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Master garden tour set for June 2

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By Tris DeRoma

Those looking to start a garden, or perhaps improve what they already have, should mark June 2 on the calendar. That’s the date the Los Alamos Master Gardeners Association is opening up six member gardens to the public.

Called the Master Gardeners Garden Tour, the free event is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and will feature six gardens, five maintained by residents, and one by the Pajarito Environmental Education Center. Residents are welcome to stop by each of the gardens between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., where the garden’s owners will give a tour and offer tips.

“There will be people stationed at various places who will be able to answer questions,” former Los Alamos Master Gardener’s Association President Denise George said.

Some of the gardens will have lists of plants that have been successful growing in Los Alamos County.

The event is to show what’s possible in a mountain desert climate, for beginner gardeners and the advanced alike.

“The thought was to give people who are just starting an example of what they might want to begin with. Then, you can contrast that with people who have been gardening for 20 years, George said. “The tour gives you a contrast, it also shows you it’s possible to have a beautiful garden in Los Alamos without necessarily breaking the bank with your water.”

George said residents who really want to take things to the next level with their gardening could take the master gardening course through the New Mexico State University’s Los Alamos County Extension Office.

“Most of the people that live in Los Alamos come from somewhere else,” George said. “So, whatever gardening skills we came with are not appropriate. It’s best way to learn how to garden in Los Alamos, if that’s a passion for you. It’s not easy here.”

George said her the skills she learned taking the master gardener course through the extension office has helped preserve her garden, even in the drought Los Alamos County is currently experiencing.

“The first year, you have to water everything like crazy because the plants haven’t established roots, but once the roots get in, I have a zeroscape front yard, all planted, no rocks, it gets water once a week and it’s perfectly happy, even in this horrible weather,” George said.

Cas Mason, one of the master gardeners on the tour, also said it’s possible to have a thriving, lush garden of native and non-native plants in Los Alamos County.

“The garden was not a priority until I retired in 2004. With the children grown, I went on lectures on grasses in Santa Fe, returned with visions of grasses moving in the wind. I now have perennials including some grasses, blue avena and sand love grass are among my favorites, and native plants, such as salvia sclarea, penstemons and pasque flowers,” Mason said in a write up of her garden. 

Gardens on the tours include Cas and Rod Mason’s garden at 148 Piedra Loop, Cathy and Ian Strong’s garden at 229 Rio Bravo Road, Marjorie and Bob Selden’s garden at 624 La Bajada Road, Doris Thielemann and Charles Hollas’ garden at 119 Sierra Vista Drive, Priscilla Hardekopf’s garden at 119 La Vista Drive and the Pajarito Environmental Education Center’s gardens at 2600 Canyon Road.

To learn more about the Los Alamos Master Gardeners, log onto lamgonline.org.

To learn how to become a master gardener, call the New Mexico State University’s Los Alamos Extension Office at 662-2656.