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PRAIRIE GARDENER: Annual Grand Forks Horticulture Society garden tour on tap July 21-22

Darrel Koehler

Despite the heat and drought conditions, which have plagued the region for much of the summer, local gardeners are preparing their flower gardens for the 28th annual garden tour. The event, sponsored by the Grand Forks Horticulture Society has become a summer tradition for area gardeners

The two-day event set for July 21-22 will be similar to past tours. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, said Karon Miller, president of the group. A good place to begin the tour is the Myra Museum at the, Grand Forks County Historical Society grounds, 2405 Belmont Road. You can buy your tickets on site and began the six-garden tour from that location. Same-day tickets are available at All Season's and Tim Shea's Nursery in Grand Forks, Home of Economy I n Grand Forks or Hardware Hank in East Grand Forks. No advanced tickets will be sold again this year.

The gardens on the tour consist of five new gardens and a repeat garden in East Grand Forks, which won wide acclaim several years ago. You can began your garden tour at the Myra, which has a variety of rose plantings as well as other perennials, many of which are favorites from the past including hollyhocks and lilies. The gardens will not be named in advance as in the past there were problems with visitors who wanted to get a preview. Information on the gardens and directions are included with the ticket. All of the gardens are in Grand Forks or East Grand Forks. There are no rural gardens listed this year..


Tickets are $10 each or the same as a year ago. No rain date is planned and the tour will go on as indicated regardless of weather conditions. A year ago, a severe storm struck on Saturday, which caused problems. A big factor this year may be the heat, which has plagued much of the region and nation for the past month. Bring along water, sunscreen and a hat, so you will be protected if the heat wave continues. Comfortable, sturdy shoes are another good choice.

As usual, coffee and doughnuts will be offered the first day of the two-day event. This is designed for the early birds who want to tour the gardens before it gets hot. The plant sale, which is one of the most popular events, will be at the Myra. If you want something unique for your garden in terms of plants, get to the sale early as supply is limited.

This is the second year that Debra Hopkins, East Grand Forks, has headed up the garden tour. For many years, Zona Pearson, also of East Grand Forks, was in charge of the tour, but had to step down in 2011 due to personal and family health issues.

The tour attracts about 600 visitors in a real good year. However, attendance can be reduced because of competing events or if the weather conditions, such as rain or intense heat, strike. This one of two major events the society sponsors. The other is "Gardening Saturday" in which the society co-sponsors a day-long event in early April with the NDSU Grand Forks County Extension Service.

Proceeds from both events are channeled into community beautification and education projects sponsored by the society, which is made up of gardeners from Grand Forks, East Grand Forks and surrounding areas.

Additional information can be obtained by contacting Karon Miller at (701) 772-2835.

State meeting

The North Dakota State Horticultural Society will hold its state meeting July 26-28 at the Bismarck State College Career Academy. The event will kick off July 26 when the group meets at 4 p.m. at the Dragonfly Garden by the United Tribes Technical College at 3315 University Drive. Those attending will learn new techniques for growing fruits and roses in North Dakota. Those attending also should pick up a map of the rest of the yards on tour that night.

Keynote speaker will be Eric Bergeson, Fertile, Minn., who will speak on the topic, "Down on the Farm", which will also include an evening of music. His keynote speech will be Saturday morning when he discusses "Gardening in Our Difficult Climate" and his last talk will be "Growing Fruit in the North." He is a popular speaker in the area as well as operating Bergeson Nursery in Fertile.

Brenda Newton, a Manitoba gardener, will present a seminar on hostas and heucheras. She grows more than 2,500 different perennials including 400 hostas in her garden.

Some of the other topics include pruning, sun safety, plants that hog the garden, native plants, roses, food preservation, rain barrels, water gardens, conifers, landscaping tips, composting and companion planting. There will be three hours of tours on Friday and on Saturday in an air-conditioned bus.

For more information on housing, registration or the program, call Diane Gronfur at (701) 220-6494.

Extreme heat

Soaring daily temperatures and limited rainfall have taken their tolls as both gardeners and farmers seek a break from what may be a summer to remember. The last major drought year was 1988, which took a tremendous toll. While it hasn't reached that point yet, the long-term prediction calls for more heat and dry conditions.

Pots, planters and flower baskets have been hard hit as they often have to watered several times per day just to keep ahead of the dry conditions, made worst by frequent hot, dry winds.

If you have newly planted trees, shrubs or perennials you should be sure and water them frequently. The soaring temperatures and dry conditions will do a number on them unless they receive care.

The dry, hot conditions also can cause some problems for tomatoes. If these conditions persist, we could end up with blossom-end rot. You can purchase a product in garden centers or hardware stores that will help ease the problem. Or, you can maintain a scheduled watering program. Mulching also will help. Grass clippings work well in conserving water.

Koehler is the Herald's garden columnist. Send garden questions to him in care the Grand Forks Herald, Box 6008, Grand Forks ND 58206-6008.