For over 20 years, the Inland Empire Gardeners has been celebrating gardeners and their gardens. Each month except December, it brings exciting speakers from all over the country to talk about all things gardening.
In May each year the community is treated to garden vendors from all over the Northwest at Garden Expo at Spokane Community College. In June, the Inland Empire Gardeners pulls together its annual Spokane in Bloom garden tour that welcomes the public into some of the best gardens in the area.
With June upon us, it is ready to launch the 20th anniversary season of the Garden of the Month contest that each month through September celebrates a local garden and its gardeners.
Over the past two decades the award has gone to all kinds of gardens: lots of small backyard oasis gardens, a grotto carved out of a basalt cliff, gardens on the banks of several of our local rivers and streams, patio gardens, city gardens and gardens in the woods. You name it and the contest has probably awarded the prize to it.
“We look for gardens with heart,” says ViAnn Meyers, longtime president of the organization. “The gardens we choose aren’t always the most pristine or immaculately designed, but they always have heart.”
Steve Scheller and Dennis Dillin were the first winners of the Garden of the Month prize in 1998. Their garden on the east end of the South Hill featured an amazing conifer collection set in a large backyard. They could tell you all the scientific information on their plants as well as the personal story behind each plant and why it appealed to them. It got them noticed enough to get them onto other garden tours.
“It was an appreciated recognition of our work and our garden design,” Dillin said. “We met a lot of fascinating people, and still 20 years later we run into people who remember being in our yard when it was on its many tours.”
Got a garden you’d like to enter in the contest? It’s easy. Go to the group’s website (www.tieg.org) and download an application. Fill it out and attach a couple of pictures and then drop it off at the organization’s box at the Sprague branch of Northwest Seed and Pet, 2422 E. Sprague Ave. Entries are due by the 15th of June, July, August or September. The Garden of the Month selection team will then make an appointment to visit your garden. Gardens are judged on upkeep, use of color and design, originality, embellishments and, of course, heart and the back story of the garden. Awards are presented at the Inland Empire Gardeners’ monthly meetings.
Each Garden of the Month winner receives a personalized steppingstone for their garden, an annual membership, a $50 gift certificate from Northwest Seed and Pet, a book on horticulture or gardening and feature story in this column in The Spokesman-Review.
So get cracking. June 15 is a week from tomorrow to enter this year’s first contest.
Pat Munts has gardened in the Spokane Valley for over 40 years. She is co-author of Northwest Gardener’s Handbook with Susan Mulvihill. She can be reached at email@example.com.