Camas, Washougal gardens in full bloom for tourists

Free, self-guided garden tour has stops countywide

If you go

WHAT: Green Neighbors Natural Garden Tour

WHEN: Sunday, July 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

COST: The free event involves self-guided tours.

MORE INFO: For an online tour map and guide, visit clarkgreenneighbors.org/green-living/natural-garden-tour.

Booklets are available at Hidden Gardens Nursery, 4345 N.W. 16th Ave., Camas.

Liz Pike (left) talks about her passion for gardening and farming with Master Gardeners Karen Plitt (center) and Peg Agar (right), on July 5. Tomatoes, squash and strawberries are among the produce grown in Pike's garden in Camas.

Janice Ferguson and George Gross enjoy living in their home along the Washougal River. Their garden will be included in the Clark County Green Neighbors Natural Gardens Tour on July 15.

Janice Ferguson and George Gross' front yard features Hostas, Astilbes and a Hardy Geranium.

Visitors to Shangri-La Farm, in Camas, can see free range chickens and roosters.

Hydrangeas are in full bloom at the Shangri-La Farm, in Camas. The two-acre property, owned by Neil Cahoon and Liz Pike, is part of the Clark County Green Neighbors Natural Gardens Tour on Sunday, July 15.

Janice Ferguson and her husband, George Gross, enjoy gardening and the opportunity to talk with other gardeners.

That explains why the couple is allowing visitors to tour their Washougal garden for the 11th year.

Their home, at 769 “K” St., is on the Clark County Green Neighbors Natural Garden Tour, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, July 15. The tour, free and self-guided, involves 12 properties throughout Clark County.

“It’s a long day but at the end of the day, we have some wonderful memories and new friends,” Ferguson said.

“Everybody has a different style (of garden on the tour),” she added. “Ours is casual.”

They usually mention the names of several Camas and Washougal restaurants to the people on the Natural Garden Tour, in case the visitors want to eat lunch or dinner while they are in the area.

Ferguson and Gross’ garden includes native and non-native plants that attract butterflies and more than three types of bees. The native plants include Douglas Fir, Big Leaf Maple, Alder and Oregon Ash trees, as well as currants, Elderberry and ferns.

Ferguson’s parents previously owned the home, built in the early 1960s, near the bank of the Washougal River. Ferguson and Gross have lived there since 1991, and they have seen more than 50 species of birds, including bald eagles, and many deer, raccoons, beavers and otters.

During the spring of 2017, when there was high water, they saw sea lions on their property.

Zucchini, basil, cucumbers, eggplant and watermelon are grown in containers on their deck where hummingbirds visit the fuchsia in the morning.

Ferguson and Gross assume that a squirrel, Stellar’s Jay or Scrub-Jay planted a sunflower seed that resulted in a bright bloom this summer.

“There are definitely surprises with gardening,” Ferguson said.

Several bonsai are also on their deck that overlooks a variety of plants in the backyard. There are Asters, Rose Campions and lamb’s ears, in addition to daylilies that grow among repurposed wagon wheel rims.

Hoops and deer netting keep the deer away from strawberries, kale, cabbage and chard, in the backyard, while Foxgloves populate the front yard, to the delight of hummingbirds and bees.

Farm in Fern Prairie produces eggs and honey

Shangri-La Farm, owned by Liz Pike and her husband, Neil Cahoon, 26300 N.E. Third St., Camas, is also part of the Natural Garden Tour, a showcase of earth-friendly gardening techniques.

They have a chicken and sheep pasture, bee barn and berry patch,as well as rose, rhododendron and vegetable gardens.

Visitors on the Natural Gardens Tour will park at Grove Field Airport, 632 N.E. 267th Ave., Camas, and walk a quarter mile trail to the farm. Handicapped accessible parking will be available at Shangri-La Farm.

Master Gardeners Karen Plitt and Peg Agar recently walked around the farm and gardens with Pike to prepare for the tour. Pike is a first-time host for the Natural Gardens Tour.

She said her goals include happy, healthy pollinators and chickens.

“We’ve created a haven for the natural environment,” Pike said, regarding the property she and Cahoon have lived on since 2010.

“It was a dive when we bought it,” she said. “The rhodie garden was covered underneath a blackberry growth. We started hacking and pulling and discovered the rhodie garden.”

Manure from the more than 180 chickens that live on the organic and sustainable farm is stockpiled and aged for a year. The decomposed manure is then added to raised beds where it provides nutrients for fruits and vegetable plants.

Pike and Cahoon recycle chicken feed bags by placing them under bark dust to serve as weed barriers.

Honey, eggs and produce are available to purchase from a stand in front of their farm.