Even master gardeners have to cram before inviting a bunch of strangers to gawk at their gardens.
“I started right after the snow melted — weeding and cutting things down,” said Deb Revier, a Hennepin County master gardener whose lakeshore garden in Minnetonka is featured on this year’s Extension Learning Garden Tour on July 11.
Gary DeGrande is even more ambitious — he plans to install another pond in the days before his White Bear Township garden is featured on the Minnesota Water Garden Society’s annual tour July 25-26.
He already has two ponds with waterfalls in the backyard, but he’s adding one in front “so I can take advantage of the sun,” he said. After removing a bush, he found himself with a 2-foot hole. “The more I dug, the more I thought, ‘Why not a pond?’ ” he said. “I figured I’d build a small one, so I can display tropical water lilies.”
July is peak garden tour season in the Twin Cities, with many to choose from. If you’re looking for inspiration, expert advice or just a pleasant stroll through pretty surroundings, there’s a tour for you.
The tour on which Revier’s garden will be featured focuses on education. All the gardens are tended by master gardeners, all of whom will be on hand to answer questions.
“It’s a chance to talk to master gardeners — like a full-day core course in horticulture,” she said. And each garden will be set up with “education stations” where visitors can learn about topics from square-foot gardening, to fruit trees, to topiaries. (At Revier’s garden, the education stations will focus on shoreline restoration, native plants and proper planting of trees and shrubs.)
The Water Garden Society’s tour is focused on water, of course, but also how water features are integrated into the landscape. “Our tour is not just ponds, but beautiful gardens, too,” said DeGrande.
“Nothing is more personal than sharing your pond and garden,” DeGrande said. “I love it! Gardeners are a special lot. They like to share information, learn from each other and trade plants.”
Revier often goes on garden tours to get ideas and inspiration. It was on a tour that she spotted the “holey boulders” she now has in her rock garden. “It’s an interesting type of rock — kind of Swiss cheese-ish. I thought they looked really cool.”
But DeGrande doesn’t make it to many other tours, he admitted. “My own pond and garden are such a magnet. I spend most of my time here.”
Here’s a roundup of Twin Cities-area garden tours coming up in July:
WEEKEND OF JULY 11-12
St. Anthony Park Garden Tour
What: Tour of 10 gardens in St. Paul’s St. Anthony Park neighborhood, including gardens that tackle site challenges, from steep hillsides to shady ravines. Features include native plants, rain gardens, bee- and pollinator-friendly gardens, a fairy garden and edible landscaping.
When: July 11, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: $12 in advance at www.stanthonyparkgardenclub.com or at Bibelot, Micawber’s or Speedy Market; $15 the day of the tour, at St. Anthony Park Library, Como and Carter avenues.
Sanctuaries: Homes, Churches and Gardens Tour
What: Self-guided tour of seven gardens, plus three homes and three churches, in the Hastings/Prescott area, sponsored by the Hastings Prescott Area Arts Council and Friends of the LeDuc.
When: July 11, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $25 at www.hpaac.org. Includes beverages and treats.
Learning Garden Tour, Extension master gardeners — Hennepin
What: Tour the home gardens of nine University of Minnesota Extension master gardeners in the west and southwest metro area, including a miniature railroad garden. Features hands-on “education stations” at each garden.
When: July 11, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: $15 in advance at www.hennepinmastergardeners.org/events/hcmg-learning-garden-tour, 612-596-2130, or at the Extension Master Gardener office, 479 Prairie Center Dr., Suite 2, Eden Prairie. $20 the day of the tour. Free for children under 12.
Arboretum Auxiliary Private Garden Tours
What: Bus tour of four west metro gardens. Each garden will have representatives from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Auxiliary and homeowners on hand to answer questions. Tour includes lunch, accompanied by harp music, on the arboretum’s Morgan Terrace.
When: July 12, 14, 15 (several morning departures, between 8:45 and 10:30 a.m.)
Cost: $55 for July 12, $50 for July 14 and 15. Register at www.arboretum.umn.edu/auxgardentours.aspx or call 612-625-9865.
Red Wing Arts Association Garden Tour
What: Self-guided tour of six gardens in the Red Wing area, including some that attract butterflies and birds, large woodland gardens shared by next-door neighbors and water gardens filled with plants, koi and goldfish. Includes live music and master gardeners to answer questions.
When: July 12, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: $15. Passports can be purchased at the Red Wing Arts Association Depot Gallery, 418 Levee St., Sargent’s Nursery or Hallstrom’s Florist and Greenhouse, or at gardens the day of the tour. www.redwingarts association.org/garden-tour.
WEEKEND OF JULY 19-20
Gorgeous Gardens of Plymouth
What: Tour of seven gardens, including the residential garden of Heidi Heiland, owner of Heidi’s Lifestyle Gardens. Opportunity to talk with the homeowners and ask questions.
When: July 19, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Heiland will provide guided tours of her gardens between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.)
Cost: $10 in advance or $15 on the day of the tour. Free for ages 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased at Bachman’s in Plymouth.
Eden Prairie Lioness Garden Tour
What: Self-guided tour of six private gardens in Eden Prairie, including a wildlife garden, rain gardens, a fairy garden and a hosta collector’s garden.
When: July 19, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: $12, available at Kowalski’s Market (Hwy. 5 and County Road 4) or from any Eden Prairie Lioness. Call Jean, 952-937-2865.
WEEKEND OF JULY 25-26
Tangletown Garden Tour
What: Tour of private gardens in Minneapolis and St. Paul, with a stop at Longfellow Gardens, a historic public garden. Tangletown Gardens staff will be available at all sites to answer questions. Demonstrations on container design, pruning, growing vegetables and planting for pollinators will be featured in selected gardens. Art by local artists will be on display in each garden.
When: July 25, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: $25 in advance, 612-822-4769, or at Tangletown Gardens, 5353 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls.; $30 the day of the tour; maps available at Tangletown Gardens. Ticket includes beverages and live music, 3 to 6 p.m., at Wise Acre Eatery, 5401 Nicollet Av. S.
Minnesota Water Garden Society Tour
What: Self-guided tour of 12 gardens that include ponds, waterfalls or other water features in the Twin Cities metro area. Homeowners will be on hand to answer questions.
When: July 25 and 26, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $10 in advance at www.mwgs.org or $15 the day of the tour at any site. For more information, call 612-803-7663.