This is the fourth year that I've included my garden on the Going Native Garden Tour in Santa Clara Valley. And I really have two goals: I want to educate people about California natives, and I want for everyone (including myself) to have a good time.
For this years tour, I was just a little worried. As the sun was rising it was already in the high 60, and the forecast was for the low 90s. Still, it was pleasant to walk around in the morning light and distribute the signs for all the natives.
Every garden on tour must label all natives, and I use yogurt container lids that I distribute in the early morning and remove again at the end of the day. Looking around, I was pleased that more blossoms had opened on the Carpenteria Californica.
I wiped away some spit bug juice (they always arrive the day before the tour), brought out the books, my garden plan, and educational materials, then sat down to a delicious breakfast that Mr. Mouse had prepared for me.
At around 9:30, the fun began. My morning greeter (who is actually one of my neighbors, thanks again!), my fellow docent Country Mouse, and the nursery truck arrived. Yes, my garden had been selected to have Almaden Valley Nursery come and sell their stunning natives in my driveway. This was a special treat for all, not only because the visitors could buy plants, but also because the nursery staff was very knowledgable about the growing conditions of each plant and could therefore help with questions. They had quite a selection, here's a photo from later in the day. There's more on the left side of the driveway.
The first visitors started to arrive promptly at 10, and there were only very few lulls in the steady stream. Our attractive sign was out to make sure nobody missed us.
Right in front of the garage door, conveniently in the shade, we had the sign-in desk staffed by a volunteer and the cashier from the nursery.
As the sun got stronger, the garden looked more and more beautiful.
Especially in the shade. The neighbors' redwoods shade the back garden, so many of the visitors lingered, asking a few questions and sitting on the benches for a bit as the day got warmer. I really enjoyed meeting people, even some readers of this blog, answering questions, and being outside in the shade on such a beautiful day. My garden designer Chris Todd was my afternoon docent, and a second wonderful volunteer came for the front desk.
By 3:30, the stream of visitors slowed a bit. By 3:45, the nursery announced a special so the visitors that were there agonized over which plants to buy and we ended up running a little late. Then I collected the yogurt lid labels for next year, helped the nursery a bit with packing up (they even swept the driveway, I was so impressed), and then went inside and got a cool glass of tea. The next job was doing the math: 387 visitors this year. I was pretty impressed until I found out that the Old Adobe garden, featured in the Palo Alto Weekly the week before, had had over 800 visitors. But we actually were pretty close to the top.
As the totals from the different gardens came in by email, everyone remarked how delightful it had been to talk to people who were really interested in conserving water and changing their gardens. Everyone had more visitors than ever before, and we all felt our mission had been accomplished: Education... and FUN.
Meanwhile, the lizards and birds that like to hang out in the garden were greatly relieved that the circus was over and that the humans returned to their job of taking care of the plants and the bird baths.