Buncombe Master Gardeners invite public beyond the garden gate

GRAND TOUR: Master gardener Judi Hamrick takes a break from pruning and polishing her Shady Slope garden in South Asheville. Her property will be featured in the Beyond the Garden Gate tour on June 1. Photo by Laura Hackett

There are many breathtaking gardens in Asheville, and most of the time, the secrets of their beauty remain a mystery to admirers. That is, unless a skilled gardener spills the beans. On Saturday, June 1, the Buncombe County Extension Master Gardeners will do just that as members open to the public four of their personal gardens, along with a new learning garden for the annual Beyond the Garden Gate tour and fundraiser.

“What we’re trying to do is show the public that we’re normal people with gardens that aren’t perfect. Maybe we’ve had a problem with pests and trees, and we’ve all overcome certain obstacles to pursue our goal of gardening,” says master gardener and tour co-chair Amy Shumate.

Embarking from the Asheville Visitor Center, the gardens are within 12 minutes of each other. A $20 ticket provides each visitor with a brochure and map for the self-guided tours. At each garden, Shumate estimates there will be seven or eight master gardener docents ready to answer questions and share inspired moments of gardening.

This year, Shumate and co-chair Sandra Layton focused on curating an array of landscapes that are both educational and accessible from the road. Their selections include the Ever Evolving Garden, which celebrates the spirit of adaptation and change, and the Lotus Garden, which belongs to a gardener who tends to purchase her plants impulsively and includes sunny, shady, wet and dry environments. The Sentimental Garden features plants given to its keeper by friends and family, and the Shady Slope Garden has a recirculating waterfall system that illustrates how to cultivate plants in a steep and rainy landscape.

Two of the featured gardens are home to Asheville Treasured Trees recognized by Asheville GreenWorks. Rooted in the Sentimental Garden is a giant Southern magnolia, which dates to at least the 1950s. And within the Ever Evolving Garden sits an elegant sugar maple that is widely admired.

Also special to this year’s tour is the master gardeners’ new learning garden on Mount Carmel Road, which aims to further replicate situations gardeners may face at home. “You can see how to plant, what to plant in different scenarios, what to plant in sun and shade, how to plant on the vertical with a trellis. You can learn how to compost, care for flowers, take care of pests and identify invasive plants,” Shumate says.

Reflecting on the tour experience as a whole, she continues, “We hope our visitors go home inspired by what they have seen, learned and experienced — and that they take that inspiration home and use it in their own gardens.”

WHAT: Beyond the Garden Gate tour
WHERE:  Begins at Asheville Visitor Center, 36 Montford Ave., bucombecountymastergardener.org
WHEN: Saturday, June 1, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., $20

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