Did you know there are more than 400 master gardeners in Hennepin County? And, for the last two years, one of the group’s biggest fundraising events—the annual garden tour—has been on hiatus? This year, with COVID-19 still dashing hopes for many in-person events, the group decided to program its garden tour anyway—but put it online.
Already, tickets are on sale for the 2021 Hennepin County Master Gardener Volunteer ‘Virtual’ Learning Garden Tour. Just $12, the tour features four different gardens in Hennepin County. The tour video will be released September 10, and ticket holders will have access to the video for the next year. That last part is important to the volunteer group, says Mary Ellen Becker, a Hennepin County Master Gardener and member of the committee that puts the tour together.
“The tour has two components,” she explains. In addition to featuring professionally produced footage of the four gardens on the tour, “we added an educational component. So, the tour includes pretty gardens, but we also show ticket holders how to do the same thing in their own yards.” The focused educational opportunities will include how-tos on pruning, planting trees, wise watering practices, and when and how to plant spring bulbs.
When choosing the gardens for the tour, Becker adds, “we look for variety and for opportunities for learning.” In addition to a gorgeous, classic cottage garden, the tour includes a shade garden with stone tiers the homeowners built themselves. “She’s also a feng shui expert, so those elements are incorporated into the garden as well,” Becker says.
Another garden “has lots of fun things,” Becker says, including a water feature, live chickens, and hop vines the homeowners harvest for a family that makes beer. The fourth garden features intriguing plant selections along a meandering path in a small yard, with one side tiered with perennials and annuals. “Gardeners will find lots of inspiration from these four gardens,” Becker says, “all while learning how to bring their favorite ideas into their own yards.”