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water feature

A peaceful water feature from a previous Flagstaff Tour of Artful Gardens.

Since 2014, the Coconino Master Gardener Association and Viola’s Flower Garden have been sponsoring the Flagstaff Tour of Artful Gardens in late July.

Each year, six local gardeners tidy up and open their yards to the public for the day. There have been large as well as small gardens and elaborate and simple ones. We’ve seen waterfalls, ponds, treehouses, winding paths, gorgeous hardscapes, and secret seating areas. And, as the title suggests, there is usually interesting yard art. The gardeners are always around to chat, and Master Gardeners are there to answer questions and give gardening advice. It’s a great way to get ideas, and to learn what plants can flourish in our harsh climate.

The first year featured all artists’ gardens. They were designed by painters, a sculptor, a writer and a musician. There was a whimsical yard, gardens in a natural forest setting, and even a beach with a landscaped moat under the pines. And much more.

Since then, many gardeners have opened their hearts and yards to help with our event. Everyone seems to have a great time when they participate. It took years for us to convince one friend of ours to be in the tour, and he really had a fun time when he agreed to host last year. He met old friends and made new ones. We’ve had local Master Gardeners show their varied and incredible yards, including Loni Shapiro, Sherline Alexander, Debi Stalvey, Jackie Clark, Martha Pahler and Jean Hockman. Each garden reflects a bit of the gardener’s personality.

You may wonder how we get gardens for the tour. We’re always looking! Some years are easier than others. Lots of times, we drive around for hours and hours. We flag down landscapers, chat with people on the street or in their yards and knock on doors. So, if you see two short women in their 60’s peering over your fence, don’t be alarmed. It’s just me and my co-conspirator Jennifer Quarterman. We’re harmless! It has been a great experience to meet some wonderful characters and to see some of Flagstaff’s finest gardens.

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This event has become a local favorite. Friends get together and make a day out of it. We also see many out-of-towners. Members of the Prescott, Payson, and Sedona garden clubs usually come. Our friend in Munds Parks spreads the word, and we see lots of her friends. Another good friend in Cottonwood posts flyers in her area. Last year we had people from as far away as New York state and Ecuador attend our tour.

This year we’re so pleased with the six gardens showcased. They’re all very different, depending on their topography and setting. One of the gardens might be the most artful one yet. Some of the art is a collaboration of glass and metal. They’re all creative and fun in their own way. Participants will not be disappointed.

Anyone can join the Tour of Artful Gardens on Saturday, July 20 from 10 AM-3 PM. Entry fee costs $12 per person and can only be purchased the day of the event with cash or check at Viola’s Flower Garden (610 S. State Rte. 89A). Admission includes a map of the tour and will be handed out the day of the event at Viola’s. A special thanks to Art and Robyn, owners of Viola’s Flower Garden, for their support of the tour every year.

They pay for the event-related expenses, help find gardens, and set up the ticket sales tent on their flower-filled patio. Be sure to plan some time to look around while you’re picking up your tickets. The Coffee 911 truck will have hot and iced coffee and lemon lime juice for sale as well. For more information or reservations for the event, call C. T. at (928) 853-0315. All proceeds from this event are used to fund Flagstaff gardening projects for education, beautification, and sustainability through the Coconino Master Gardener Association.

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Colleen Tucker was in the 2007 Coconino Master Gardener class. The Coconino Master Gardener Association thanks her for her dedication to planning the Flagstaff Tour of Artful Gardens.

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