Master gardeners’ tour begins next weekend

05/10/2014 7:22 AM

08/06/2014 11:19 AM

I wonder what the ducks are going to do during the garden tour.

Ducks live in the backyards of at least some of the yards that will be on the master gardeners’ tour next weekend. Karen Sanders-West even has a duck patio at the edge of her wildlife-habitat backyard, which shimmies up to an unusually pretty retention pond, edged in rocks.

But she’s not too worried. The ducks that are around now are year-round residents who probably won’t be permanently discombobulated by three days of garden-tour traffic.

Seven gardens in Wichita, Haysville and Derby will be on the garden tour, along with the Arc of Sedgwick County Rows of Sharin’ Community Garden. Tickets are $10 and are good all three days of the tour – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and May 17, and noon to 4 p.m. May 18. Signs at the intersections near the gardens will direct people toward exact locations.

The three Wichita gardens on the tour are on the west side – and on the wild side. Two of them are two houses apart backing up to that retention pond in Autumn Ridge, and the other is down 119th Street in Lost Creek. Two gardens on the tour are in Derby, and two are in Haysville.

One of those in Haysville belongs to Everett Price, the master gardener who is the star of the videos I’ve been doing about his vegetable garden this spring.

Everett and his wife, Michelle, have a spacious yard of Bermuda across from Riggs Park in Haysville. Everett is one of those creative-thinking handy types. The yard has island beds, a concrete patio and a stone patio, a junk pile that Everett has restyled as a staging area (compost pile and materials ready to be remade into useful items), an enclosed vegetable garden, a bed solely of garlic (yes, these people know how to live), and a gas meter painted brown to blend in with an adjacent trellis.

As one of his latest projects, Everett made what he calls a patio counter, covering the air-conditioning condenser, a window well and crawlspace on the patio. “I kind of wanted all that to go away,” he says. He took 2-by-2 pickets he’d salvaged, stained them and used them to make good-looking cabinets around the utilities. Composite decking material was used for the countertops, which can hold food for cookouts and container gardens the rest of the time.

Sanders-West also has creative ideas at work in her backyard. Who shouldn’t have a spigot on the deck for watering pots? Her set-up looks like a flower in itself: The faucet’s knob is blue, and the light green coiled hose is planted out of the way in a wire basket hanging off the side of the deck rail.

An awning over the west-facing deck was a great investment, Sanders-West says; it has a sensor that makes it automatically retract when the wind picks up. And the walk-out under the deck is screened-in so her dogs and cats can go out there, and that space also encloses a shed that is virtually invisible. Boulders in the lawn have indentations that hold water for butterflies.

The weather always throws something crazy at gardeners before a garden tour. This year it was a hiccuping spring that went straight into record-setting summer, along with hammering winds – and little rain.

But once again, the gardeners have made places of beauty where garden-tourists can find inspiration and solutions for their own challenges. Master gardeners will be around to point out special features and answer questions. They might even offer a reassuring word to a displaced duck.

About Annie Calovich

Annie writes about home and garden, including her Bit of Earth column on Saturdays. She has been at The Eagle since 1985, working as a copy editor, a nation/world editor and a reporter. She’s a KU graduate who started out at The Coffeyville Journal.

Contact Annie at 316-268-6596 or

Follow Annie on Twitter: @AnnieCalovich

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