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Summer Is Garden Tour Time!

Our winters our wet and cool, the springs also. Then we get a month or two of delightful, almost rain-free weather, which we call “summer.” Sometime in June, plants get the word that summer is near, and gardens go crazy – and garden tours flourish like the foxgloves that magically volunteer in vegetable beds. This year there are six garden tours from Long Beach to Cannon Beach, and each one is distinctive.

Lower Columbia Preservation Society Garden Tour, Astoria

10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 13

$15, $10 for members • Purchase tickets the day of the tour at 17th Street and Grand Avenue • 503-325-8024 •

The grandmother of all local garden tours is the one sponsored by the Lower Columbia Preservation Society. This year’s tour marks LCPS’s 13th year, and the self-guided tour of six gardens takes place in the middle of the day this Saturday, concluding with a reception and raffle.

Gardening in the Northwest can be a Darwinian affair: You plant, and what thrives you keep; what doesn’t departs the local gene pool. John and Jan Nybakke have followed this process in a garden that, Jan says, “reached its fullness this year.” Consequently, their garden is on this year’s LCPS tour.

She adds, “There’s a spoke in the wheel of gardening that is very worrying to me, that we have to be aware of climate change. In the 10 years we have lived here it seems the storms have become more severe.”

In particular, the Nybakkes lost many trees during the December 2007 storm, and the trees have been replaced with pools and terraces of color. “It’s a teaching garden,” Jan Nybakke says. “There’s something happening all the time if you are in tune with the patterns of the garden.”

The garden of Kent Easom and LJ Gunderson also evolved. “There was no master plan,” Easom explains. First there was a liner for a pond where large koi now swim, then a waterfall to feed the pond, and an upper patio with fireplaces. “It’s eclectic,” he says.

Like many, local gardener Celia Tippit does all the work on her garden herself. What is remarkable, however, is how beautiful and perfectly maintained her large garden is. When she moved into her house 10 years ago, there was a hill full of giant rhododendrons and not much more. “I just filled in,” she says, with a backyard full of shade-loving plants, including a collection of exotic ferns, and a front yard full of deer-resistant plants: herbs, salvia, lavender, Russian sage and dahlias.

There are three other gardens on the tour. There’s not much driving required (but carpool if possible, Astoria parking being what it is), and plan to spend several hours enjoying the outdoors.

Music in the Gardens, Long Beach (Wash.) Peninsula

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 20

$15 • Purchase tickets at the English Nursery (Seaview), Adelaide’s (Ocean Park) or Peninsula Landscape Supply (Long Beach) •

Plan also to spend half a day the next Saturday at the special self-guided garden tour Music in the Gardens in Long Beach, Wash. Music in the Gardens is a fundraiser for the Water Music Festival Society, a nonprofit organization that provides the Long Beach Peninsula’s Water Music Festival every October.

This year, there will be eight coastal gardens, including what may be the most colorful garden on any tour this year: the cottage garden that surrounds the 1896 home of Jo and Bob Fitzsimmons in a ring of outdoor rooms.

Another garden not to be missed on this tour is the small, exquisite garden of Long Beach city administrator Gene Miles, a memorial to his wife Peggy.

There will be live music by local musicians in every garden as well as food and drink (one garden will be catered, and there is talk of sushi), and the gardeners will be on hand to talk about their landscape challenges and successes.

Gardens by the Sea, Gearhart

10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 27

$25 • Purchase tickets on the day of the tour at Trails End Art Gallery (Gearhart) or in advance at Natural Nook (Gearhart), RiverSea Gallery (Astoria), Beach Books (Seaside) or at Cannon Beach Books • 503-338-6063 •

The sixth annual Clatsop CASA garden tour, Gardens by the Sea, in Gearhart is the most low-key (but that’s not to say laid back) garden tour of the summer. The self-guided five-garden tour begins at Trails End Art Association, 656 A St., which will sell tickets and serve cookies and lemonade treats for tour attendees.

The first garden you’re likely to encounter is that of Karen and Larry Smith, just one block from Trails End. The vine-covered entry to this cottage and the welcoming borders and containers say “English cottage garden” as well as any garden on display this summer. Follow the lawn around the house, and find more garden in the back along with a beautiful greenhouse to explore – a feature every coastal garden should have. Other gardens will include a flowing garden walled in green with a beautiful drainage solution, an inspirational border design and a garden that displays the light of proper placement.

Proceeds from the tour will go toward Clatsop Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), which provides trained volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children in foster care and in court.

SSDA Garden Tour and Breakfast, Seaside

Sunday, July 28

8 a.m. breakfast is $5 • Free guided tour begins at 9 a.m. • Meet at Holiday Inn Express, 34 N. Holladay Drive • RSVP 503-717-1914 •

The next day, Sunday, July 28, there is a truly unusual garden tour next door in Seaside. It doesn’t focus on private gardens, but on the many small – but very special – public garden spaces in Seaside.

Most people take these for granted, but next time you’re in Seaside, look around as you walk from place to place; you’ll see urban pockets filled with lush greenery and bright flowers, where you can sit on a bench and enjoy bucolic relaxation in the middle of town. Or take the annual guided Seaside Downtown Garden Tour and Breakfast sponsored by the Seaside Downtown Development Association. The tour is led by Pam Fleming, who has served as Seaside’s downtown gardener for the past 18 years.

“The gardens are what they are,” says Fleming, “because of 18 years of trial and error. All the plants do well on the coast, but each garden has its own set of conditions.” Each garden has its own theme as well. It might relate to the colors of the business next to the garden, or a garden near a restaurant might give prominence to herbs. “The businesses are reflected in the landscape,” Fleming says.

Bring a notebook, because you’ll learn a lot to use in your own garden, beginning with the 8 a.m. breakfast at Holiday Inn Express, which includes a preview slideshow and door prize drawing. The breakfast is $5, and the walking tour is free. If you’re only interested in the tour, meet outside the Holiday Inn at 9 a.m.

The Edible Garden Tour, Long Beach, Wash.

Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11

$7 or five cans of food admission • Tickets on sale in early August at English Garden Nursery (Seaview), Planter Box Nursery (Long Beach), and Jimella’s (Klipsan) •

Tired of just looking at gardens? How about a garden you can eat? The self-guided Long Beach Edible Garden Tour takes place in mid-August, so you have time to plan for this one. There are eight gardens on the tour, most of them large and thriving operations – but there are several smaller gardens as well, which you’ll find encouraging and informative if you’re planning an edible garden in the backyard.

One of the gardens on the tour is that of Jim and Vera Karnofski. Jim has been a gardener for more than 30 years and has been doing mineral balancing for the last two years. “I have the best of science and the best of antiquity,” he says, “without all the harmful modern agrochemicals.” Ask him how he does it, and Karnofski will describe in detail how he “promotes a living soil” through adjusting its electrolyte balance. (You don’t have to be on the tour for the presentation. Visit the farm, and Karnofski will fill you in and send you off with an organic vegetable or two. (To find the farm, head north on U.S. Highway 101 toward Ilwaco, Wash. The farm is on the right at the end of a guardrail at milepost 10.)

Tour organizer Lisa Mattfield explains that all the gardens “have an edible aspect (fruits, veggies, herbs or small animals),” and that the main purposes of the tour “are fun, sharing information and encouragement about growing food, and raising a little money for the food banks.”

Cannon Beach Cottage and Garden Tour

Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 14 and 15

$20 for luncheon and lecture, $30 for tour, $10 for brunch • Noon luncheon and lecture at Tolovana Inn •

The final garden tour this summer will be Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 14 and 15, the 10th annual Cannon Beach Cottage and Garden Tour, which benefits the Cannon Beach History Center and Museum. A pretour luncheon and lecture begins at noon at Tolovana Inn and will feature “Cannon Beach Cottages” author Jill Grady. The sef-guided tour of the cottages and gardens starts at 1 p.m. and lasts until 5 p.m. Following the tour, mingle with homeowners until 6 p.m. at a reception at the Cannon Beach History Center and Museum, 1387 S. Spruce St., where you can enjoy wine, live music, door prizes and more.

Then, Sunday, Tolovana Inn will host a brunch featuring a presentation by Beth Holland, a Cannon Beach landscape architect and gardener, which ends the event – and the summer of tours.


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