A walk in a beautiful garden can inspire but also intimidate: The visitor can be left wondering how much the homeowners got their hands dirty or how much was done by a professional.
An upcoming Raleigh-area garden tour is looking to inspire do-it-yourself types by offering a self-guided tour of eight gardens where the homeowners did the bulk of the designing and planting themselves. The homeowners will be on hand to answer questions on how they tackled various projects, including building a 200-seat amphitheater, digging a goldfish pond and erecting a shade grotto tucked underneath a deck.
The Gardeners of Wake County is organizing the Sept. 19-20 tour to raise money for scholarships for horticulture students at N.C. State University.
Among the gardens on display is C.J. Dykes’, whose day job is as a landscape supervisor for the Wake County Public Schools, where he has worked for 28 years. His garden has been featured on previous local garden tours.
Dykes describes his quarter-acre lot in Cary as an “English cottage garden and woodland paradise.” His garden includes that shade grotto under the deck, as well as a rose garden with about 100 bushes, many tropical plants and a figure-eight walking path in a woodland garden. He noted that most of his garden is handicap accessible.
Another garden on the tour is Mark Boone’s 7-acre property off Ebenezer Church Road in West Raleigh. Boone’s garden includes a 200-seat amphitheater, where three of Boone’s children have been married, a woodland garden, bridges, ponds, a kitchen garden and much more. (His property is known for its Nativity scene during the holidays.)
Boone said his children complained growing up because they had to spend their weekends working in the garden. But he proudly states, it taught them to work.
His advice to beginning gardeners on tackling projects: “Do one thing at a time, and before long it adds up.”
Upcoming fall garden tours
Gardeners of Wake County Fall Garden Tour: A self-guided tour of eight gardens in Wake County will be 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 19 and 1-5 p.m. Sept. 20. Tickets will be available at each garden for cash or check. Tickets are $15. Proceeds go to scholarships for N.C. State horticulture students.
Fuquay-Varina Garden Club Fall Garden Tour: This tour will be 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 12 and 1-5 p.m. Sept. 13. Tickets cost $18 on the day of the tour or $15 in advance at The Garden Hut, David Anthony’s Gifts, Ashley’s Art Gallery or online.
Garden Conservancy’s Open Days: Raleigh’s JC Raulston Arboretum sponsors a tour of five gardens 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 3 and noon-5 p.m. Oct. 4. The theme is the “Sandy Side of Raleigh,” featuring gardens in Raleigh, Fuquay-Varina, Apex, Garner and Holly Springs where the soil has more sand. Admission is $7 per garden. Books of six tickets are $35 at the Arboretum through Oct. 2. Individual tickets and ticket books will be available at each garden during the event.
Info: nando.com/gardenconservancy, 919-513-7457
3 tips for Triangle gardeners
Cary gardener C.J. Dykes shared a few gardening tips during our interview that were too good not to share:
▪ Amend the soil. Add pine bark soil conditioner or compost to every hole you dig for planting and always dig the hole larger than you need for the plant. If you don’t, the roots will hit the clay and have nowhere else to go.
▪ Fend off moles and voles. Use PermaTill, a slate product added to the soil that discourages voles because the animals do not dig through materials that are coarse in texture.
▪ Keep deer away. Dykes swears by coyote urine, which is available from Leg Up Enterprises for $22.99 for 16 ounces. He places soaked cotton balls strategically around the garden. For a spray-on deterrent, he recommends Repels-All, available at most garden centers.