Summer tours show wide variety of garden interests
By Barb Gorges
Within the space of a week in mid-July, I went on seven garden tours—no, nothing like my week in Vancouver, British Columbia, with Road Scholar. Just Wyoming gardens.
The first was Piney Island Native Plants at Sheridan College, owned by Alisha Bretzman. The greenhouse full of exuberant plants uses an evaporative wall and was cooler than the 102 degrees outside. The plant list on Alisha’s website is pretty much my wish list and she is willing to ship.
The next day tromping around in the flower-filled Bighorns was another form of garden tour. Then Mark and I met up with our old friends Michelle and Bill to walk around Kendrick Arboretum adjacent to Trail End, the house Governor/Senator Kendrick finished building in 1913. He planted a specimen of each of as many Wyoming native trees as he could. In 2013, the area became a designated arboretum, a garden of trees, and more have been planted since.
We visited friends Dusty and Jacelyn on their family’s ranch in the Black Hills and they gave us a tour of scenic spots. The ponderosa pine forest, my favorite, is very open and garden-like.
Outside Douglas, my friend Jean took me to see her pollinator garden. Some of it comes from the free seed packets given out by the Converse County Conservation District. It’s a different mix from our conservation district. She also lamented how difficult it was to grow fruit trees, even though she is 1,200 feet lower in elevation than us. Those deer are so sneaky.
Back home, Laramie County Master Gardeners met at a member’s garden to enjoy the results of her hard work. Jutta Arkan’s perennial garden beds are even more full and colorful than last year. Bees were busy and a hummingbird stopped by, even though her garden is an island on the prairie.
Earlier in the day, Carol Creswell gave me a tour of her garden. She lives about 10 blocks from me. She and her husband have lived in the same house for 54 years. However, the house is not the same now—it has grown, filling the lot nearly to the mandatory setback from the property boundaries. Every remaining square inch is landscaped with timbers, rocks, pavers, shrubs, trees and flowers. There’s no lawn, but I think I spotted an ornamental grass or two. There’s a vignette around every corner. And so many corners to explore. The best is seen from the covered patio, but I like the view from the front sidewalk too.
Carol is never satisfied. There’s always some improvement she can imagine. The week I visited it was the reconstruction of the waterfall so that it won’t leak. Next is installing drip irrigation. She’s been hand watering everything this dry summer. And then there’s the two-story atrium where Carol’s houseplants can stretch out in indoor sunshine.
Booyong Kim’s house also has a two-story atrium. It’s where her friends send their plants when they outgrow ordinary house spaces.
If you frequent the winter farmers market at the depot or the one on Tuesday afternoons in the summer outside the east end of the mall, you’ve seen her selling kimchee, potstickers and other delicious food. In the fall she will be teaching Korean cooking classes on Saturdays through Laramie County Community College’s non-credit Life Enrichment classes listed in their Outreach and Workforce Development catalog.
Booyong’s description of her garden philosophy is intriguing, and months ago she agreed to my visiting this summer.
First, her garden is shaped by a gently curved retaining wall on one side which is echoed in reverse on the other side, forming the tapered shape of an eye. Where the iris would be there are eight pie-shaped beds radiating, delineated by boards (her husband tackled the weird angles), with pathways between them. The very center is like the pupil, a round bed marked by bricks.
The whites of the eye are rather free-form, filled with various flowers, some volunteers. The radiating beds, however, are under more intense cultivation: vegetables and herbs. Booyong’s mother, visiting from Korea this summer, is hard at work, but comes over to greet me. She is the reason the vegetables are identified with hand-painted signs in both English and Korean.
Some of Booyong’s treasured plants grow in the walkways between the beds. The pigweed tidy gardeners would pull out or try to avoid by using weed-barrier cloth, are actually edible, with high nutrition values.
While Booyong is still trying to decide what is special enough to plant in the very center, the pupil, she went ahead this year with an experiment: plowing a patch of prairie next to the house to grow row crops. Friends Rusty Brinkman and Vally Gollogly helped her plant two long rows of garlic that she was about to harvest. She uses it a lot in her dishes. Her other vegetables looked good, however, she said, the carrots were a bust.
It’s been a tough year so far for our landscape and garden plants. But the growing season isn’t over yet.