Green Neighbors program hosts virtual natural garden tour

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Those with an interest in ditching harmful fertilizers can virtually tour 13 gardens found in Clark County through the Green Neighbors program’s 2021 Natural Garden Tour.

The gardens featured don’t utilize chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers commonly found on store shelves.

Shannon Hunter, the environmental outreach coordinator for AmeriCorps, said natural gardening emphasizes human development to focus on supporting healthy environments, like Clark County’s wetlands.

The tours started 16 years ago with the intention of sharing techniques to prevent chemicals from entering the county’s waterways, Hunter said.

“Over the years, the tour has changed in various ways, but the key message has stayed the same, which is that we want to encourage residents to move away from chemicals and know that it can be done without too much sacrifice,” she said.

Program coordinators decided to stick with the virtual format this year to maintain safety guidelines, said Tina Kendall, Green Neighbors program coordinator.

To qualify, the 13 gardens spread across the county had to find ways to avoid synthetic chemicals, conserve water usage, implement stormwater management and construct areas friendly for pollinators.

This year’s gardens include Lisa Bayautet’s “Chateau Vue De Haute Gardens,” Diane Katz’ “Di’s Citi Chicks” and Jane Wolfe’s “Eye Candy Lane.”

The Natural Garden Tour virtual story map includes video interviews, photos, written descriptions linked to resources and an opportunity to take a natural gardening pledge.

“I think that it’s much more accessible for people,” Hunter said. “Folks can look at it at their own pace and on their own time, rather than having the tour on one day of the year.”

In past years, it was extremely difficult for attendees to tour all of the gardens in one day, she said.

Hunter said she enjoyed seeing participants reuse materials, like plastic containers and plywood, to create recycled art for their gardens.

“One of the gardeners created a bunch of fairy houses that were incorporated into her garden,” Shannon said. “Those were all created out of items that would have gone to the landfill.”

Natural gardening promotes the health of wildlife, humans, pets and the watershed, Hunter said.

When people use toxic chemicals in their gardens, like fertilizer, it runs off into the streets, storm drains and directly into local waterways, she said. That degrades water quality and can negatively impact children and pets playing in their yards.

Hunter added some pesticides are hazardous to bees.

The gardens vary in size. Some are large with a few acres and some include small planter boxes.

“There’s room for natural gardens, no matter what size of land you have,” Hunter said.

The tour went live on the Clark County Green Neighbor website on July 18 and will remain available to view all year at clark
greenneighbors.org/gardentour.

The tour kicked off with a virtual panel of gardeners whose gardens were included in the show on July 19. About 40 attendees were able to ask questions of the panelists.

YouTube videos from last year’s tour have received over 12,000 views total over the span of 14 videos, Hunter said.

Kendall said the program plans to host an in-person garden tour next year.

The Clark County Green Neighbors program aims to educate residents about sustainable resources and reducing waste production. It is a part of the Clark County Public Health department.

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