Archive for July 11th, 2011


Field Trip: gardens, gnomes, and goodies

July 11, 2011

In recent weeks, I took a day off from the demands of everyday life and hopped into my friend’s car for a garden tour. It was over an hour’s drive to Tuolumne County, a mountains community of red soil and narrow, roller coaster roads. Because the outing was my idea I hoped it would be worth my friend’s time. Most garden tours are $25 and up. This one was only $10. I was a little apprehensive.

The first garden was ah-la-natural with laidback qualities. The premium attraction was the complimentary snacks and cold lemonade on a table covered in white linen. While I wandered about, my friend, who had fallen under the spell of sweet chocolate, ate six yummy cookies! When she caught up me, we quickly scanned the mayhem grounds then politely exited to the car where I was told about the cookie disgrace. At this point the tour didn’t look promising. I was glad to hear pleasure was reaped.

At the next stop the garden was delightful. I had been redeemed. Tucked behind a white picket fence was a well-tended fairyland. Gnomes, fairies, small, medium and giant mushrooms, ponds, and gazebos adorned the large front, side and back yards. Although the garden was a little eccentric, it had the appearance of a charming village where mystical characters lived among 100 plant and tree species. My favorite was a beautiful Eastern Redbud tree.

From there we drove to a hillside garden with native and deer resistant plants. Barberry, beard tongue, lily turf, maiden grass and more grew under oaks, Japanese maples, dogwood, and ginkgo trees.

Another garden showcased a shed that resembles an outhouse, and recycled artifacts tucked here and there as landscape art or plant containers. Some of the 85 species included dahlias, calla lilies, aster, foxglove, and evening primrose.

The last garden on the tour was designed for wildlife and is certified as a Wildlife Garden by the National Wildlife Federation. The homeowners’ goal was to attract birds, bees, bats, butterflies and insects that crawl inside flowers. This was accomplished with 14 sage varieties, coneflowers, several milkweed varieties, rosebushes, flowering maple, coral bells plus 90 other flowering plants and trees.

Iceland Poppy

At day’s end, we had walked through mayhem pathways, entered a fairyland, trekked hillsides, and roamed a certified wildlife garden. The long drive to a little mountainous community with red soil and narrow, roller coaster roads, and a mere ten dollars was well worth our time. Any apprehension I felt beforehand had vanished.

Garden Touring Tips:

  • To avoid the heat and crowds, get an early start.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, a sunhat and sunscreen.
  • Use a GPS, especially when touring out of town gardens.
  • Many gardens are not wheelchair accessible or elderly friendly, so check on this beforehand.
  • Garden tours don’t always provide complimentary refreshments so pack a few – at least six yummy cookies.
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