by Charlene Burgi
A few years ago I planted Aztec lilies in Lassen County to see how they would perform in extreme weather conditions. That early garden was planted primarily with bulbs that could sustain themselves without the need for irrigation or critter control since we were not living there yet. The following summer provided a modest display of color to the front garden. I felt like the choices I made were a success despite lacking the framework I knew was needed in the course of the garden’s evolution.
A beautiful garden is not typically rolled out in a weekend. It involves living with the space and takes years to plan, experiment, coordinate, add and subtract. During that evolution, plants grow, can be moved or removed. In time, gardens take form and shape. A well-planned garden provides color, texture and interest at various times of the year. The design should draw you in to probe the mystery of hidden fragrances, explore follies, and discover the intricacy of exquisite flowers. Plant choices need to add to the form of a garden while also serving the function of attracting birds, butterflies and beneficial insects. The sustainable practices for maintaining a healthy garden must be considered during the development.
Part of the evolution requires thought about how the space will be utilized. Is the garden a place for entertaining, growing food, playing or meditating? Would you like to grow natives or consider rainwater catchment systems? Will there be an area for chickens, garden shed or greenhouse? It could be a combination of all these elements and designed with rooms and pathways meandering throughout.
Are you stuck on the evolution of your garden? Is there a trouble spot or tired portion of the landscape that needs to be spruced up? Perhaps you are starting with a fresh blank slate and looking for ideas. On Saturday, May 18, the Marin Municipal Water District invites you to explore nine beautiful and inspiring gardens on the Marin-Friendly Garden Tour. This FREE, self-guided tour runs 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and will also include “garden talks” by local experts. Register at marinfriendly.brownpapertickets.com, and we will email you the Garden Guide, which provides information about each garden as well as addresses and driving directions. Register by May 1 to be automatically entered into a drawing to win a Marin-Friendly prize.
Believe it or not, in their past lives many of the gardens on the tour were dull lawn, invasive weeds or even concrete. They certainly have been transformed over time. Each garden is unique. Each garden offers various ideas that may stimulate creative changes. Learn about environmentally friendly garden practices and put these ideas to work for you. Let the gardens evolve!