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Hostas, trees and more featured in tour of master gardeners’ gardens

Janie Chisholm walks through her garden, which is full of hostas, at her east Wichita home Wednesday. Her home is part of the Master Gardener Garden Tour. (May 24, 2017)
Janie Chisholm walks through her garden, which is full of hostas, at her east Wichita home Wednesday. Her home is part of the Master Gardener Garden Tour. (May 24, 2017) The Wichita Eagle

Janie Chisholm has an addiction to hostas.

“We’re hostaholics,” she said. She and her husband, Dave, maintain more than 200 hosta plants in their gardens at 127 S. Pinecrest in the Crown Heights neighborhood, and they add more to their collection every year.

Melody Mynatt has an affinity for trees. When she and her husband, Ed, had to have a 100-year-old silver maple tree removed in 2012 from their backyard at 948 Porter in Riverside, she replaced the massive tree with several others: a redwood, a trio of Arizona cypress, a swamp white oak, a pin oak and several ornamental trees. And not all of them are growing in the ground since most of her backyard is hardscaped with 10 tons of cut limestone. Many grow in pots.

Gardening enthusiasts can wander through the gardens at the homes of Chisholm and Mynatt, and at four other residences in the greater Wichita area, during the Master Gardener Garden Tour next weekend, starting Friday.

The tour features a formal garden, a hosta haven, a pollinator garden, a vineyard, a garden that adapted to accommodate change and a garden with plenty of containers and lots of annual and perennial flowers. The gardens are maintained by master gardeners who have completed extensive training through K-State Research and Extension’s master gardener volunteer program.

Proceeds from the $10 tour tickets fund the master gardener program, part of which includes answering gardening questions from locals by email, calls and walk-ins to the extension office during the spring, summer and fall. Master gardeners will be available at each of the gardens during the tour to answer questions.

Although some hostas can be seen in the east-facing front garden at the Chisholms’ residence, it’s the backyard that has them on full display. Hostas of almost every shape, size and color can be found in the yard that also features a koi pond and waterfall and an assortment of gazing balls.

“There’s chartreuse, there’s variegated, there’s upright, there’s spreading,” said Chisholm, as she ticked off a few features of her hostas. A member of the local Hosta Society chapter, Chisholm also pointed out hostas with corrugated textured leaves and rippled-edge leaves.

The garden has hostas of several sizes, from huge mounding, in-ground plants to tiny, 4-inch ones in pots. They can be found in the border beds along the backyard fence, around the pond, in the pond and on the deck. She overwinters the ones in the pots by gathering them in a corner of the yard and tucking them in for the season with a blanket of leaves.

Her husband, Dave, has starting collecting and planting mini-hostas. Three small hostas can easily fit in a deck pot.

“His justification for buying the minis is that we’re running out of room,” Chisholm said.

Although the hostas are plentiful, those aren’t the only plants in her garden. There are ferns, clematis and several annual impatiens. The latter “bring a pop of color to all the green,” she said.

Mynatt’s garden also has pockets of colors and variations. Her preferred color palette is yellows, purples and light blues. Those are on full display in her front garden, which features daisies, echinacea, lamb’s ear, penstemon, coreopsis, salvia and several other native plants. The plants are great pollinators and drought-resistant, she said.

On the way to her backyard, visitors will see three large stock watering troughs that have been turned into raised beds for tomato and basil plants, while cucumbers and zucchini are planted in other pots.

With the loss of the maple tree that provided lots of shade, Mynatt said she had gotten a little “frantic. I realized I had a parking lot. Not many trees or shrubs.”

So she planted lots of trees and lots of pots in her backyard.

Right inside the fence door is Mynatt’s coleus corner, a collection of more than a dozen pots featuring variations of the plants. The spot where the Mynatts’ beloved maple tree – a chunk of which was turned into a planter near the vegetable troughs – is now growing with an Arizona cypress, a redwood tree and a purple smoke tree. Between that spot and the Mynatts’ home, a small patio is made even more intimate with a grouping of huge pots planted with a variety of trees, including two more Arizona cypress and a dwarf red bud that’s in its third season in her largest pot. The trees create a movable, living screen.

Pots serve a practical purpose for Mynatt’s gardens. They keep plants protected from the couple’s four dogs. To maintain the trees in pots, Mynatt regularly waters them during the fall and winter.

Trees in pots don’t survive as long as trees in the ground but that’s OK with Mynatt, who likes to change things up in her garden.

“Gardening is organic. It changes all the time.”

Master Gardener Garden Tour

What: Tour six gardens of master gardeners. Plants are labeled, and master gardeners are available at each garden to answer gardening questions.

Where: 127 S. Pinecrest, 1341 N. Valleyview, 948 Porter, 8102 Meadow Pass in Wichita; 55 E.

Norfolk, Eastborough; and 21421 W. 37th St. North, Colwich

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 2 and 3; noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 4

Tickets: $10. Tickets available in advance at the Sedgwick County Extension Education Center, 7001 W. 21st St., Wichita, or at the individual gardens on the days of the tour.

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