MOUNT VERNON — A visitor to the Washington State Discovery Garden last week would have found it a hive of activity.

In one spot, a pond was being renovated for the first time in more than a decade; one of the volunteers’ discoveries was a salamander, which was relocated to a new home nearby. In another spot, the garden’s roses, now in new raised beds, were being carefully tended to.

“There’s so much going on,” Master Gardener Dave Buchan said. “But that’s the beauty of it.”

Volunteers from the Skagit County Master Gardeners work on the garden once a week, but there was an extra buzz of activity because of the event coming up: the Ask a Master Gardener day, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at the garden located at 16650 Memorial Highway.

On that day, visitors can tour the Discovery Garden, which holds 27 discrete gardens including a zen garden, herb garden and many others; they can purchase plants that have been grown on-site; and they can seek Master Gardeners’ advice on everything from growing artichokes to getting rid of unwanted insect pests.

This year’s event, Buchan said, will include several features popular with visitors, including the opportunity for substantial one-on-one time with Master Gardeners.

But there also are some changes. There are more paths throughout the gardens, he said, that are more handicap-accessible. The heather garden has been re-established, and several other areas have been spruced up significantly.

What hasn’t changed, he said, is the focus on plants that thrive locally.

“We’re a living garden for what grows well in Skagit County,” he said.

This year’s event will also feature representatives from the Western Washington Fruit Research Foundation and the Salal Chapter of the Washington State Native Plant Society, as well as a noxious weed expert from the Washington State University extension.

Visitors are encouraged to bring leaves or branches from poorly performing plants for help with diagnosis; they may also bring dull gardening shears for sharpening.

Reporter Trevor Pyle: 360-416-2156,, Twitter: @Sports_SVH,

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