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Master Gardener 16th Annual Spring Garden Tour

Last week, we offered a peek at two of the gardens on the Master Gardener Annual Spring Garden Tour, being held this Sunday, June 26th from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Here we provide a glimpse of two more gardens available for viewing. In addition to cultivated flowers, most of the gardens include extensive vegetable beds, shrubs, California natives and drought-tolerant plants. The Master Gardener demonstration garden, located at 251 South Barretta Street in Sonora is a model of food production and low water use.

Tickets for the tour are $10.00 each (ages 12 and under are free). You may purchase tickets from any UCCE Tuolumne County Master Gardener and from businesses in various locations: in Columbia at Columbia Nursery and the Farmer’s Friend; in Twain Harte at The Nest; in Standard at The Old Depot Nursery; and in Sonora at J.S. West Nursery and Hardware, Antiques, Etc., and the UCCE office at 52 North Washington Street. Tickets will also be available the day of the tour at the demonstration garden at 251 South Barretta Street, Sonora. If you want to bring an additional friend who does not have a ticket, there may be a few tickets available at each garden. Arrangements can be made at individual gardens to tour only that garden at a discounted price.

Gardens may be toured in the order you choose. Here is a brief preview of what awaits you:

The Strader Garden: Master Gardener Vera Strader and her husband have created a ‘casual country’ garden that is enjoyable not only for them, but for their wildlife friends as well. The Strader garden has been certified as a Wildlife Garden by the National Wildlife Federation. Birdhouses throughout the property are home to bluebirds, tree swallows and house wrens. Plants are used throughout the gardens areas as magnets for pollinators such as hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. Many of the plants are California natives or chosen for their drought tolerant qualities. Salvias (sages) are one of Vera’s favorites; she has planted over twenty-four varieties. The chickens provide manure for the compost pile which is used as mulch and fertilizer for both the flower and vegetable gardens. A front lawn was removed to conserve water. Drip systems are used in many of the garden areas. There is frequent use of recycled materials in this garden, including the broken concrete stepping stones in the front yard, the welded scrap-metal dragon protecting one of the garden beds, and fencing that completely encloses the cherry tree in the orchard.

The Sims Garden: “Fairytoria” is the name of Roger and Penny Sims’ magical garden. Once you set foot in the front garden filled with playful gnomes, frog ponds and mushrooms, you’ll know that you’re in a special place. The back garden is home to more ponds and features two gazebos. The first is a purple and lavender steel gazebo surrounded by an iris garden. The second, at the far corner of the yard, is stone and features a wisteria vine clambering over the top.

It’s hard to believe that this garden is only nine years old-it’s so lush and filled with so many wonderful elements. Roger is a retired Master Gardener from Stanislaus County and also has a background in landscape maintenance. This explains the design and plantings in this garden, but it is his Irish heritage that makes the garden a fairyland. Roger chooses plants that have names of fairies, pixies, elfs, unicorns and other creatures from ancient mythology. Plant names include ‘fairy dust’ lilac, ‘elf power’ daylily, ‘black dragon’ iris, ‘goblin’ gaillardia, ‘red fairy’ rose, and ‘blue fairy’ borage, to name a few. Children of all ages will delight in this garden. (Note: the Sims garden is not wheelchair accessible.)

On garden tour day, water will be available at all the gardens. The Master Gardener book “Sharing the Knowledge,” which contains gardening information specific to the Mother Lode, will be available for purchase at all gardens. The cost is $25 including tax. Checks are payable to University of California. Restrooms are only available at the demonstration garden. Please do not bring pets or strollers. Remember, for an enjoyable garden tour, wear comfortable shoes, bring a hat or sunscreen and don’t forget your camera!