My friend Kathy at Gardenbook
often blogs about her visits to Garden Conservancy open gardens in the Bay Area and Norcal coast. As I was sitting on my patio Sunday morning (isn't wi-fi a beautiful thing?) drooling over her latest escapade, it dawned on me that I haven't been to a local Open Day garden in many years. I used to visit gardens all the time-through The Garden Conservancy, garden clubs and various charities (with the exception of The Garden Conservancy most tours in CT take place in June). Since June is when I'm busiest in my own garden most of the garden club tours have fallen by the wayside. What a flimsy excuse. I'm always busy in my own garden.
Tossing obligation to the wind, I checked the Open Days schedule on the Garden Conservancy website
and discovered five gardens open within a 15 or 20 minute drive from my house on Sunday. What was I waiting for? I decided to hit three of them-one that was new to me, one I had been to before and one I thought I might have been to before. All of them opened at 10 AM. It was already 9:30 so I quickly changed into relatively clean clothes and headed out the door. A brief rummage through the kitchen catch all drawer produced a booklet of Open Days vouchers tucked into the directory from 2008. Hmmm...I need to get out more-at least to open gardens. Oh and maybe I should clean out that drawer. Put it on the list.
Garden number one was new to me. The property was lovely and contained some nice natural and hard scape features. The gardeners were excited and eager to share. But a large portion of the garden was fairly new and for the most part sparsely planted. Maybe in a couple of years as garden areas develop and plantings mature I'll have the opportunity to visit again.
Now garden number two...ooh la la!
From the lush plantings, to the incredibly decorated patio, the beautiful and creatively displayed collection of statuary and the lovely brick Georgian colonial home, there was nothing I didn't love about this property. It was all designed and maintained by the home owners who obviously have excellent taste and impeccable eyes for detail. Even the hoses and watering cans were artfully arranged. Usually I'm not a fan of formal gardens but in my opinion the design of this garden strikes just the perfect balance between formal and informal. I could live here.
As it turns out I had visited this garden once before when it was on the tour of a local garden club
. In conversation with one of the owners I learned that was in 2005. Sheesh-I do need to get out more. Where does time go?
On to garden number three!
A sizeable investment has been made in the property and hard scaping of this garden. Usually a meticulously maintained garden of this size uses some form of outside help and this one is no exception. When asked how the beautiful river rock edging is maintained, the garden owner told me a crew removes the stone, places it in buckets, weeds and edges the strip, then washes the stone and replaces it. Hundreds of feet of this edging treatment was located throughout the garden. Yikes!
However the home owners are very involved in the design and maintenance of the garden, they open for tours frequently, and graciously and enthusiastically welcome all visitors. The property includes a pool area, rose gardens, perennial borders and woodlands. My favorite garden is the richly planted shade garden which encompasses most of the front yard. Flagstone paths meander through tall trees. Music plays softly in the background. A collection of sculpture is displayed throughout. The overall effect is enchantingly cool and serene.
Going forward I plan to keep a closer eye on the Open Days schedule. Visiting private gardens, especially when they have been spiffed up for tours, is fun and entertaining. You return to your own garden energized with new ideas and visions. Although speaking of my own garden, if I want to be able to do any entertaining in it at all this summer, I'd better start spending more time toiling in it and less time crawling through nurseries, restaurants and other people's gardens.