After being closed for almost a year and a half because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WSU Skagit County Master Gardeners Discovery Garden is open to the public.

The garden, which was started in 1994 and planted over the next two years, has grown into a showcase for Master Gardeners and as a robust resource for home gardeners.

Sections of the garden are devoted to plants such as herbs, roses and rhododendrons; themes such as a Japanese garden and children’s garden; and functional structures such as a pavilion greenhouse.

The garden has been closed to the public since March 2020. It opened to visitors last week.

Skagit County Master Gardener Dave Buchan, who is a past president of the chapter, said for several months Master Gardeners weren’t permitted to visit the garden to care for the plants.

He said there was work to be done when the gardeners returned.

“I had weeds as tall as me in the heather garden which is so disheartening,” he said. “But we’ve gone through that. Now we can be there and enjoy our time together and try to get the garden in beautiful shape.”

Buchan said members of the Master Gardeners have gotten the garden close to its prior condition.

“The garden isn’t 100%, it’s probably in the 90s. We’re picky about it,” he said.

The group is still operating under some safety measures, such as a limit on the number of people who can work at one time. The traditional potluck during workdays, a particular favorite, is on hold for now, too.

Despite having to restore the garden, and despite the ongoing limitations, Buchan said it’s been enjoyable to be back with his fellow gardeners.

“For a lot of gardeners, it’s the social interaction that makes it worthwhile,” he said. “For me, the fun of master gardening is the people you interact with, share stories with, talk about garden problems with.”

The garden, located at the WSU Northwest Washington Research and Extension Center in Mount Vernon, is open to visitors from dawn until dusk. Admission is free.

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

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