Steele: September highlight for fall season

Although there are a number of late spring/early summer garden tours in the valley, I think this is the first fall tour.

Blooming ornamental grasses add a bold autumn statement in the Summerland Ornamental Gardens.

Two exciting new gardening events take place next weekend in Summerland and Kelowna.

Friends of the Summerland Ornamental Gardens have organized their first Autumn Garden Tour for Saturday, Sept. 28, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Although there are a number of late spring/early summer garden tours in the valley, I think this is the first fall tour. It will provide new inspiration for late season gardening.

The self-guided tour includes seven private Summerland gardens; the Dr. Andrew Pavilion Therapeutic Garden; and an art show, guided tours of the house and gardens, and plants for sale at Summerland Ornamental Gardens (SOG).

Gardens range from three years to thirty. Parts of the SOG date back to 1916. When parking, check its new Welcome Garden.

Three gardens feature xeriscape plants. One has a buffalo grass lawn and woolly thyme as a lawn substitute. Another has an eco-turf lawn (low-mow, low-grow, low-water) as well as a hedge of native Rocky Mountain juniper (a substitute for water-thirsty cedars).

One front lawn has been replaced entirely with a lovely xeriscape garden featuring native species.

Six gardens include creative food gardens and three have greenhouses extending the growing season. One garden has a cold storage room and Mason bee houses.

Two artists will have studios open during the tour allowing their indoor and outdoor creativity to be viewed.

Two will have wine tasting and food—Okanagan Crush Pad Winery and Creperie OooLaLa in one and Thornhaven Winery and True Grain Bakery in the other.

One private garden and the SOG have many varieties of ornamental grasses in their full autumn glory.

Available from Art Knapps, Bylands and Dogwood nurseries, tickets are $20.

Proceeds go to the non-profit Friends of the Summerland Ornamental Gardens who maintain and enhance the gardens(www.summerlandornamentalgardens.org).

In Kelowna, a guided bicycle tour of seven eco-friendly, lawn-free front yards has been organized by ‘Turf the Turf’ for Sept. 27, 28  and 29. It’s a National Culture Days event.

The gardens illustrate many creative and productive ways to use a front yard.

Starting at the Kelowna Art Gallery, this unique event is an easy 6 kilometre, two hour bicycle tour on flat streets. It’s child friendly. You need to supply your own bike, helmet and mp3 audio device.

I’m looking forward to assisting with guiding Sept. 27. Pre-registration is essential for these free tours with a limit of ten participants/tour. For more information and to register on-line, go to  http://turftheturf.wordpress.com.

‘Turf the Turf’ is a project funded by a City of Kelowna Community Arts Grant and the UBCO Eco-Arts Incubator. Thanks goes to Maggie Shirley for creating the tour and to gardeners who shared their stories to help others who want to get rid of high-maintenance, water-thirsty lawns.

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