Natrona County's 42nd annual Garden Gait is almost here. This year the tour will feature seven local gardens, all spectacularly different.

The tour takes place on Friday, July 14th, from 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturday, the 15th, from 9 a.m. to noon. Tickets are available now.

The event is hosted by the local Master Gardeners as a fundraiser. It's one that many look forward to every year. It's a chance for people to peek into people's yards and get some ideas for their own.

I talked to Greg and Brenda, the masters in charge of orchestrating this beloved event. You can listen to the full convo here.

They tell me that the Master Gardeners do a variety of things—a spring conference, the farmers market, and a plant sale. Everybody gravitates to their favorite thing, and for Greg and Brenda, it's the Garden Gait.

Each year is a little different. Last year's theme was "A Garden is Life." This year they're focusing on "Garden Stories."

As the pair visited with gardeners and homeowners, they realized that each had amazing stories about their spaces; and for some, stories with many chapters.

One of the gardens on the tour was a homestead in the 1800s and has continued as a ranch since then.

Another garden has been underway for 35 years.

"Every year is a little different. It's a lot of work on local gardeners to spruce their yards up for an event like this. It's a big deal, and it's exciting" says Greg.

They're focusing on the West side of Casper this time around. One thing they've learned from years passed is that people really like it when the gardens are within walking distance, or at least a short drive between clusters.

They note that the diversity among gardens makes it really fun. Some are heavily manicured, while some are a little wild—like an English garden, says Brenda.

They have a garden on the list this year that prizes sustainability. It's not the biggest garden on the tour, but it has chickens, vegetable beds, and the owners are in the process of building a greenhouse.

Some of the gardens have extremely elaborate hardscape (walkways, furniture, stepping stones, water wheels...) I ask about garden gnomes... they tell me they haven't spotted any, but they got an early sneek peek, so maybe they just weren't out yet. Alas.

Brenda says, "Our hope is that there's a yard that really speaks to every participant that comes. It might not be the same one for any of us, but there's a yard that I can look at and say, That's amazing, what can I take from here and do in my own landscaping?"

We talk about the birds and the bees. Literally. Not—you know...

The fauna is part of the garden, too. Pretty butterflies flitting by while you're out having a glass of lemonade; but it can certainly create challenges, too. Deer and raccoons, for instance, are things gardeners have to work around. That's all part of the story.

And speaking of living things, the soil is filled with billions of microscopic living organisms. Greg has a twinkle in his eye when he talks about the dirt. Ask him about it sometime and maybe he can point you in the right direction for your own.

He says they have people that come from all over Wyoming and even out-of-state. Many have mentioned how surprised they are that such beautiful flowers and vegetables grow in Casper's harsh environment.

Our growing zone is anywhere from 4 to 5; it's an agricultural decision based on yearly temps, and that temperature range goes all the way down to 30 below zero."

This spring saw 42 below.

"It's amazing how many plants have survived. It took them a while to come back" says Brenda.

It was a long, long snowy winter indeed. Trees and shrubs have suffered, but the two say we're still in for a real treat. Many plants survived in spite of the bitter cold.

Throughout the year, as you address your own concerns in the garden or yard, the Master Gardeners are available to assist or help with gardening techniques for your success. Members are well-trained, volunteer in the office on a regular basis, and are eager to help.

For persons interested in becoming a Master Gardener, classes are offered over the winter with multiple class times available.

To add your name to the list of trainees contact the University of Wyoming Natrona County Extension Office at (307) 235-9400.

They recruit through August, hold an orientation and interview event in September, and classes begin in October.

Native plants that do well in Wyoming gardens

Consider the Indian Paintbrush. This and other regional wild-flowers. For one thing, they don’t require fertilizers and require fewer pesticides since they have natural resilience to garden pests in the region, in turn promoting beneficial populations like butterflies and hummingbirds. They also require less water because they’ve adapted to rely on rainwater.

Casper Home and Garden Show 2023

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