Think “garden,” think flowers or vegetables or grasses or trees. Think sweeping landscaped areas or a single pot of flowers. Think acres or a tiny balcony.
Gardens are all that and more. The Homer Garden Club’s seventh annual Gardeners’ Weekend is a good way to see multiple meanings for that single word, “garden.”
“We rack our brains and come up with different gardens we know of or ones that people tell us about,” said club secretary Jessica Ryan of selecting gardens for the annual event. “We try to mix it up. We wouldn’t want to have all flowers or all vegetables. We like to have diversity.”
The weekend events begin Saturday with a presentation by author, speaker, photographer and consultant Rick Darke, who makes his home in Pennsylvania with his wife and co-horticulturist, Melinda Zoehrer.
Among Darke’s books are “The Encyclopedia of Grasses for Livable Landscapes” and “The Color Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses,” favorites of Brenda C. Adams, the Homer Garden Club’s past president and author of “There’s a Moose in My Garden” (See related story). However, it was when she saw the expanded edition of “The Wild Garden” that she recognized the value of having Darke speak during Gardeners’ Weekend.
By William Robinson, “The Wild Garden” was originally published in 1870. The expanded edition includes new chapters and more than 100 color photographs by Darke.
“When I heard about ‘The Wild Garden’ book, I thought that was a perfect concept for Alaskans,” said Adams.
“Our gardens are wild just because they’re cut out of a wild place and so, having a transition from one controlled area to what nature does, makes our gardens, by definition, wilder.”
A self-guided garden tour is 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, with six gardens selected for viewing. Maps to the gardens are included with the purchase of a tour ticket.
“We don’t (identify the gardens) in advance because it’s like advertising a garage sale too soon,” said Ryan of keeping the locations quiet until the day of the event.
This year’s gardens are “a festival of the senses,” said Ryan.
“Visitors will smell the wind ruffling through pine trees, hear the music of water tumbling through stony glens, drink in the colors of a hillside awash in wildflowers, and marvel over the productivity and diversity offered by season-extending high tunnels.”
The gardens include:
• A hillside harmony by a master designer, complete with a pond with water lilies and iris, a weeping hemlock and unusual specimens;
• Bluff gardens spanning generations, reached by a gravel path leading into a walled garden of driftwood beds overflowing with flowers and vegetables;
• A view-directing creation framed by aspen groves and wildflowers, with rock gardens and plants combining color and texture;
• A perennial paradise of fairyland rock terraces, grassy walkways and a mix of vegetables and flowers showcasing artistic accents;
• High tunnels, honey bees and big harvests are featured, with honey bees and gardeners joining forces to produce a year-round garden of herbs, veggies and flowers, while nearby gardens feature cold-weather crops;
• A nature trail winds through woodlands to a waterfall-fed koi pond and fire pit and terraced rocky slopes overflowing with colorful plants in contrast to rhubarb and berries.
The Gardeners’ Weekend concludes with a reception at Bear Creek Winery.
This is the fourth summer that Ryan has enjoyed gardening on the southern Kenai Peninsula.
“Before that I lived in Seward for a few years and then in Fairbanks for a number of years and have attempted to garden in every community I’ve been in,” she said.
“This is my most successful climate. The solar effect we have, the beautiful soils we have are really inspiring. I remember when I turned over my first forkful of Homer soil and did a little happy dance.”
The Homer Garden Club has between 200-300 members.
“Some are folks from Seward, Anchorage and Wasilla who enjoy getting our newsletter and occasionally making it to our events,” said Ryan.
The club meets during the winter on the fourth Sunday of the month.
“There is a lot of gardening interest in this community, for sure,” said Ryan.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at email@example.com.
Homer Garden Club’s 7th annual Gardeners’ Weekend
Aug. 3, 6:30 p.m.
“The layered landscape and the new wild garden” presented by author, speaker, photographer Rick Darke
Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center
Aug. 4, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Self-guided tour of six local gardens
$10 Homer Garden Club members, $15 non-members; free to gardeners 80 and older.
Available now at the Homer Bookstore and Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center; on Aug. 4 at Darke’s presentation; and on Aug. 4 beginning at 10 a.m. at the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center and at the tour gardens, from 10 a.m.-noon at City Hall, and from noon-1 p.m. at the Homer Bookstore.
Aug. 4, 5-6:30 p.m.
Bear Creek Winery reception
Hors d’oeuvres, door prizes, wine-tasting.