If you go

What: High Desert Garden Tour

When: Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (self-guided)

Where: Tumalo; ticket purchase required for specific addresses

Cost: $10; free ages 16 and younger. Purchase tickets at the following outlets:

• OSU/Deschutes County Extension, on the Deschutes County fairgrounds, Redmond

• Schultz Farm & Garden, 4805 SW Tomahawk Ave., Redmond

• OSU/Crook County Extension Service, 498 SE Lynn Blvd., Prineville

• Strictly Organic Coffee, both locations (Old Mill District and Bond Street, Bend)

• The Shoe inn, Forum Shopping Center, Bend

• Moonfire & Sun Garden Center, 61944 27th St., Bend

• Worthy Brewing Co., 495 Bellevue Drive, Bend

Contact: 541-548-6088

Garden tours are one of my favorite events of the summer. This year, rather than writing about what you missed, I am blowing the horn to make sure you don’t miss the fantastic gardens on the 21st annual High Desert Garden Tour.

The High Desert Garden Tour, presented by the Oregon State University Extension Service and the Central Oregon Chapter of OSU Master Gardeners, features seven gardens in the Tumalo area and is scheduled for Saturday.

In the woods

The Woods’ garden is definitely tucked into the woods on a hillside of juniper and sage with lots of rock. With much research and guidance, the landscape evolved over a four-year period and is now an ode to the joys of gardening in less-than-ideal situations. The owners have made excellent use of the locally written Xeriscape publication available at the OSU Extension office.

Native plants, grasses and easy-care perennials including salvia, catmint, Russian sage, black-eyed susans and easy-care roses provide habitat for pollinators.

The take-your-breath-away attractions are the use of recycled materials, especially recycled doors. If you have a penchant for recycling, the ideas on display will make you wonder why you didn’t think of it. You need to look closely; you don’t know what you might miss.

Unexpected arbor

Another nearby garden from the Becks brings an unexpected arbor crafted from juniper logs and bamboo, plus a Tiki bar complete with sand and seashells collected from all over the world. The acreage was purchased in 1993 and the garden was on the tour in 2008.

The newly constructed arbor is a work of art and a credit to the use and beauty of juniper. It required a great deal of hard work, from logging the trees on the property to the hours of sanding and finishing. Each log represents about 10 hours’ worth of labor. In keeping with the Tiki theme, you will find golden crookstem bamboo in pots on the patio.

Three greenhouses housed more than 90 flats of flowers and vegetables, started indoors in February and then moved into the greenhouses until planting time. Impressive numbers of zonal geraniums were started from seed. The gardeners share the seedlings and eventually the produce from their huge fenced vegetable garden.

Pay special attention to the tree plantings of Canadian hemlock, weeping Alaskan cedar, weeping Norwegian spruce, dogwoods and dwarf hinoki cypress.

A little secret corner is set aside as a plant nursery for propagating perennials to share and to transplant.


The Stout garden features a wrap-around porch that highlights mountain views and massive ornamental and native perennial plantings. Low-growing swaths of color accentuate the contrast of the mountain views, pond and waterfall. Favorite ground covers include Prairie Junegrass, Wood’s strawberry and pussytoes. The challenge now will be keeping the swaths of color in control, according to the gardener.


Visiting the Arnolds’ garden gave me inspiration. Visions of bottle trees and birdhouses incorporated onto tree stumps will help me get over the strong possibility of losing a clump of cottonwood trees at my own garden. A lesson learned in making a cup half full instead of half empty. The gardener says her 39-year-old garden still is a work in progress. Color and texture abound in wide beds surrounding the house. The emphasis is on perennials including clematis, specialty peonies and many columbines. Conifers are used in containers to add structure to the garden.


You may have been drawn to the Tumalo Lavender booth at various Saturday and farmers markets. Now you have the opportunity to view the operation on-site and appreciate the process of bringing lavender to market as a plant and as a product. Owners of Tumalo Lavender have been responsible for helping establish lavender farms throughout the Northwest and as far south as Arizona and most recently in Georgia.


Is beekeeping on your interest list? One garden owner is the keeper of six hives and will be able to explain the care and feeding of bees. The get-away garden shed is complete with a wood stove and the perfect place to start the seedlings for the productive vegetable garden.

Tour etiquette

Between a Tiki bar, a beekeepers garden and an opportunity to view a Japanese garden, I would say the tour covers many diverse interests. Several properties have orchards, and one of the gardens shares an innovative method of growing potatoes.

Gardeners have worked around the clock to whip their gardens into shape despite high winds, visiting critters, a few nippy nights and sudden downpours. Be sure and show your appreciation and thank them.

A little garden tour etiquette — please turn off your cellphone, unless you are expecting a call you can’t miss, and then find a private space for your conversation. Stick to the times listed — no early or late arrivals. Don’t bring your dog, no matter how well-behaved. Guide dogs, of course, are OK.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask permission to take pictures.

Add a stop and rest spot in downtown Tumalo and enjoy how it has expanded.

— Reporter: douville@bendbroadband.com