Garden tours feature bonsai to lily ponds to fruit orchards

Posted: Friday, July 21, 2000

The second annual Southeast Alaska Master Gardeners Tour offers plant enthusiasts an even dozen gardens to drool over, photograph and take notes about.

The tour is scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with six different gardens each day. Tickets for one day are $10, available at Hearthside Books.

Organizer Sandy Williams sees the tour as ``an exchange of information'' among people who don't mind loam under their nails.

When Williams and his wife, Susanne, moved here in 1959, there was little landscaping, and plants had to be ordered from Outside. Now Cooperative Extension Service classes graduate 20 to 30 master gardeners a year, and there are flowers, blooming shrubs and greenhouses at every turn, he said.

The gardens on the tour include the 20-year West Juneau project of Ella and Jim Bentley. Ella is in charge of the flower bed around the mail box, the hanging baskets and importing the honeysuckle vine on one side of the house from Port Alexander. Jim has contributed fences, a tool shed, bird houses and feeders, and leveled paths.

Near the Juneau Airport, Merridy Davis competes with her husband's commercial fishing gear for space. She has combined children's play spaces with gardens, water lilies in numerous small ponds, berries, bonsai, tile stepping stones and vegetables.

Ed Buyarski has transformed his acreage at Mile 16 of Glacier Highway with greenhouses of tomatoes, a pond and fruit trees.

Money raised from the tours will sponsor scholarships to one or two graduating seniors who are interested in majoring in horticulture, botany or related fields. The gardens of Josh Dupere, last year's scholarship winner, will be featured this year.

To minimize parking congestion, visitors are asked to car pool when possible. Bring purchased tickets to the Bill Ray Center or the Mendenhall Mall from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday or Sunday to pick up a map of the day's tour. Tickets will also be available where maps are distributed. For details, call 364-2243.

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