Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mother's Day Garden Tour Part II

If you missed Part I you can find it "here".

Let's dive right back in with the fourth house on the tour.

Not everyone can live on a golf course, but if you have the desire, I suppose you can bring the golf course to your front yard.  This is not my style at all, but it's not my house either.

Yes, that's a putting green.  It's surrounded by Mondo Grass though and I like that.  I use it all over my yard.

I'll be blunt.  This was my least favorite garden on the tour.  I would have done a lot of things differently if it were my house, but even so I did like a few features such as these nicely concealed utility areas:

I also liked this piece of art work tucked into a corner of the yard:

But about 90% of the backyard was decking material and although I think what they had was nice enough, it was just too much wood for me (That's what she said!).

And like everyone in Sacramento, they were going crazy with their tomatoes.

The next house on the tour was my daughter's favorite.  For some reason it was decorated in a Pirate theme.  I guess it was advertising for a company.  If my daughter was the target demographic, it worked.

The yard was nice, but the hospitality left something to be desired.  I think they poisoned the grog.

These treasure chests may be filled with riches, but the real value in placing something here is in screening the hot tub.

Before we set sail on this house, let's have a look at a few of the more land-lubbing features of this garden like this large Japanese maple.

This fence hides the pool equipment.  It should look great when these vines (bower vines, I think) grow in more.

This next picture is for my daughter.  She thoughts these beach balls were "so cool".

The next house on the tour was my favorite.  This garden felt lived in and cared for to me.  I didn't get the impression that everything was planted three weeks ago.  This garden clearly has a loving caretaker.  My first clue that I was going to enjoy this garden was this Japanese maple which looks like a Koto-no-ito to me.  Translated, that means "golden old harp."  I love this tree and have a smaller version in my own yard.

And then there was this awesome bench.

Due to the shadows, the sunlight and all the people, I didn't have a chance to frame this scene as well as it deserves, but if you can look past its shortcomings as a photograph you can get a good sense of the feel and layout of the garden.

Here's a closer view of the stepping stones, ground cover, and the rocks edging the beds.

This garden had a nice-sized patio and covering it was this iron structure with bamboo roofing.  I fell in love with this because I love iron in the garden and the bamboo covering would ease the sticker shock a bit since I don't think I'd ever be able to afford a full awning's worth of iron or steel.

Like plants?  Here are a bunch of them:

And check out the colors on the Japanese maple (probably a 'Bloodgood' but who knows?)

The final house was a bit of a let down after this past one but in the front yard along their walkway to the front door they had this pretty cool "water feature".  Our summers are so hot here that any kind of moving water is always a welcome sight.

This fountain was also in the front yard along their driveway.

In the backyard was yet another fountain; this one much larger.  The artwork hanging on the fence was part of the garden tour's fundraising.  I believe those were painted by the elementary school kids.  If they were done by the homeowner . . . well, I hope that's not their day job.

The garden wasn't all about water features though.  There was nice looking hardscaping too.

And gazing balls . . . Sometimes I think gazing balls look great.  Most of the time, I think they look tacky.  Thoughts?

Thanks for joining me on my tour!  I hope you enjoyed it.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Garden Tour Part I

For the past six years I have taken my wife and mother-in-law on a garden tour in East Sacramento as part of our Mother's Day tradition.   On the surface it might seem self-serving that I take them on a garden tour since I'm the one that writes a gardening blog, but they really do enjoy going on the tour and it's a nice family tradition now.  Besides, we follow it up with a brunch that includes all you can drink mimosas.

Although I really enjoy this tour and I have been inspired by it in some way every year, my primary critique is that the gardens on the tour tend to be more "outdoor living spaces" than gardens.

Of course, in Sacramento that makes sense since we can comfortably enjoy a dinner on the patio basically from March through October.  One change I noticed this year was fewer outdoor kitchens and fewer outside TVs though.  I'm guessing that with the reduction in property values that fewer home owners have taken home equity loans out to invest in extravagant features for their back yards.  Or maybe people realized that they'd rather watch TV inside after all. 

My only other complaint is that the tour takes place during all the worst hours for taking photos.  I took 171 pictures on the day of the tour.  Too many of them were washed out by the sun, but here are some of them that weren't too bad:

House 1:

When we walked into this backyard, everyone was asking about this tree.  It was a "tour stopper."

I enjoyed the secluded sitting area seen here through this Japanese maple.

Another view of the seating area:

I see these fountains all over the place but usually I see the "disappearing pond" built into the ground.  I'm not sure I like the contrasting color combination of the pot, the rocks, and the concrete container especially in front of the brick, but I like the idea.

House 2:

I'm guessing that this is an Iceberg Climbing rose that greets visitors as they walk into the back yard of this house.  It was certainly healthy and happy.

This espaliered tree actually belongs to the neighbor but they shared a driveway so I'm sure both homeowners appreciate the green breaking up the monochromatic expanse of this side of the house.  It also seems like a clever way to draw attention away from the pipe.  I know that the are of espalier can make it possible to grow trees in small spaces but there couldn't have been more than 4 inches of earth to plant this guy in.

I really thought this lion statue picked up the colors of the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow plant perfectly.

Worth another view:

This iron arbor seemed to garner a lot of attention for it's ornateness.  But I appreciated it for it's sturdiness which it's going to need . . .

. . . because it's supporting these already gigantic wisteria vines:

This yard also had a pool that was just big enough to submerge yourself in and get cooled off.  I'm not sure that it matches the rest of the garden but I'd also bet that the homeowners don't care when they are relaxing in it with their eyes closed.

House 3:

This garden had many several distinct areas but my mother-in-law thought they didn't flow together and I agreed.  It's difficult to design a cohesive garden to start with but I imagine it's even harder when you have to work around a pool and large spans of concrete.

This fountain is the first thing that greets you when you enter the back yard through a side gate.

The adjacent dining area would be a nice place to eat a dinner.

And here's the pool area.  Many of the embellishments you see in this photo were brought in just for this tour.  I'd be curious to see how this area looks without the decoration.  I think it might look a little drab.

This peaceful grassy area sits between the pool and the dining area, but the fence around the pool area made accessing it a bit more of a chore than you would want.

And, finally:

I'll post Part II of the tour soon so please come back for more pictures.