Farm & Garden: Garden tours and contests for kids

Open the gates: The Asheville-Buncombe County Master Gardeners will host its biannual tour, featuring six gardens — including the Beaufort House's wisteria arbor — on Saturday, June 22.
Open the gates: The Asheville-Buncombe County Master Gardeners will host its biannual tour, featuring six gardens — including the Beaufort House's wisteria arbor — on Saturday, June 22.


A garden-lover's paradise

Lush, private gardens will open their arbors to the public for the Asheville-Buncombe County Master Gardeners Tour on Saturday, June 22. The "Follow Your Passion" tour will feature six Asheville gardens, including one school, two Bed and Breakfasts and three private homes.

The afternoon is more than an array of ferns and flowers. It's a teaching tour, complete with docents at each location to answer questions and point out the unique features of the gardens. Everything from beekeeping to managing slopes will be explained.

Tim and Mary Fierle will present their "pass along" garden which highlights the greenery that friends and family have shared over the years. The Beaufort House (pictured), which was once the summer home of Charlton Heston, will celebrate the actor's legacy with gardens that are rich with history. A 250-year-old white oak tree will greet visitors, along with a wisteria pergola and and an herb garden that feeds the inn's visitors.

Former Asheville City Council member Gene Rainey's garden, which features 60 raised beds, has experienced some challenges due to heavy rains and active critters this year. However, Gene's wife Dorma reports that vegetables from their garden have already been donated to MANNA FoodBank this season. They hope to donate 100 pounds of produce each week.

The tour starts at Isaac Dickson Elementary School, where maps and directions will be provided. The school is the perfect place to kick off the tour, as the proceeds benefit the Master Gardeners' school garden grants. A tree pruning presentation will be offered as well as tours of the school's outdoor pizza oven and chicken coop.

The garden tour will be held on Saturday, June 22 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Shuttles will run from the University of North Carolina Asheville to the various gardens and details are provided at check-in. Tickets are $20; $15 in advance. Info: http://www.buncombemastergardener.org

Uncontainable excitement

Kids and container gardens go hand-in-hand. This low-maintenance approach to growing gives children a chance to see results quickly and complete a full garden project before the school year ends.

The Men's Garden Club of Asheville hosted a container garden contest for children earlier this spring. More than 50 elementary school classes from 20 Buncombe County schools participated. Creativity, originality and hands-on input from the children were just a few of the qualities that were considered.

Isaac Dickson Elementary's fourth-grade class (pictured, opposite) was one of three first-place winners in this year's contest. The students used container gardens to explore connections between math and nature. Other winners include Claxton Elementary, Hominy Valley Elementary and Ira B. Jones Elementary.

"It gives the boys and girls a chance to be creative," says Men's Garden Club's special projects director Alan Williams. "It makes you smile when you see the kids sitting on the edge of their seats waiting to be heard."

To learn more about the Men's Garden Club of Asheville and its nearly 75 years of serving the local garden community, go to http://mensgardenclubasheville.org.

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