This outhouse has been repurposed as a garden shed in the backyard of Vernee Sand.
This outhouse has been repurposed as a garden shed in the backyard of Vernee Sand.
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The snow has melted and with it come thoughts of warmer temperatures, green grass, and nurturing of gardens. Not everyone has a green thumb and grows picture-perfect gardens, but there are many talented gardeners in the area. During the Second Annual Bluff Country Garden and Art Tour these spectacular gardens will be showcased.

"This area of Minnesota is so striking and it is so rewarding to get the feedback from visitors from elsewhere that they had no idea there was such beauty here," commented Mary Thompson, co-chair of the tour, along with Mary Zaffke.

This year, the tour will feature gardens along the eastern border of Houston county, beginning on Apple Blossom Drive north of La Crescent, then continuing into La Crescent, along the river through Brownsville, into Caledonia and then in and around Spring Grove.

The tour is self-guided and can be started anywhere, however, a reception will be held at the end of the day at the Bluff Country Artists Gallery in Spring Grove.

A variety of gardens will be showcased - from gardens in town to those in the country, those with perennials and those with annuals, hillside gardens and even some with water features.

The homeowners will be in their gardens to talk with visitors who have questions about their plants. Several Houston County Master Gardeners will also be at different locations to answer gardening questions as well. Some gardens will also have special guest artists displaying their works.

After touring the beautiful gardens, visitors are invited to attend a reception at the Bluff Country Artists Gallery on Main Street in Spring Grove, which is included in their ticket price. Beverages and hors d'oeuvres will be served and there will also be a silent auction.

The tour is Saturday, July 16, from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. with the reception to follow. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 the day of the tour. They are available for purchase at Bluff Country Artists Gallery in Spring Grove, Alpine Nursery in Houston, Bluff Country Family Resources in Hokah, and other locations may yet be added, so watch for details in the Bluff Country Reader in June. A detailed map is included with one's ticket to make finding the gardens easy.

"We are looking forward to this second annual garden tour which will showcase another set of lovely gardens in Houston County," added Thompson. "We are also gratified that the proceeds will go entirely to Bluff Country Family Resources which in turn helps needy families in our area."

All proceeds from the garden tour will go to Bluff Country Family Resources to help victims of domestic violence. They provide "non-judgmental crisis intervention and advocacy to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and homelessness" and are "a grassroots organization advocating for these causes and encouraging self-advocacy in program participants."

For more information, visit their website at www.bluffcountry.org