The mere mention of Impressionist painter Claude Monet brings forth, in many minds, stunningly beautiful pieces of art that capture the colors, textures, emotions, even the fragrances, which emanated from his exquisite gardens.
“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece,” he said.
With those words he captured a feeling all gardeners have about the fruits of their gardening labors. Whether they’ve concentrated their attention on the production of edibles or flowers, all seek to produce “masterpieces” on their own plots of ground.
Homer has a plethora of beautiful gardening masterpieces, five of which will be on display during the Homer Garden Club’s 9th Annual Gardeners’ Weekend. An event that began years ago as visits made by garden club members to other members’ gardens has grown, over time, to what this year is a three-day event, beginning Friday, July 31 and culminating Sunday, Aug. 2, with self-guided tours of five gardens and a reception at Bear Creek Winery from 5-6:30 p.m.
On July 31 and Aug. 1, gardeners, wannabe gardeners and everyone else are invited to hear garden-related talks by keynote speaker Bill Cullina, executive director of the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.
The talks are free and begin at 6:30 p.m. both days at the Kachemak Bay Campus.
Cullina’s July 31 talk is titled “Beyond the Surface: Soil Physics, Biology and Chemistry Demystified.” His Aug. 1 talk is “Sugar, Sex and Poison: Shocking Plant Secrets Caught on Camera.”
In addition, Cullina will conduct a five-hour macro-photography course from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 1 at KBC. Participation is limited to 20 people. Cost is $30.
The garden tours will be from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 2 and Bear Creek Winery reception will be from 5-6:30 p.m. The price for the tours and reception is $15 per person; those over 80 are admitted free.
This year’s keynote speaker has a wealth of experience that area gardeners are likely to find valuable. Before assuming the executive director position at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Cullina was the director of horticulture and plant curator there.
“Gardening in the lower 48 can’t come much closer to the coastal Alaska growing conditions than can be experienced in northern, coastal Maine,” write organizers for the annual gardening event.
The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens at 43.86 degrees north latitude are just a bit further south than Homer. The gardens’ coastal environment, the dates of their first and last frosts and their daylight hours — three hours shy of Homer’s — bring them closer than most gardens in the lower 48 to the conditions Homer residents enjoy.
Cullina’s talks are an opportunity for the Homer gardeners, as well as those who haven’t begun to garden but might be contemplating it, to spend a couple of entertaining and educational evening hours learning from a master, say garden weekend organizers.
Following are brief descriptions of the five gardens featured during this year’s tour:
FOCUS ON FANTASTIC FOLIAGE
Groves of sun-dappled birch trees frame spectacular views of Kachemak Bay and link lush lawns to a striking perennial border garden. Texture and color created by masterful use of foliage enhances this elegant home and delights the eye. Local stones and sculptural art pieces accent shrubs and herbaceous perennial varieties. Burgundy and purple foliage flaunt rich hues near frilly yellows, scalloped reds and vibrant spiky green leaves in a visual party. Unusual plants like Swedish Aspen combined in innovative designs may inspire the visitor to go home and plant beyond typical and tame. Birds flock to this peaceful setting and its unique feeders and baths. Enjoy the experience.
Owners: Sam & Marilyn Beachy
40755 Morningstar Road
Designer/Gardener: Gee Denton
A truly extraordinary botanical collection of Alaskan native plants is growing on the steep slopes near Fritz Creek. Exquisite mini gardens surrounded by a well-managed forest reflect the botanist owner’s philosophy of protecting or planting ten trees per year, plus establishing at least one perennial bed. Countless small, rock- bordered microclimates were created from organic soils to shelter and showcase specimens from all over Alaska. Enjoy viewing a producing orchard, fruitful slopes of strawberries and raspberries and a greenhouse. Tall fern borders define paths while baneberry hedges protect the flourishing and diverse collection. This is a large garden. Pause and appreciate the excellent slope development, beach rock terraces, and local perennials beautifully maintained and displayed. Paths on steep slopes are best suited to sturdy footgear.
Owners: Conrad & Carmen Field (and Eryn)
38892 Fritz Creek Valley Drive
PERENNIAL FOUR SEASON APPEAL
Designed to make the most of a sloping transition from deck to yard, this planting scheme has turned a difficult area into a true delight. Perennial shrubs and flowers mingle to minimize erosion and make the most of color, texture, form and fragrance. We are talking eye candy! An island of mature birch anchors the landscaping by providing summer shade, autumn glory and attractive winter interest. Custom garden gates and a privacy fence are practical and pretty accents. Gravel and flagstone paths provide drainage and elegant walkways. The strolling garden borders a lush green lawn which flows into the comfort of a beautiful outdoor sitting room. The harmony and hospitality of this lovely garden will encourage you to relax and take in the atmosphere and spectacular view of Kachemak Bay.
Owners: Jay & Elise Boyer
935 South Larkspur
Designed by Brenda Adams
ARBORS & ART IN
These established gardens include a variety of beautiful perennial beds and islands. A walled orchard and raised bed garden complement the newly planted high tunnel. Exuberant freeform beds overflow with wildflowers embracing a curving board walk among specimen trees. Statuary and owner created metal sculptures grace the gardens and provide support for kiwi vines in a very inviting arbor. Imaginative combinations of shrubs, perennials and local Devils Club lead the way to a lovely rocked pond. The large walled garden shelters tender fruit trees and unique plant specimens from bitter winds and moose. Raised garden beds host healthy vegetable varieties. Herbs, beans and warm weather crops flourish in the high tunnel. Trek through the tunnel and rose arbor into the natural areas of the property accessed by mown paths. These extraordinary gardens have it all.
Owners: Sunrise Sjoberg & Tim Quinn
4670 Tamara Street
Metal Art by Tim Quinn
WATERFALL & PEACEFUL POND
Whimsical metal bird sculptures are tucked into the trees. Look for them as you stroll the forest path. Impressive large beach stones in the border gardens and steps echo the rock solid theme in house siding and entry pillars. Truly trophy hosta flex their mighty leaves under the decks. These gardens are lovely but water steals the show at this tour stop. Natural water burbles, sings and laughs its way from the top of the property to a very large pond below. A wide rocked channel guides the sparkling streamlet under an arched bridge on its way through a peaceful forest of birch, alder, wild rose and fern. The easy winding path leads to a wide curving man-made reflecting pond. This pleasant water feature hosts fish, birds and at least one moose family and adds an eye-catching focal point to the home landscape from many viewing places. Sit on the bench and enjoy the wildlife and wild scape in the ambience of this out-of-the-ordinary retreat.
Owners: Mike & Susie Quinn
5165 Hopkins Street
Owners: Mike & Susie Quinn
5165 Hopkins Street