The day started with going by a burned out Subaru WRX on the Turner Turnpike on the way to see the Tulsa Master Gardener Tour. The Tulsa County OSU Extension Building was locked, but a diagram of the garden locations had been taped to the glass doors. Eventually all 5 gardens were visited. The night ended with a bike race in the Brady District, the Tulsa Drillers winning their baseball game and fireworks at the ballpark. Read about the gardens and races.

10 June 2013 Blog

Becky Emerson Carlberg

The day started in a rush.  Pack a few things for the overnight stay in Tulsa, stow away the small package of cookies for son, grab a hat, sunglasses and sunblock plus some snacks, and feed the cats and birds.  It was warm and humid morning, accompanied by a good breeze.

Halfway up the Turner Turnpike the northbound traffic came to a grinding halt.  We waited well over 20 minutes before cars and trucks began creeping along….past a totally burned out Subaru WRX.  The passengers were standing some distance away from the smoldering car, looks of disbelief in their eyes.  Not good.

We reached our destination:  The Tulsa County OSU Extension Center.  One car was parked in the lot.  Was this the right weekend for the Tulsa Master Gardener Tour?  Walking past some lovely plants of the Demo garden, I climbed the steps to find the building locked and the front and back of two garden tour pamphlets taped to the glass doors.  All five gardens were listed, along with illustrated directions to each one.  This was a first.  Usually a table is set up outside with Master Gardeners selling pamphlet/tickets to the gardens and the building is open.

Trying to decide which garden to visit, the phone rang with a concerned relative inquiring about the health of our son.  They had just read about the Friday night Tulsa Tough bike races, and some major wrecks had happened and two people were hospitalized in critical condition.  We had not been able to rouse our son on his cell phone all morning.  Panic set in.  In route to the Vintage garden, he called.  He was fine, had done well in Friday night’s race, was going out for a Barbeque lunch and was looking forward to tonight’s race.  Whew.

The Vintage Garden, where we bought our pamphlets, featured a rabbit barrier—fence to ground—and loads of veggie plants at the south side of the house.  Threaded throughout the plant bases were small hoses with emitters overlaid with a thick layer of pine bark mulch.  The entire garden was a border garden, with rock, stepping stones and gravel winding around the borders of the yard.  Mature red buds spread out their branches at various places. 

We then traveled to the Food Court Garden.  The front oval garden was planted with elephant garlic and veggies.  You entered the back yard garden through a grape arbor with small crystals suspended from strips of wood above your head.  Substantial support cages housed tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and other edibles.  The gardeners like to use Mel’s Mix.  Mel Bartholomew is the author of Square-Foot Gardening and the mix is a blend of equal parts peat moss, vermiculite and different composts.  In one corner was tucked a chicken coop with several Buff Orpingtons, plump golden orange chickens with red combs.  Tulsa allows homeowners to have up to 6 chickens.

The Family Garden had a Photinia hedge at the back, small recirculating waterfall with goldfish pond in the backyard corner, and a pleasing stand of Milk and Wine Lilies in all their deep pink and white striped trumpet flower glory. 

The owners of the Welcoming Garden label their garden “Planned Random”.  While entering the backyard, you quietly walked past the Fairy garden, complete with a little house, inhabitants and plants.  Hollies, peonies, bee balm, variegated Solomon Seal and Penstemon (Beard Tongue) are highlights of the garden.  In the center is a giant River Birch, casting a cool shadow over the middle of the back yard.  Colorful patio furniture and statuary bought interest to other areas.

The last garden, Cottage Garden, was the one furthest away in a neighborhood established in hilly woods with sprawling large, well-maintained homes.  An owl or hawk nest was high above in one of the oaks.  A very well cared-for bright green fescue lawn covered the land under all the trees.

We did it.  We completed the garden tour, located our son at his nighttime bike race, and watched as he completed his second race.  After the Pro-Cat 1 races finished, fireworks went off from inside the baseball park.  The Tulsa Drillers beat the Springfield Cardinals 3-0.  A cool finish for both a ballgame and day of bike racing in the Brady District in Tulsa.

Sunday was the last day of the St. Francis Tulsa Tough bicycle races, and this leg was held along the Arkansas River.  Vendors were set up along the bike and walking paths, our son was riding again with his Sound Pony team as well as dozens of other competitors, and the sun was hot.  Crybaby Hill was beyond full with spectators crammed in cheek and jowl at the top.  I am happy to report our son finished all three criterium races, the first time ever.  It takes gumption to complete circular repetitive hour or more long races accompanied by the endless sounds of clanging bicycles as their riders jostle for positions, stadium horns blaring, people yelling and the endless banter of the announcers interspersed with loud music.

Touring gardens is much more peaceful and quiet.