by Charlene Burgi
Were you able to visit the spectacular gardens on the Eco-Friendly Garden Tour this year? I was only able to get to five of the 27 gardens, and I must say those I visited were stunning and as different as day and night. I was amazed to see the uses of recycled materials. Some materials were used to construct walls, patio chairs, walkways and garden art. One garden saved the fireplace/chimney from an old building on the site and turned it into a pizza oven.
Beneficial beehives, portable cold frames on wheels, rainwater catchment systems, graywater “laundry to landscape” systems, worm bins and chickens peppered gardens to the delight of those attending. There were native gardens as well as gardens boasting colorful, low-water-use plants that replaced thirsty lawns. Vine-covered arbors drew guests in, veggie gardens promised harvests yet-to-come, and there was color galore.
I visited one garden in a tract of similar homes. The garden theme throughout the neighborhood was classic lawns with a few shrubs strategically placed. I was stunned by the difference a garden can make as I approached the address of the garden on tour. This native garden sparkled with color as the abundant yellow flowers of Mimulus and contrasting white yarrow and bush anemones brightened an otherwise gray cloudy day. The uniqueness of the garden seemed to also catch the attention of wildlife as quail and other birds-of-feather darted about this haven.
There was another common thread I noticed on the tour this past Saturday. I found most gardens had a familiar plant that characteristically blends into the background until it blooms. Even then, the plant remains unnoticed except for its fragrant flowers. This oldie but goodie is Pittosporum tobira, commonly known as mock orange*. The creamy white clustered flowers bloom in May. As the plant slowly grows to its ten-foot maturity, the blooms cover and obscure the deep shiny green leaves borne on this foundation plant.
Did you take any pictures on the tour? We hope to post an album of photos from the tour on our Facebook page. If you have favorites you would like to share, please forward them to Ann here at MMWD and we will credit you. By sharing your photos, we can all enjoy seeing the gardens through your eyes!
*There are three plants that carry the common name of mock orange: Philadelphus lewisii, Choisya ternata and Pittosporum tobira. The first mentioned is a deciduous plant that grows in dry rocky soils and carries fragrant white flowers that bloom in early spring. It was named after Meriwether Lewis who discovered it in 1806 as he forged across Idaho toward the Pacific. Choisya is found in warmer climates such as our Mediterranean climate, southern California and south of the border. The sweet-smelling flowers appear in spring and summer. The plant needs protection from cold winter temperatures and is susceptible to root rot if it isn’t given good drainage.