Tour Yampa Valley's gardens

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Six splendid Steamboat and Yampa Valley gardens will be yours to explore during the 11th Annual High Country Garden Tour on July 15.

The tour begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Strings in the Mountains Tent with a garden market hosted by local businesses and artists displaying their garden wares and crafts.

As you stroll through the market, enjoy complimentary coffee and baked goods while finding that one item you can't live without.

At 9 a.m., Dr. Curtis Swift, Colorado State University professor, plant pathologist, and master gardener professor, will speak on the topic of "Healthy Plants Make Happy Gardeners."

Afterwards, begin the tour of the beautiful, diverse gardens.

Choose to visit them on your own or take advantage of bus transportation available for an additional cost.

Beginning downtown, two owner-designed and maintained gardens showcase a broad selection of plants and distinct gardening styles.

The first is an organic garden that includes a wide variety of interesting and unique plants as well as a small stream.

A vegetable garden, located behind one of the outbuildings, reveals a clever way of planting tomatoes.

The second garden showcases an incredible raised English cottage rock garden brimming with colorful perennials.

Herb gardens are nestled in kitchen window-boxes, making it convenient to pick fresh herbs while preparing meals.

The third garden, located on Meadowbrook Circle, was transformed from a barren construction site to the peaceful, lovely forest-like setting that provides a true visual feast -- not only of its flowers but of the Flat Tops in the distance.

Catamount Lake is the location of the fourth garden. Spectacular views and a challenging gardening location have motivated the owners to select drought-tolerant plants and trees.

This once barren hayfield is now filled with color and drama provided by rock pathways, a newly installed water feature, hanging baskets, and pottery filled with annuals.

The garden in Grouse Creek Park, the fifth, hosts displays of a wide variety of native flowers and grasses with judiciously placed rocks and boulders. Blooming perennials and a flowing stream and pond complement the interesting sculptures placed throughout this most enjoyable garden.

The sixth garden, located south of Grouse Creek Park, is the owners' paradise. Their garden is their passion, and it is evident in their plant selection and their nurturing care of the grounds. Wander this secluded property and enjoy nature at its height of perfection.

Once again, the gardens of Steamboat and the Yampa Valley make us marvel at the beauty that surrounds us and the talents of the local gardeners.

Pat Anthony is a Routt County master gardener and Debbie Ratliffe is a member of the Strings in the Mountains Guild.

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