Plan a fall garden visit for learning and enjoyment

By Mary Fran McClure
WSU Chelan/Douglas County Master Gardener

People viewing fenced garden.
The new cottage garden theme of Homer’s Garden, seen here in a photo taken in mid-October, has drawn lots of kudos this year. – Provided photo/Mary Fran McClure
Mary Fran McClure
Mary Fran McClure – WSU Extension Chelan/Douglas County Master Gardener – photo by Don Seabrook, Wenatchee World

A stroll through the Community Education Garden (we shorten it to CEG) is enjoyable any time of year. This transition month toward garden dormancy means structural elements take center stage rather than plants.

WSU/Chelan-Douglas Master Gardeners are serious about maintaining and enhancing this garden, and it shows. It’s educational for visitors as well as Master Gardeners, as every gardener is well aware of things never remaining constant.

For anyone who hasn’t visited the garden on the northwest corner of Western and Springwater avenues in Wenatchee, it’s always open to visitors. The garden covers nearly three quarters of an acre and contains a grouping of 14 theme gardens, including butterfly, raised beds of vegetable and herbs, compost area, deer-resistant plants, native plants, roses and dahlias, and utility-friendly trees.

Recent enhancements you might note include a bent archway spanning two raised beds. The archway is made of sturdy 6-inch fencing. This summer, morning glories enhanced the arch; last year, tiny Mexican pickling cucumber vines wound their way up and over the arch.

This summer, Homer’s Garden — sporting a complete renovation and new theme — attracted lots of positive attention. The garden honors the late Homer McNeill, the visionary of this education garden. He was the major force behind working with WSU Tree Fruit Research Center and coming to an agreement where Ma15ster Gardeners took over a huge lawn area and transformed it into the current CEG. Actual work began in 2010.

Homer’s Garden originally contained three layers of raised beds showcasing colorful perennials. Used Trex boards that formed raised beds became a challenge after a dozen years, as plants worked their way out of mitered corners and lush plantings overflowed the small beds. It was time for a redesign.

A cottage garden theme was chosen, complete with a white picket fence surrounding this central garden, connecting to two existing arbors. Accenting the circular shape, the fence adds support to the tallest flowers at the back of the flower beds, a hallmark of cottage gardens.

Angell Clark heads up Homer’s Garden. She started a wealth of annuals and perennials from seed in a hoop house at her Chelan home. A work party planted 341 plants in mid-May, and it didn’t take long for an amazing display of typical cottage garden color that catch everyone’s attention. Spring blooming bulbs have been added, and the garden will display plant interest every season.

CEG manger Kate Bratrude says some 30 Master Gardeners are regular volunteers for the huge project of maintaining the CEG. Their duties include lots of deadheading, managing irrigation, curtailing insect or diseases, and moving and adding plants. In addition, we present our 3rd Saturday in the Garden education series May through September, as well as other seasonal education events scattered throughout the year.

“One of the many reasons visitors come to the garden every season is so they can choose plants for their gardens with year-around interest,” says Bratrude.

Enjoy a visit to the garden and you might get ideas for your own landscape.