KENNEWICK -- A couple of weeks ago, I ran into someone who had been in our local Master Gardener program 30 years ago -- long before the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden in Kennewick was started.
Her recent visit to the demonstration garden was her first. She was astounded to see what the dedication and time of many Master Gardener volunteers had accomplished during the past 11 years.
This weekend, while our fall weather is so glorious, treat yourself to a visit to the demonstration garden. It is simply spectacular. It covers almost three acres, so plan for enough time to see the entire garden.
Bring your camera to take pictures and bring a notepad too. It's a great place to pick up ideas for your own yard and garden.
There are 22 individual theme gardens within the demonstration garden. Here are just a few highlights that you will not want to miss on your visit.
It won't be long before frost will finish off the Entryway Garden near the library. These planters are filled with ornamental sweet potato vines, purple fountain grass and pink and yellow petunias, all donated by Proven Winners. I adore the combination of dark purple sweet potato vines with yellow trailing petunias and lime green sweet potato vines with pink petunias.
A little farther along the path, not too far from the Water Garden, is the Vegetable Garden. Even with a tomato crop failure because of a wilt disease, the Master Gardeners have been able to harvest and donate more than 1,000 pounds of produce to local food banks.
As this garden winds down, note the different ways the Master Gardeners have demonstrated caging tomatoes and supporting vining crops. Check out the intensive "square foot" garden too.
During the past 11 years, the trees in the Shade Gardens and the Small Tree Arboretum have had time to grow. These three gardens and the rest of the demonstration garden allow home gardeners to see what a variety of small and large trees look like, and how they perform in our region. While checking out the trees, be sure to take note of the groundcovers that help crowd out weeds. I especially like the ornamental strawberries with their pretty pink flowers.
About midway along the garden path is the Japanese Garden. Fall and spring are when this garden is at its best. In the fall, beautiful mounds of chrysanthemums are in bloom. These are the same type of chrys-anthemums that you can buy anywhere for planters during the fall, but they have been carefully "pinched back" to encourage a multitude of yellow, orange, pink and purple flowers.
On the other side of the "tea house" in the Japanese Garden is the Four Season Gardens. It resembles a cottage garden and is full of a variety of perennial flowers. There are four areas within this garden, each dedicated to being at its best during one of the seasons of the year.
Also not to be missed are the roses in the Rose Garden. Oh, the roses! There are more than 400 rose bushes in this garden. While the season might be quickly fading, the colors of the blooms are at their most intense during these cooler days.
If you go
The Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden is open to the public every day of the year. It is behind Mid-Columbia Library at 1620 S. Union in Kennewick.
To keep you informed about the demonstration garden and WSU Master Gardener program events, the Master Gardeners are available on the web, Facebook and Twitter.
Here is where you can find them:
* Online: http://county.wsu.edu/benton-franklin/gardening
* Facebook: www.facebook.com/wsumastergardeners
* Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/BFMastrGardener
* Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for the Washington State University Benton County Extension.