Gardeners Weekend explores challenging local climate

Homer gardens can be festive, or restive, refined, or wildly imaginative. Come July 29 and 30: Gardeners’ Weekend, sponsored by the Homer Garden Club, will celebrate the art of gardening in our sometimes challenging climate. The event will kick off with a keynote talk on Saturday followed on Sunday by open-gate tours of five uniquely charming gardens for your viewing pleasure. The tour will culminate in a reception on the lovely grounds of the Bear Creek Winery.

This year’s keynote features radio talk-show host Ciscoe Morris, author of “Ask Ciscoe: Oh La La! Your Gardening Questions Answered!” With a degree in horticulture from South Seattle Community College, Ciscoe plied his skills as an arborist and master gardener at Seattle University for 24 years, transforming the extensive woodlands on campus into a designated wildlife sanctuary.

Ciscoe will be speaking at 6 p.m. Saturday evening in the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center at 95 Sterling Highway. His talk is entitled “Everything is going to pot: Designing long lasting, beautiful container gardens.”

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 30, five of Homer’s exceptional gardens will be open to the public. These gardens have been carefully selected to offer the full breadth of gardening possibilities found in and around Homer. They include:

• A small well-tended perennial garden on a terraced slope with a pocket garden of primulas and sedums, and artful containers and window boxes full of vibrant annuals;

• A forested wonderland with island gardens of sun-loving perennials and grasses set amid slabs of local green granite and a slate water feature, a kitchen garden, and outdoor living amenities like fire pits and a child’s playhouse;

• A large working farm complete with highly productive organic vegetable gardens, high tunnels, and farm animals; a newer garden, now in its fifth summer, that shows how careful planning and true artistry can come together to transform the landscape;

• And a restive garden with well-established perennial beds, a large lake that provides habitat for nesting cranes, mallards and golden eyes, and an organic vegetable garden enclosed in a wooden fence that allows for fruit trees at 1,200 feet.

After the garden tour, a closing reception will be held at Bear Creek Winery, with wine tasting, savory hors d’oeuvres and music by Windsong, a trio composed of members of the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra.

Tickets for Ciscoe’s talks, as well as the Garden Tours and Bear Creek Winery Reception, are on sale at The Homer Bookstore on Pioneer Avenue. Tickets for the Garden Tours and Bear Creek Winery Reception will also be sold from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday, July 30, at Homer’s City Hall on Pioneer Avenue and at the Tour Gardens.

Tickets for Ciscoe’s talk are $10. Tickets for the garden tour only are $15. Tickets for the tour and reception are $25. Gardeners who are over 80 get in free.

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