Field Trip

May 3, 2010

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Yesterday, I attended the San Joaquin Master Gardeners’ Home Garden Tour. Strolls like these make me feel good, and this first-time event was impressive for reasons other than the gardens. (Not that the gardens weren’t worth seeing, because they were.)

At each residence, there were several Master Gardeners dressed in matching red vests eager to answer questions. They handed out plant lists detailing exposure needs and water requirements. ID tags marked the plants throughout the grounds. If you spotted a desirable plant, you’d know what to ask for at the nursery! Horticulture literature, books, and information on products and composting were available. My favorite mapping highlight was the roadside directional flags. Most organizations place small, short signs that blend into the landscape making them invisible behind parked cars and shrubs. The flags at yesterday’s tour were tall and colorful, easy to sight a block away.

One of the six gardens included Sue Chinchiolo’s beautiful grounds. (Sue has the black mulch written about in the last Give and Take article.) As I wandered about each garden, camera strap around my neck, I overheard people noting plants they intended to add to they’re yard. Comments on the placement of accents (such as antiques and whimsical ironwork) spurred bright ideas. Even Sue’s black mulch attracted questions, mostly from people asking where to buy it.

Although many of us have had to cut back on activities, pinching elsewhere to attend at least one home garden tour is worth the sacrifice. You’ll walk away energized, hopeful, and best of all you’ll feel good.

When Touring Gardens Note:

Where to place seating

Where to place focal points

Material options for fencing

Material options for pathways

How to connect garden rooms

How to dress up unsightly sheds

How to blend structures with plants

What to do with a long narrow yard

How to integrate vegetables in flowerbeds

How to marry plant heights, texture, and hues

How to integrate antiques without looking junky

At this residence, there were several old buildings throughout the grounds. The homeowner dressed them up by painting the doors a bold color.

To create a theme they used the same color on each door, including the house—clever and inexpensive.

This is just one example of the many ideas

gained by attending home garden tours.

Copyright © 2010 Dianne Marie Andre



  1. As usual, Dianne, a great article. It is nice to have our Garden Tour critiqued. I am so glad that you enjoyed the Tour. It was good seeing you again, especially so soon.


  2. Yesterday was a magical day in our garden. I met so many wonderful gardening enthusiasts. The Master Gardeners and their friends certainly did a splendid job making this first San Joaquin Master Gardener Garden Tour a “Sprouting” success. Dianne, I just want to give you an extra thanks for your help. So….thanks so “mulch”.


  3. That must have been a great tour. Being able to connect with other gardeners helps you in so many ways.


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