What I like about garden tours is that we get an opportunity to find out if we have a “Doppel-Gardener” buddy who does things similarly to ourselves–either plant choices, how they are arranged, percentage of space allotted to gardens, style, degree of detail (none to astounding) to things like mulch, weeding, neatness, etc. It’s always good to find someone you can identify with and who “gets you”.
The other factor is that by August, many of our gardens have already seen their best moments. This year was hard on many of us with days of heat and lack of rain more pronounced than in previous years. So, those brave souls who have August tours have a hit or miss proposition as far as plant materials that show off then. What we do get to see is the backbone of their gardens. What are they starting with or have they built as structural elements to date? We get to see what is important. It is also seen how one carries on the gardening season. What have they planted that gives enjoyment toward the end of the season? And garden kitsch stands out more when there are fewer plants, so there is the ornamental element too.
There are some nice outer housing developments in parts of Carroll County that have quite large lots. Our co-garden tour ladies live on one of these acre sized lots. What was fun is that they are diagonal neighbors that join via a large central swath of lawn dotted with trees and shrubs. There were no divisions imposed by fencing or a solid line of shrubs as a boundary, so the visual flow was unimpeded. Denise’s home lot was surrounded by mown grass with her pride of Red Delicious apple trees down one side (which she happily shared). Larkin’s home was a bit more tucked away, revealed more by increments as one walked in her direction, due to tree placement.
We met first at Denise’s lovely home. What I noted first was the raised bed for vegetables and some very tall sunflowers. Her rear yard is fenced and enclosed a very blue swimming pool with plantings inside. Apparently, before August it was a wonder of purple blooming flowers, according to Larkin. She has –azaleas and lilacs(not blooming in August), butterfly bush, roses, hydrangeas, boxwoods, barberry, dahlias, yucca and other perennials. The area around the raised deck had shrubs in bloom providing the main color pops at this date. For a working mom with limited time, it seemed like an ideal easier care option to consolidate plantings in the way she had. I would enjoy sitting on her deck admiring the flowers and relaxing.
Larkin uses raised beds and container planting. She had sunflowers, beans, tomatoes, peppers and ornamentals in a designated area and by her driveway making things easy to access. Her husband also enjoys gardening; I understand orchids are a specialty. We saw her huge blueberry bushes and the massive pussy willow she harvests from. Wow! Around her porch she had a bright hodge podge of friendly, easily grown garden flower favorites lending a cheerful and welcoming air.
Afterwards, we adjourned to Denise’s kitchen for refreshments.
(Click to enlarge for slide show.)