener Demonstration Garden will offer a cool and shady respite from a busy day of garden touring. Lemonade, iced tea and water will be served along with home-made cookies to boost your energy. Restrooms are available.

The Master Gardener Demonstration Garden was first established by a Memorandum of Understanding in 2004. Fourteen years later, it contains multiple examples of garden themes and techniques. The food production area includes vegetable raised beds, herbs, container plantings, berries (blackberries, raspberries, olallieberries, and blueberries), fruit trees, grapes and even a native walnut tree or two.

There are several native plant areas—a grassy meadow, a sun garden, native shade garden, and examples of large native shrubs. A lawn alternative area showcases two different varieties of buffalo grass. Ornamental landscaping is found in the rose garden—with its showy clematis climbing on an arbor, the cut-flower bed, and the rock garden, which is lush in the spring with California poppies and varieties of thyme.

On garden tour day, water will be available at all gardens. Restrooms are ONLY available at the master gardener demonstration garden on Barretta Street. If you ordered your tickets on-line at , the demonstration garden will also function as the will-call ticket site on the day of the tour.

In conjunction with the garden tour, the Master Gardener Plant Sale will be held at the demonstration garden from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. The sale will include selected plants from gardens featured on the garden tour. These plants are grown by our own master gardeners to suit our local growing conditions.

The plant sale will also feature additional garden-related items such as ceramic and terra cotta pots, and wire planters. Gardening books will be available for purchase. The second book written by local master gardeners, “Sharing the Knowledge: Gardening in the Mother Lode,” will also be available. A must-have book for gardening in the Sierra foothills, this compilation of garden articles written by master gardeners from 2006 to 2010 is priced at $15, including sales tax.

As an additional bonus, if you only wish to visit the plant sale and demonstration garden on October 14, there is no admission fee. There will be a holding area for purchased plants for those who would like to visit the demonstration garden after purchasing their plants. The demonstration garden will also serve as will call for tour tickets purchased on-line.

Self-guiding tickets to the three beautiful private gardens, as well as the demonstration garden in downtown Sonora, are $12 per person; children 12 and under are free. Tickets are available in the Columbia area at Columbia Mercantile in Columbia State Historic Park. In Sonora, tickets can be purchased at Sonora Lumber on South Washington Street, Antiques, Etc. on North Washington Street and from the UCCE Office, 52 North Washington Street. Farther up Highway 108, tickets can be found at Nature’s Whole Food Depot on Standard Road, and The Nest in Twain Harte. Tickets are also available from your favorite Master Gardener and will be available on the day of the tour at the Master Gardener demonstration garden at 251 S. Barretta Street in Sonora, CA. Tickets can be purchased on-line at .

As you tour this year’s varied sites, be mindful of a few tips for additional comfort and ease: wear comfortable shoes and bring a hat or sunscreen and water (the current forecast for that weekend is sunny with temperatures around 70 degrees). Take your time, stop for lunch and don’t forget your camera! Please don’t bring strollers or pets. Thank the home owners for allowing us to view their gardens; be generous with your praise and gentle in your criticism.

Rebecca Miller-Cripps is a University California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener of Tuolumne County who wishes her garden looked like the ones on the garden tour.

UCCE Master Gardeners of Tuolumne County can answer home gardening questions. Call 209-533-5912 or go to: to fill out our easy-to-use problem questionnaire. Check out our website at: You can also find us on Facebook.

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