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Tours to fit an array of tastes

Spring is the season for going on tour. No need to drain your nest egg and hire a travel agent. Home and garden tours offer a ticket to attractions close to home — private and beautiful backyards, landscapes and homes.

The 24th Annual AAUW Healdsburg Homes Tour: Six different homes are featured, from vintage to contemporary. Proceeds benefit local public schools and scholarships for women. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 4. $40. Tour begins at the Healdsburg Museum, 221 Matheson St. where same-day tickets will also be available. Healdsburgaauw.com.

Sea Ranch & Gualala Architectural Tour: This annual event on May 10, put on by the Soroptimists of the Mendocino-Sonoma Coast, showcases new and newly-redesigned homes. This year's highlight is The Pelican House, designed by Malcolm Davis Architecture to fit between two existing houses while maintaining the privacy of the owners and their neighbors. This energy- and environmentally-smart home is one of the first LEED certified dwellings at The Sea Ranch. The 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. tour is followed by a wine tasting and auction at the Gualala Arts Center featuring 23 local wineries. Cost for the event is $65 or $60 if purchased by May 10. To purchase call 800-838-3006 (event 534733) or brownpapertickets.com/events/534733.

Mendocino Coast Garden Tour: A self-guided tour through private gardens. The event includes a garden shop, plant sale and luncheon at Stanford Inn's Ravens Restaurant. Cost is $40 for the tour or $60 for the tour and luncheon. A wine and hors d'oeuvres reception will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Le Mirabeau. 937-5818 ext. 10 or 800-653-3328 ext. 10. Mendocinoartcenter.org.

Sonoma County Medical Association Alliance and Foundation Garden Tour: This tour, which visits a different part of the county each year, focuses on six gardens in Healdsburg, including a diverse drought-tolerant landscape divided into small rooms, a rose garden and a Craftsman home with a shady yard presided over by a heritage walnut tree. Live music, artwork by Winnifred Werner, Master Gardeners available for expert information. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 16 and 17. $45. Tickets can be purchased at scmaa.org or by phone at 578-4537. For information email alliance@scmaa.org.

The Garden Conservancy's Open Days in Mendocino: Three private gardens in Boonville, Fort Bragg and Mendocino will be open to visitors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 10 as part of the conservancy's national program. Highlights include English-inspired garden rooms, garden art, towering redwoods, a custom-designed greenhouse, extensive rhododendron and conifer collections, waterfalls and an artistic stone bridge. $5 per garden. Children under 13 are free. Visitors may visit one or all of the gardens with tickets sold at each site: Stoney Bottom Gardens, 13400 Anderson Valley Way, Boonville; The Garden at Road's End, 31100 Country Road, Fort Bragg, or the Gardens at Harmony Woods, 44380 Gordon Lane, Mendocino. For information visit gardenconservancy.org or call 888-842-2442.

Eco-Friendly Garden Tour: A self-guided tour of private gardens that incorporate eco-sensitive practices, including graywater and rainwater catchment systems, food forests, permeable surfaces, native gardens and more. A professional landscaper, designer or the homeowner will be at each site to answer questions. Free. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 17. Registration is required. savingwaterpartnership.org.

Sonoma County Master Gardener's Bloomin' Backyards: Five gardens in the Sonoma Valley tended by Sonoma County Master Gardeners can be visited. Expert advice, demonstrations on growing low-water-use vegetables, information about drip irrigation, composting, soil enrichment, mulching and more. 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 8. The event includes a Crafts Market and plant sale. $35 in advance or $40 the day of the event. Tickets may be purchased online at sonomamastergardeners.org, at Readers' Books in Sonoma or any Copperfield's Books. Sonomacountymastergardeners.org or 565-2608.

Western Sonoma County Home & Garden Tour: This year's tour will feature seven gardens with two stops also offering entr? into homes. Proceeds benefit Food for Thought AIDS food bank. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 8. Tickets are $45. Pre-ordered box lunches from Cottonwood Catering will be available for $12.50. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 8. 887-1647 or visit fftfoodbank.org.

Resorts in Bloom: You don't have to book a room to visit the exceptional gardens of ten different Russian River area inns and resorts, including the Japanese garden at Osmosis spa, Applewood Inn, Boon Hotel + Spa and the Inn at Occidental. June 14 and 15. $30 for a day pass or $50 for the tour and a VIP wine tasting on Saturday. A VIP reception on June 13 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. is $50 and includes a day pass for Saturday or Sunday. Resortsinbloom.com.


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