Susan Lamb – local writer and naturalist – posted this in Home and Garden in the Arizona Daily Sun on 4/17/2010 —
Despite late-lingering snowbanks and being batted about by spring winds like birdies on a badminton court, Flagstaff gardeners are suddenly out in force.
Eternal optimists, they are already swarming local nurseries wearing sunhats and ferrying pots of native perennials, vegetable starts and new gardening gloves to the registers. Rakes have been fetched from garages, along with pruning shears and trowels.
Whether you are among these early enthusiasts — or you need to wait a few weeks because of you particular location — the Arizona Native Plant Society (ASNPS) invites you to enter its annual Flagstaff Garden Competition. The deadline for entering the contest is Aug. 4.
Judges will schedule a one-hour visit to each garden during the weekend of August 14 and 15. There will be an awards “Extravaganza” on August 25 and a public tour of all the gardens on Sunday, August 29.
Simply entering the Flagstaff Garden Competition can liberate the imagination and fire up a lot of energy. Then the reality of showing your garden to strangers sinks in, determination surfaces and creativity flows.
Long-neglected “issues” such as a pile of old plastic pots or the overdue need to prune a dogwood are suddenly resolved. What at first seems like a lark undertaken because a neighbor says you really should becomes a closer observation of the weather, a more attentive nurturing of plants and a greater clarity about what you know and don’t yet know. If you remain unconvinced about entering, Dorothy Lamm’s lovely exhibit on the Garden Competition — on display at the main Flagstaff Public Library through April — may convince you to take an active part in this delightful annual event.
This year, the Flagstaff Garden Competition’s two categories are Native Plant Gardens and Edible Landscapes (vegetables, herbs and other edibles). Of course, the former should have a good majority of plants native to Northern Arizona. Native plant gardens should also be pollinator friendly, with lots of flowers appropriately placed in sun and shade and absolutely no use of pesticides.
Judges will also consider color and form, hardscaping and paths, and special features such as ponds and sculptures. Edible landscapes should produce food for many weeks and employ water conservation strategies such as runoff catchments and mulch. In fact, judges will look for water-wise techniques in all gardens as well as designs that are appropriate to their sites’ exposure to sun, shade and wind.
The Flagstaff Garden Awards Extravaganza will take place in Rees Hall at the Federated Church on Wednesday, August 25. After a potluck and a slide show of all the gardens, winners will receive gift certificates from local nurseries, and there will be a raffle of one of the latest books on native plants as well as memberships in plant-related organizations.
The grand finale is a tour of all the gardens on August 29. Donations for the tour will be gratefully accepted. The tour is a feast for the eye but also the heart. Gardeners can see how others succeed in circumstances similar to their own, from the banana belt below Mount Elden to the frost-prone fields of Baderville. With such a variety of mini-climates in Flagstaff and its environs, we often get the best ideas about successful gardening from those who’ve succeeded in locations similar to our own.
But that Sunday is also a day of stories — of a helpful neighbor, of a source of cuttings or flagstone, of chronic frost or a sudden onslaught of grasshoppers and the inspired strategies to cope with them. Some gardeners also speak joyfully of the healing and happiness they have found in their gardens.
This year, the Flagstaff garden competition is sponsored by the Arboretum at Flagstaff, the Arizona Native Plant Society,the Ecological Restoration Institute at Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff Native Plant and Seed, and Warner’s Nursery.
Again, the deadline for entries is Wednesday, August 4. To enter, e-mail Jessa Fisher at firstname.lastname@example.org (preferred) or give her a call at (928) 814-2644.
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