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Oregon State Extension's High Desert Garden Tour is going through Jefferson County this year.

OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY LOGO  - The High Desert Garden Tour is happening in Jefferson County this year. With seeds planted and a full summer of sunshine ahead, Oregon State University Extension Service has announced the date of the 26th annual High Desert Garden Tour.

The tour is a self-guided tour, this year through the Madras and Culver areas, where participants get the opportunity to visit six area gardens and ask gardening questions of OSU Master Gardener volunteers. A ticket book is required to participate in the tour, which can be purchased, beginning July 6 at OSU extension offices throughout Central Oregon for $10. Those ages 16 and under are free.

Ticket books contain a map, showing each one of this year's gardens, as well as driving directions, physical descriptions of the destinations and a wristband. The books can be purchased right up until the event from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. July 20.

Two of the gardens on this year's tour belong to OSU Extension master gardeners while several others were submitted by word of mouth recommendations as well as people volunteering their gardens. In the fall, with recommendations the program selects the gardens for the next year's tour, according to Amy Jo Detwiler, horticulture faculty for OSU Extension, based in Redmond.

Those wishing to volunteer their garden for another tour or recommend someone are able to put the information on the bottom of the comment cards available during the garden tour.

At each location on the tour, generally the garden owner is present as people view their garden, along with two Master Gardener volunteers at each site. Some sites will also have interactive educational components, such as informational booths.

"It's intended to be educational, as well as inspirational," said Detwiler.

This year, especially because some of the stops on the tour are rather spread out, Detwiler said they have created a van pool if participants don't want to drive themselves. Pickup locations will be determined based on area interest, and participants will be notified where pickup locations are closer to the event. Space for the van pool is limited and costs $10 per person. To reserve a seat, call 541-548-6088 by July 15.

Detwiler recommends that those participating in the tour begin as close to 9 a.m. as possible because it usually takes garden-lookers all day to see all six locations. She said especially this year, with gardens being more spread out than last year, participants should give themselves plenty of time.

For example she said, if you start at noon, it is unlikely you will complete the tour. She also said for participants to plan to be out in the sun, hopefully, for the day, and encouraged them to pack sunscreen and perhaps sport their garden hats, noting that there will be water available at each location.

Detwiler said the tour moves each year, since the gardening and horticulture program is a regional program for several different counties; last year it was in Bend where about 750 people went through the tour.

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