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.


  1. Great place to visit. Very pretty and what a nice tradition, especially afterwards. :)

    Cher Sunray Gardens

  2. How nice of you to make this a Mother's Day tradition. Garden tours are an annual must-do event around here, too. It's always fun to see what other people with the same interests are creating in their own backyard paradises. We usually come away with many ideas to incorporate into our own disaster here. (Not that we need any more ideas...just ask my husband.)

    The arbor is gorgeous but you're right, it's going to be completely hidden under that monster wisteria vine. I've never seen an actual, live wisteria, but one look at the stems, er, trunks? is kinda scary.

    We're getting ready for a garden walk here in a few too-short weeks; chaos reigns supreme at the moment. Too much to do and not enough time. It was nice to stroll through the gardens you showcased, looking forward to Part 2.

    1. Wisteria "trees" can get pretty huge here. A couple years ago on this same tour I saw one that was planted in the front yard and had been trained to go all the way around their house. It was amazing.

      Good luck in preparing for your garden tour! I hope to see a blog post about it. :)

  3. I love the arbor. When I lived in Sac as a kid it was so easy to grow roses. Baseball bat sized zucchini grew quite well, too. :o) The tour looks like an interesting time. I agree that the house with the pool and all the decor around it would be a bit plain without it. Better yet - fill in the pool, make a small pond, and plant a garden.

    1. Yes, zucchini and roses still do well here. Sometimes they do so well that it fools me into believing that I'm good at this gardening stuff.