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Pardon My Garden sprouts new mid-valley tour

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By Sue Coyle

Sopris Sun Contributor

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Despite its unassuming name, the Pardon
My Garden club is 80 members strong, all living and gardening
throughout the Roaring Fork Valley. This summer, for the first time
in its 20-year history, the non-profit organization is planning a
tour featuring 11 gardens stretching from Watson Divide to El Jebel.

The first annual Garden Tour, billed as
“Ornamental and Edible Gardens of the Mid-Valley,” will take
place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 27. In the past, the club has
held plant sales and donated the proceeds to individuals or local
organizations, typically giving grants totaling between $5,000 and
$7,000 a year. The ticket sales from this summer’s tour will be
used for the same purpose.

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Club president Kathryn Rooney said the
tour was planned for late summer, rather than spring, in order to see
vegetables in production. The 11 sites featured on the tour,
including residential and municipal gardens, exemplify the ingenuity
and dedication required to grow gardens in an arid, high-altitude
environment. One example, said Rooney, is an El Jebel resident who
produces gardens using only one hour of ditch water a week.

“It’s hard to grow vegetables in
this area,” Rooney said. “If it were easy, we’d call it
planting.”

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Another highlight includes the indoor
and outdoor gardens of Amory Lovins and Judy Hill, who grow tropical
fruits such as bananas year-round in their greenhouse.

Although the tour is self-guided, each
site will have a property owner to greet visitors and answer
questions. Lisa DiNardo, horticultural manager for the town of
Basalt, will act as guide at Basalt Town Hall. “Lisa is one of the
gardening rock stars in our valley,” said Rooney.

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Pardon My Garden members range from
professional gardeners and landscapers to “newbies,” according to
tour publicity chairperson Rachel Dayton. “We all are passionate
about digging in the dirt and growing environmentally conscious
flower gardens and landscapes, as well as organic vegetable gardens,”
Dayton said.

The club plans to hold next summer’s
tour in the Carbondale area.

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Money raised has been used to support
gardening, tree care, vegetable production, sustainable ecology, best
practices for landscape care, conservative use of water and beauty in
public spaces. Included in the list of the club’s grant recipients
are Heritage Park Care Center, Roaring Fork High School’s Grow Dome
project and libraries in Carbondale, Basalt and Glenwood Springs.

Tickets for Saturday’s tour can be
purchased for $10 at pardonmygardenannualtour.eventbrite.com, or the
day-of for $15 at Eagle Crest Nursery in El Jebel until noon.

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