Croft: Mariposa garden tour highlights low-water beauty

May 27, 2013 

— When the topic of gardening comes up, perhaps many of us envision lush, overgrown spaces requiring lots of upkeep and tons of water. But the Master Gardeners in Mariposa work diligently to create lovely gardens and yards without the need for so much H2O.

This year's annual Spring Garden Tour features five home gardens and one demonstration garden.

At 8:30 a.m. June 1, the tour begins at the native plant demonstration garden in downtown Mariposa along Mariposa Creek. A brief ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. The first 150 people in attendance will receive a free native plant.

Home gardens are open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tour maps will be provided to guide visitors.

Judy Hardaway and Rosemarie Smallcombe are co-chairwomen of the tour.

"Every garden is different, from the gentleman who grows miniature trees in pots on his patio, to the woman whose garden requires almost no water," Hardaway said.

With the exception of a few rose bushes, she experiments with plants to determine how little water each requires. She only maintains plants that are able to survive without water.

"Yet her garden is beautiful," Hardaway said.

The demonstration garden illustrates how gardeners and homeowners can use native plants creatively and tastefully in their landscaping. While attracting birds and butterflies, water usage and fire risk are decreased.

Master Gardeners will be in attendance at each garden on the tour to supply information and answer questions.

Tickets may be bought in advance for $12 at the following places in Mariposa: farm adviser's office, 5009 Fairgrounds Road; Trent's Beauty Salon, 4993 Williams Road; Chocolate Soup, 5009 State Highway 140; or from any Mariposa Master Gardener.

At the entrance tickets are $15. Call (209) 966-2417 for details.

The Master Gardener Program is part of University of California's Agriculture and Natural Resources Department.

Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. She can be reached at

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