Master Gardener Garden Tour funds community education program

ice plant with pink flowers
Ice plant can be used as a low water ground cover in the garden and produces beautiful flowers of pink, purple or yellow. Photo by Jenn Fisher, Cooperative Extension.

It’s time again for the Master Gardener program’s annual fundraiser, the Master Gardener Garden Tour hosted by Rail City Garden Center in Sparks, Nev. The self-guided garden tour, held Aug. 18-19 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., is a great way to learn what grows well in northern Nevada and get creative ideas for your own garden.

Washoe County Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners are including their new demonstration garden in this year’s tour. It is located at the Washoe County Cooperative Extension office. Eight garden beds, made of recycled wood and cement, line the east side of the building. Each bed has been planted to demonstrate different growing options in the high desert area, from ornamental to edible plants.

One of the garden beds at the demonstration garden is filled with cold-hardy succulents. Did you know there are many succulents that grow well in northern Nevada?

Sedum takesimense with yellow flowers
Succulents propagate easily from cuttings, so don’t forget to share your favorite varieties with friends like this Sedum takesimense. Photo by Jenn Fisher, Cooperative Extension.

Some of the best succulents for our region come from the genus Sedum, commonly called stonecrop. When you visit the garden, you will see over seven varieties of sedum, including Sedum ‘Red Canyon’, Sedum takesimense, Sedum ‘Touchdown Flame’, Sedum sieboldii and Sedum divergens. Sedum varieties range from purple and red, such as Sedum ‘Red Canyon’ and ‘Touchdown Flame’, to bright green, such as Sedum takesimense.

Other garden beds include a pollinator bed with many plants grown from seed, an herb garden and a deep bed with two ultra-dwarf fruit trees. Remember, it’s a demonstration garden, so you can see what worked and what didn’t. Master Gardener volunteers and staff will be available to talk about the garden beds, from installation and irrigation to planting, harvesting and maintenance.

Volunteers all over Reno and Sparks have opened their homes to share their gardening adventures with you in order to raise much needed funds for the Washoe County Master Gardener program. One garden was adopted to donate fresh produce to the dining hall at Saint Vincent’s, which provides 500 nutritional meals, six days a week to those in need. You will see how a vacant plot of land was developed into a garden to feed many.

Another garden has just under 100 varieties of tomatoes, from micro-dwarf to regular. A visit to this garden gives you a chance to see how well different tomato varieties grow and produce fruit in our climate. You will also get the chance to learn tips and tricks of tomato gardening from a local enthusiast.

Visiting local gardens by attending the garden tour will give you much needed inspiration for your own landscape. Maybe you’ve always wanted to grow your own food, but don’t know where to start, or maybe you are bored with your traditional landscape and want to get creative.

No matter where you are in your landscape process, local homeowners and gardeners can tell you what they did, what they learned and offer ideas for your own garden.

Jenn Fisher is the commercial horticulture program coordinator with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Purchase tickets for the Master Gardener Garden Tour at Gardening questions? Contact a Master Gardener at 775-336-0265 or