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By Judy Smith | Photos courtesy of Washington County Master Gardeners

Garden Gate Tour

The Washington County Master Gardeners Garden Gate Tour takes place June 8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Four home gardens in and near Springdale will be featured as well as Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, which is a project site for Master Gardener volunteers. Each garden will also host a Growing Good Gardeners information station staffed by local nonprofit organizations.

Tickets are $15 and may be purchased through June 8 on the Washington County Master Gardener website at On June 8, tickets may also be purchased by cash or check at Botanical Garden of the Ozarks.

Home Gardens

“Neighborly Natives” is the garden of Washington County Master Gardener Mariette Spidel. Gardening, collecting house plants, propagating plants and nurturing things that grow are her heritage from her grandparents. For 11 years, she has slowly removed the traditional outdoor garden landscape and transitioned to native perennials, trees and shrubs, focusing on host and nectar plants for pollinators and hummingbirds. The pollinator garden offers DIY water features for birds and butterflies and a native bee house. The organic vegetable garden leads to the garden shed, where visitors can enjoy refreshments.

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  • Growing Good Gardeners information station: “NWA Master Naturalists Plant Sale” – Featuring homegrown native plants. NOTE: You must be a tour ticket holder to purchase plants at this sale.


“The Gardening Robinettes 3.0” belongs to Washington County Master Gardener Ruthanne Hill. She grew up playing in her grandparents’ gardens and commercial greenhouses. Her parents had a vegetable garden, and now, Ruthanne is the gardener, thus 3.0 — the third generation. She gardens with two goals: aesthetic and gastronomic. Her garden includes native perennials such as milkweed, coneflower and coreopsis, with annuals mixed in for color and fullness. The gastronomic goal is met with an herb garden. Raised beds house the vegetable garden, where vertical structures were used to grow 665 pounds of produce in 320 square feet of space last year. Visitors can learn about food preservation methods to pickle, freeze, can, dehydrate, infuse and ferment healthy, tasty food, with plenty to share with family or friends.

  • Growing Good Gardeners information station: “Grow Now, Eat Later!” – Washington County Master Gardener and expert canner Mary Loftus will share tips on canning and food preservation.

“Our Rich Polyculture Garden” is the creation of Washington County Master Gardeners Randy and Pam Butler. Their cottage-style garden offers an urban oasis for people and creatures. Perennials provide the backbone while annuals bring a burst of color. Perennials and annuals don’t grow marching in straight rows but woven together in a symphony of colors. The Butlers have chosen diverse native shrubs and plants that appeal to birds and insects. They have learned to use a mix of heights, shapes, colors and blooming times that thrive together successfully, providing a garden they both enjoy and share.

  • Growing Good Gardeners information station: “Landscaping with Native Plants” – Wild Ones Ozarks Chapter will offer ideas for a sustainable, low-maintenance yard or garden that will also support birds, butterflies, bees and other wildlife.


“Ricardo and Nathan’s Garden” began as an effort to do away with a huge lawn, unhealthy shrubs and disconnected sections of yard. As an homage to the history of the house, elements of existing landscaping were recycled to create new flower beds. A variety of plants and trees are used in a naturalistic style to fill in empty spaces for beauty and privacy. Grasses and shrubs create a connection among the trees while hardy perennials and indigenous plants provide year-round interest. The new environment invites exploration while colors and shapes add vitality that makes the garden full of joy.

  • Growing Good Gardeners information station: “Beneficial Insects” – The University of Arkansas Entomology Club will introduce you to some “good bugs” and explain why you want them in your gardens.

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Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

Note: Garden Gate Tour ticket holders receive free admission to BGO on the day of the tour.

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks features 12 themed gardens. “We want these gardens not only to reflect the unique character of the Ozarks and its people but to challenge visitors to see their own gardens with new eyes,” said Gerald Klingaman, former operations director for BGO.

Two Growing Good Gardeners information stations will be offered at BGO:

  • “Butterflies and Pollinators” – Explore the Butterfly House with Kitty Sanders, BGO Butterfly House mentor and Washington County Master Gardener.

  • “Ask a Master” – Washington County Master Gardeners will field gardening questions, show how to get a soil test free of charge through the Washington County Extension Service and explain the steps to becoming a Master Gardener.


Proceeds from the Garden Gate Tour support public education programs.

For more information, email


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