A daylong celebration of gardening

By Paul Viau | Jun 11, 2014
Photo by: Paul Viau A DAY TO REMEMBER — Participants in the June 21 Haywood County Garden Tour will see gardens that please the Earth and delight the senses. Pictured is Jane Alexander’s garden, featured in the 2012 tour.

When it comes to gardening, most of us never really “master” our own domain.

Mother Nature has a way of throwing a monkey wrench at all of our “toil in the soil” Last year Haywood County had it all — torrential downpours, baking-hot summer days, and wave upon wave of hungry pests and critters.

Seeing Mother Nature come alive in our backyards is very satisfying, to say the least. But having blight claim all but one or two of your ‘mater crop — now that’s another story.

Fortunately, my wife and I have two Master Gardeners in our neighborhood. They are tremendous resource, are always very helpful — and what they accomplish putting their master gardening skills to work in their own home and gardens is inspiring.

Haywood County’s Master Gardener Program is part of a national program, where trained volunteers work in partnership with the county Cooperative Extension office. The Master Gardener Program provides gardeners with education in a wide range of horticultural topics. After successfully completing the training, participants become certified Master Gardener Volunteers.

Master Gardeners provide volunteer leadership and service to their community in a variety of gardening activities. The volunteer activities can include answering gardening questions, conducting plant clinics, planting demonstration gardens, talking to community groups and more.

Believe me, the Master Gardener volunteers are a busy group, but every two years — (Is that biennially or bi-annually? — Only Google knows.) — Haywood’s Master Gardeners take time to show off a little, and showcase some of the amazing gardens tucked away throughout the area.

This daylong celebration of gardening is called the Haywood County Garden Tour, and it is the Master Gardeners’ primary fundraising event to support education-related horticultural projects in Haywood County.

My wife and I have participated in this tour every other year that we have lived in Haywood County. This will be our fourth. We have talked about doing the Buncombe County tour (which alternates years with Haywood County) but we are keeping our focus — local.

This year’s Haywood County Garden Tour is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, June 21, and is themed, “Forest, Flowers and Food.”

As in years past, the tour will start at the main barn at the Mountain Research Station, off Raccoon Road in Waynesville. There you can purchase tickets, view vendor presentations and pick up tour directions — Then away you will go on a “Magical Mystery Tour” of beautiful Haywood County gardens.

This year, the notable gardens include:

(1) Grace Episcopal Church Gardens — Beauty, Peace and Service. Here you’ll see gardens that have been lovingly tended by church members for more than 160 years. Among the notable areas are the beautifully landscaped circular drive, the tranquil memorial garden and the Food Pantry Garden, where all ages share in feeding needy families in the community.

(2) The Christopher and Marjorie Carrie Garden — The Wild Cultivated Garden. Enjoy a shaded walk in a high woods garden at the edge of Haywood County; wander cleverly carved paths, past an artful metal bird scarecrow; finally crossing a small creek to “mother’s woodland gardens.”

(3) Fitts Garden — Well-Mannered Town Garden. This elegant Waynesville home boasts a shade bed, fascinating lichen specimens, bat houses, a garden shed, garden art and much more.

(4) The Fangmeyer Garden — An Abundant Mountain Manor. A shuttle drops you off at the top of the garden, where you’ll follow stone pathways to raised-bed garden, a grape arbor and variety of pergolas. Continue past the natural creek and pond, visit a family of koi swimming near the waterfall, enjoy a cool moment in the shade garden and wave to my friends, the goats, grazing on the hillside.

(5) Hazelwood Elementary School Garden — Young Gardeners Dig It! See the educational programs of Haywood County Master Gardeners in action, and visit with first- and second-graders, who are learning that gardening is deliciously fun.

There you have it — A day of exploring five beautiful gardens filled with “forest, flowers and food” and a few pixies. Be sure to bring your cameras and notebooks to jot down a wealth of new garden ideas.

Tickets for the Haywood County Garden Tour are available in advance at the Haywood County Extension Center, 589 Raccoon Road, Mountain View Nursery, Rux Gardens, Gallery 86 and BB Barns in Asheville. Tickets the day of the tour will be available at the barn at the NC Research Station. For information, call 456-3575.

Did you know? — You can tell the Master Gardeners that Paul Viau sent you.