If you go

What: The 25th Annual High Desert Garden Tour presented by Oregon State University Extension Service and the Central Oregon OSU Master Gardeners. The event is a self-guided tour of six gardens in the Bend area.

When: Saturday July 21; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Price: Tickets are $10.

Find more information and ticket outlets at https://extension.oregonstate.edu/deschutes/announcements/2018-high-desert-garden-tour.

For me, the annual High Desert Garden Tour means mentally redesigning my landscape — again.

At the end of the day, my tour guide book is filled with underlined ideas and notes on plant varieties I want to investigate. My accordion file folder marked “Garden Tour” is filled with 24 garden tour guide books (this is the 25th annual) — a real treasure trove of information for successful gardening in Central Oregon.

A common goal this year is the effort to reduce turf to a manageable and more energy-­efficient size. One homeowner reduced an original 15,000 square feet of turf to 5,000 square feet. The remaining area was redesigned and utilized as a bonsai garden, a greenhouse/studio and an additional paver deck. Another homeowner reduced the turf by 225 feet, replacing it with flagstones and wooly thyme. Additional sod was removed to allow for a rock-edged perennial bed along a sloping, sunny front yard that tended to be prone to run-off.

Privacy and creating a relaxing retreat to enjoy at the end of the day was also a landscaping goal for several of the homeowners. Privacy comes in many forms other than fencing, as you will note on the tour: from establishing berms of interesting conifers to creating a privacy fence with trellised silver lace vine and vine maples.

My husband’s favorite reply to being asked when he was going on vacation: “I’m on vacation every night when I come home from work.” His vacation spot was an enclosed patio overlooking a natural lava flow that former owners had sculptured into a rockery. It is a great station to watch birds, bees and butterflies go about their end-of-the-day routine and, yes, watching the four-legged critters munch down the hostas.

I’m anxious to visit the garden one homeowner calls the “midnight garden.” It sounds very Oregon Public Broadcasting Masterpiece Theater-­like. The garden located on the west side of the house features a majority of white plants to entice the night pollinators. It also illustrates the variety of shades of white.

Irrigation is a constant subject of concern each year, and there is no perfect, one-method-fits-all solution. This is one good reason that garden tours are so much fun and so helpful. Conversations and ideas flow freely with no one hesitating to enter a conversation if it might give you some ideas to solve your problem.

With irrigation in mind, the perfect stop on the tour will be the Water-Wise Garden, which began in 2016 as a joint collaboration between OSU Extension, Central Oregon Master Gardener Association, Bend Park & Recreation District and the city of Bend. Many months of planning were involved in developing this demonstration garden at Hollinshead Park that was completed in the summer of 2017. The garden is unique in that it features several types of irrigation systems. There is drip irrigation with in-line emitters, point of delivery irrigation, pop-up rotary head irrigation and tree bubblers in different parts of the garden. Be sure and note the pathway material through the garden made of permeable aggregate. All plants are labeled.

Winter Creek Nursery is familiar to many as one of the go-to stops for native plants. This year the native plant gardens of the owner’s home are included in the tour. Often we look at the native plants and don’t understand how to put them together to reflect the natural ecological communities found around the inland west. The gardens display native plants of Central and Eastern Oregon. Most of the gardens are free-form and eclectic.

The main objective of each of the gardens is to provide wildlife habitat, mainly for birds and pollinators.

Mark your calendar, call a friend and make it a day of garden touring.

— Reporter: douville@bendbroadband.com

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