Dart Helgeson and her husband moved to Kennewick from Florida about five years ago.
“We moved to a house that was a blank (slate). There was nothing in the backyard, not even a fence,” Helgeson said.
That quickly changed.
The home now features an impressive garden, filled with everything from organic fruits and vegetables to herbs and flowering perennials. It also has a pond and waterfall.
The space is tranquil and beautiful, and the garden bounty is put to use.
“I like to be able to provide my own fresh foods. I like to be able to take it from my dirt to my dinner plate in about 20 steps,” Helgeson said.
Community members will be able to see Helgeson’s garden firsthand during the Academy of Children’s Theatre’s Garden Arts Tour on June 20.
The event includes self-guided tours of five private local gardens, plus the Washington State University Extension Master Gardener demonstration garden at Highland Grange Park in Kennewick. Tours are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Master Gardener group also is holding a free Summer Solstice celebration from 3 to 7 p.m. at the park, with everything from gardening advice to food and activities for kids. ACT performers will be showcased during the event.
The Garden Arts Tour is capped off by a Garden Arts Party from 5 to 7 p.m. at a private home on the river in Kennewick. It will include performances and demonstrations by several artists, including ACT performers, plus wine and hors d’oeuvres.
The event “is a way of celebrating art in the Tri-Cities,” said Adele Connors, ACT’s director of development.
It’s one of ACT’s premier fundraisers. Connors said it’s special because it shows the diversity of gardening in the Tri -Cities and gives community members the chance to check out gardens that aren’t normally open to them.
Along with Helgeson’s organic sanctuary, the other private home gardens on the tour include a classic English-style garden; a “paradise retreat” with water features and ponds and a vegetable and herb sanctuary; a “pastoral party haven” with features including a central fire pit and waterfall and pond; and a “gully garden” with statuary, art and a floral gazebo.
Helgeson looks forward to welcoming people to her garden and hopes to inspire others, she said.
Sometimes people are intimidated by the idea of growing their own fruits, vegetables, herbs or flowers, but “you don’t have to start with a 7,000-square-foot garden. You can start with a 1-square-foot garden,” she said. “If all of us did it, or even half of us did it, the world would be a much better place.”
Tickets cost $20 for the tour, or $50 for the tour and garden party. They’re available at www.academyofchildrenstheatre.org or in-person at Academy of Children’s Theatre, McCurley Integrity Honda and Beaver Bark, all in Richland, and Heritage Nursery in Kennewick.