Wednesday, June 23, 2010

There Goes the Neighborhood

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Last Saturday was the annual Junior League Garden and Terrace Tour in my town. Usually that means a few hours driving from neighborhood to neighborhood, parking amongst the hordes, visiting a garden, getting back in the car and driving to the next one.

But green is the new black, so this year they arranged for all the gardens (and terraces) on the tour to be in one neighborhood.

My neighborhood.

The HOA sent out an email reminding us gently of the tour and add it might be nice if all the yards looked pretty. We all reflect upon each other, after all, and lots and lots of people would be coming through.

Great. I didn't ask to be on a tour. And I'm not much for mob mentality, either. But the first real garden you actually see upon entering our neighborhood is, well ... mine. We call it The Point, because it's on the corner of the yard on the corner of the cul-de-sac right by the street, so it's kind of triangular.

Friday the din of lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, leaf blowers and the like was deafening, despite the fact that most of the folks around here maintain their yards pretty well anyway. I weeded and deadheaded a bit, but for the most part left The Point as is. There wasn't time to make the few changes I've been planning, anyway. My one regret was that so many of the plants -- daisies, mums, liatris, echinacea, butterfly weed, coreopsis, etc. were only on the edge of blooming.

Turned out it didn't matter anyway. The tour started at eight a.m. Sipping coffee at seven-fifteen I opened the blinds to find the streets lined with cars -- including all around the point. No one could see it anyway. Or most of the other yards, either. I felt quite vindicated in my lack of fervor.

We got on our bikes and cycled through the tour. The streets were packed. The tour gardens were packed. We went back home, and I holed up in my basement office until it was time to go to Craig Johnson's book signing.

The next day, however, I went along my usual walking route and took pictures of a few gardens on the tour sans crowds.

The absence of lawn is popular in the high desert. Xeriscaping is the practice of landscaping with drought-tolerant plants among a long of hardscape -- mostly rock, with some bark. Not all of these plants qualify, for example the irises, but there's also plenty of yarrow, lamb's ears, oriental poppies and cranesbill geranium.

This family is as fond of the California poppies as I am. Some of the blue is a salvia popping all over town right now. Red valerian adds the third primary color.

The sheer abundance of plants here is impressive -- more so than the camera allows -- but to my eye it feels a bit cramped and busy. I should note that there is a lot more going on in the backyards, but I wasn't going to be that nosy. Sophie Mae would, of course, but not me.

This is probably my favorite. The open feel, the grasses that hold interest all through winter, the carefully placed rocks give it a feeling of good feng shui. Of course, it's only two years old; I watched the landscapers install the whole shebang over the course of a week's worth of walks. The more mature yards don't have this architectural look for the most part.

My preference might be to live at the end of a dirt road and focus on edibles over ornamentals. My preference is definitely not to ever, ever, be a show home on the garden -- or any other -- tour. But just like when the whole house gets cleaned because visitors are coming from out of town, Saturday's excitement was an impetus for catching up with the yard work.


  1. I would have thought the title "There Goes the Neighborhood" would have been far more appropriate for your blog entry on building a frickin' BAT HOUSE.

  2. Lol! You do seem to have an issue with das fledermaus, D. Is there an unfortunate encounter with a vampire in your past that I don't know about?

  3. The photos are beautiful. I can see why they used your neighborhood. Glad you had a good day for it.

    Thoughts in Progress

  4. Love these beautiful Colorado gardens! Thanks for sharing the photos.

  5. Gorgeous pictures, Cricket! What a beautiful place to be creative. :)

  6. Thanks for the neighborhood garden tour.
    Great photography.
    Ok, now back to pullin' weeds...

  7. Thanks Mason. I wish the photos really captured the beauty of the plantings, but you get the idea.

    Jenny, the gardens in Colorado are rather distinctive, aren't they?

    Elizabeth, as long as you ruminate on writing while weeding! Otherwise it can be a real time-suck ; - >

    Team Pursuits, how is it that once you finish you immediately have start all over again?