Home & Garden

Time to learn as you grow

Visitors can learn how to cut their water bills and control garden pests without chemicals — as well as gain other common-sense gardening techniques — during the 2009 Garden Rhapsodies Tours next weekend.

“We have the tour trying to get folks to have more environmentally friendly landscapes. We want folks to come out and get some examples of what gardens can look like using these types of practices,” said Ernie Paul, education and outreach program assistant with the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Department.

The July 25 event features a range, from informal gardens to yards that have extensive lawns demonstrating excellent water conservation practices, Paul said.

In addition to the stunning visuals, people will take home practical advice offered during demonstrations on subjects from composting and water conservation to weed control.

For example, the garden created by Chuck and Judy Lundgren features a water-conserving, underground soaker-hose system. Chuck’s metal art work fills his garden with personal touches, while Judy’s love of hydrangeas is evident with more than 40 varieties featured. There are many other types of plants as well as raised vegetable beds.

Judy Lundgren started gardening about 35 years ago, and this is her seventh garden. The couple lived all over the country before coming to the South Sound.

“I relandscaped each one because I enjoy it. I almost see it as an art form,” she said.

Though complete, her garden constantly evolves.

“I still go out shopping,” she said. “If I find something I like, I will rip something out and put it in.”

She hopes people will be inspired by seeing the variety of plants that can be grown locally.

“I think they might enjoy the unusual plants and the variety,” she said of her garden.

People who visit Tali Waterman’s country garden might be inspired to go organic. There’s a demonstration on how to prevent weeds using mulch at this site.

It’s important to Waterman to use organic practices in the 4-year-old garden because she is conscious of the effect chemicals can have on the environment, including the watershed.

She says her garden brings peace to what can sometimes be a hectic schedule. “It’s kind of what I do to collect my wits. If I have lots of work to do and any sort of pressure, it’s a great way to relax and appreciate the variety of colors and new things every day,” she said. “Every day it changes — every single day it changes.”

The garden features about 80 varieties of daylilies — Waterman’s favorite — as well as several varieties of hostas loosely contained within raised-stone planting beds.

Waterman likes the daylilies because they are fleeting.

“Each flower lasts just for one day and then it’s gone,” she said. “You need to appreciate it while it’s there.”

The plants themselves, however, have many buds on each stem and bloom for several weeks. She also enjoys daylilies’ huge range of colors, from almost white to deep burgundy purples.

The garden is tucked into a forested hillside and is surrounded by a hand-made fence with untreated cedar gates that allow pets in but keep deer out.

Compost is made on-site as well as purchased, and is the only fertilizer used in the garden other than worm castings. The family’s 10 pet chickens help with weed control and are happy recipients of garden pests such as slugs and aphids. “They just gobble them up,” she said.

Paul said five other gardens on the tour feature minimal maintenance, solar-powered waterfalls and ponds, and garden designs that range from formal to kid-friendly. The best way to view the gardens on the tour, he added, is to take the shuttles that are available.

“The gardens are in somewhat rural areas with not much parking,” he said. “Also, this is an environmentally friendly tour, so we’re trying to encourage people to get out of their cars and get on the buses.”