Gardening Etcetera: Flagstaff’s Best Vegetable Garden Tour | Local

Franck Branham

“Flagstaff’s Finest Vegetable Garden Tour” will take place on Saturday, August 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The tour, sponsored by the Coconino County Master Gardener Association (CMGA*) and Warner’s Nursery, will feature eight gardens across Flagstaff.

There are four residential gardens, a micro-farm, an educational garden, a community garden and a public garden. Each garden will demonstrate the challenges of our unique environment.

The Public Garden, located at the Olivia White Hospice Home, is a Flagstaff treasure. This garden oasis is celebrating its 20th anniversary. This is a collaboration between Northland Hospice, CMGA and many community partners. The unique vegetable gardens are enclosed in attractive animal-proof wooden cages, and there are several self-draining beds made from recycled water bins. There are also fruit trees, raspberries and vines. Additionally, there is a tea garden, a fairy garden, and a crevice garden. This large green space is filled with trees, native plants and flowers, including about seventy beautiful rose bushes. Even if this garden is always open to the public, it is only during the visit that you will benefit from the explanation of the garden by volunteers.

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One of the residential gardens features beautiful xeriscaping and native plant beds with vegetables and fruit trees nestled among the other plantings. There are container gardens and raised beds, some of which are terraced to suit the terrain. A very clever rainwater recovery system makes it possible to water the beds while protecting the house. There is also a greenhouse used to raise sprouts of native plants sold at the farmers market.

In another residence we have a gardener who is an expert in maintaining a large composting operation. She also teaches composting and can answer questions or organize a training session. This residence has approximately 1,000 square feet under cultivation. There are container gardens, in-ground gardens and raised beds made from recycled and improved products. All beds are planted with pollinators and companion plants.

The third residential garden is laid out in rows of vegetables interspersed with paths. There is a wide variety of vegetables, melons, herbs and flowers. The gardener specializes in heirloom varieties, including some Ukrainian tomato cultivars. The land is surrounded by seven old apple trees. The host has immense knowledge of vegetable varieties and the challenges of gardening in Flagstaff.

A garden, located on a historic bean farm, is decorated with antique farm equipment, reminding us of its heritage. This garden creatively uses vintage sinks, troughs and an old utility truck as plant containers. It has an amazing range of vegetables, flowers and fruit trees. There is also a koi pond which is home to birds, amphibians and pollinators. Horses, goats, rabbits and various poultry also live on the farm.

The tour’s educational garden allows people of all ages to learn about gardening and connect with the source of their food. This volunteer-run garden features locally adapted heritage plants, native plants, and Native American varieties. Some sections feature indigenous farming techniques. The greenhouse and a large greenhouse make it possible to extend the season. Various composting techniques are also used to recycle garden waste.

Tickets for this event are available at Warner’s Nursery and online. They will be available at Warner from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on August 13 for $15. You will receive a wristband and card when you purchase admission. While you’re at Warner’s, you can do some shopping and have a cup of coffee at Dottie’s Café. If you buy your ticket for $18 online through Eventbrite at, you will receive a map and ticket by email the day before the visit. The gardens will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; hosts and volunteers will be on hand to show you around.

*CMGA is a non-profit gardeners’ group dedicated to teaching classes and growing gardens. Proceeds from the tour will fund education and improvement projects at community gardens. Each year, the CMGA awards between $2,000 and $5,000 in grants.

Frank Branham is a Coconino Master Gardener with Arizona Cooperative Extension and the President of CMGA. He is a retired chef and former owner of the Cottage Place restaurant.

If you have a gardening question, email [email protected] or call the Master Gardener hotline at 928-773-6115 and leave a message. A Master Gardener will answer you.

Terri S. Tomasini