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Kick off the summer with 11th annual Gardens on Tour

Seven private residences, Durango Hot Springs and library greenspace to be featured
Stevie Chambers works to get her mother’s garden ready for the Durango Botanical Society’s Gardens on Tour in June 2014. Durango Botanic Gardens is hosting its 11th annual Gardens on Tour on June 22. (Durango Herald file)

Durango Botanic Gardens is preparing for its 11th annual Gardens on Tour event, where members, residents and visitors can take a self-guided jaunt to exemplary gardens at private residences, Durango Hot Springs and the gardens at Durango Public Library.

Durango Botanic Gardens marketing director Barbara Johnson said the event is the nonprofit organization’s largest fundraiser and is meant to deliver an educational and inspirational experience.

“Our main goal is to really educate people on what they can do in their own yards,” she said on Saturday.

The tours, which feature eight gardens in all, are staffed by about 40 volunteers this year and had a turnout of 424 participants last summer, often attract newcomers to Durango. Some are looking to move to the area and get a feel for how they can adapt to its challenging and varied growing zones.

“It gives them an idea of what they can grow in this area, in possibly similar spaces. Some are larger, some are smaller,” Johnson said.

Every year, the gardens on display vary in stages of growth, giving visitors glimpses of beginning-to-end possibilities for their own gardens.

Durango Botanic Gardens works with several local landscaping companies to help participants present the very best their gardens can offer for the tours, Johnson said.

Durango Hot Springs, which also opened its garden last year for the tour, is at 6475 County Road 203 in the Animas Valley outside Durango proper, which has its own climate and growing needs.

Johnson said seeing the potential of gardens outside of town broadens people’s experiences.

Durango is a challenging place to grow with dry summers and chillingly cold winters that also threaten to bury plants under the snow, she said.

“It's quite the challenge and people love it,” she said. “And we really try to get the word out.”

Johnson said the annual Gardens on Tour has helped its membership numbers explode in recent years. Four years ago, the botanic gardens had about 85 members. Today, it’s 525 members strong, she said.

“People have really responded to the free classes and the tours that we provide,” she said. “If anyone ever wants a tour of … our own gardens, our docents are trained to give tours.”

She said members of the botanic gardens receive perks such as discounts at local nurseries.

The tour is self-guided with volunteers at each featured location to help property owners manage foot traffic and keep parking organized, she said.

A guidebook with a map of participating gardens and tickets will be distributed at the Durango Public Library June 21-22. The tour will take place June 22.

Durango Botanic Gardens members can buy tickets for $35. Non-members can participate for $45.

Visitors are encouraged to pre-register for the event online at durangobotanicgardens.org.

As of Saturday, 249 people had registered for the tour online.


Carol Wallace’s garden at 601 Rainbow Road was featured in the Durango Botanical Society’s 2015 Gardens on Tour. (Durango Herald file)

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