Step inside six of the finest gardens in the city. From 4:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 27, the University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener program of Olmsted County presents its annual Tour with the Masters Garden Tour.
All gardens were hand selected by master gardeners. The tour can be experienced on a trolley or as a self-guided expedition. For tour-goer convenience, the masters select gardens in close proximity to one another; this year’s tour takes place on the Southwest side of the city.
$5 wristbands for the self-guided tour become available on the second Sunday of July at Sargent’s on 2nd. You can also buy them at 4:00 p.m. on the day of the tour at the SMART Garden parking lot outside the Heintz Center at RCTC. You can reserve a seat on the trolley.
The tour is the group’s only fundraising event; the funds it raises go toward continued community education. Master gardeners are trained by the University of Minnesota Extension office. They teach classes, supply needed items and seeds, and work with groups like the Boys & Girls Club.
“We just really like to share our information and like to get other people interested in gardening,” says Jessie Crane, master gardener and co-chair advertising specialist of the tour.
In that spirit, stationed master gardeners will be at each garden to answer questions and explain nuances.
One of the gardens is inspired by English cottage gardens, with a picket fence and a little kitchen garden with edible flowers like nasturtiums and marigolds. Another, located at a church, features a rain garden installed by church members and master gardeners. There will also be a vegetable garden with raised beds and a other gardens rich with all kinds of flowers and bushes.
One garden on the tour will feature a garden sample station, where master gardeners come up with a small tasting menu of three or four snacks made from the gardens.
Master gardeners begin cruising the city in search of next year’s featured gardens right after the tour.
“We have a team of people that go out a year in advance and scout out our gardens and ask just the general public.. Sometimes we’ll just go up to their door and knock and say, ‘We think you have a beautiful garden, would you mind being on the tour’?” says Crane.
“We have run across just so many people that enjoy that type of thing, whether it’s just a leisurely, little backyard garden to, there are people that just, they like hostas… I’ve met people that travel around the world just to collect different types of hostas,” Crane says.