Sweet Inspiration

Just like last year, I have the great pleasure of being on the garden selection committee of the Going Native Garden Tour. We've been soliciting gardens for the last few months, and went on the first evaluation tour of 7 gardens last week. I made quite a few photos because I found several of the gardens so inspiring. Above, a picture of the front garden of the garden designer on this evaluation tour. The evaluation committee always includes one designer and at least two other committee members, and last week we started at the designer's garden. I was impressed by the wildlife friendly yet tidy looking garden with deer grass and manzanita and beautiful redbuds. And can you believe the fence?

Yes, hand painted blue iris and iris leaves all along the fence, and some iris inside the fence to mirror the painted flowers. Just lovely. After I'd uuuhh'ed and aaaa'ed over the fence for a bit, we were off to the first garden, the demonstration garden of the Santa Clara Valley Audobon Society at McClellan Ranch Park.

We were enchanted by this beautiful little garden, alive with the songs of birds, beautifully maintained, and clearly labeled. Above, a manzanita nicely set off against the path to the visitor center.

A dramatic bird bath nestled between salvias, native buckwheat, and deer grass. Close by, a majestic  native oak giving shelter to the birds who enjoy the different types of feeders placed throughout the garden.

Succulents in a pot, with native iris right behind. We were impressed that this garden, designed and maintained by volunteers, showed such a great sense for design and was so vibrant and alive and we were delighted to accept this garden for the tour. If you live in the area, a visit to this garden might be fun any time of year; it's a public garden.

The owner of the next garden had removed her front lawn and made the garden drought tolerant and beautiful, partly with rebate money from the water district. I was immediately enchanted by the succulent plantings in the side strip.

All right, it's not all natives, but it looked great and was such a clever way to use that area.

And in spring an summer, the California poppies will give the succulent squares a native feeling. But there was more. Don't you love the stairs leading up to the house?

And just look how great that dry streambed looks with the bench (made with recycled wood) along the side.

Admittedly, the ceanothus, iris, asters, and other plants have a little bit of growing up to do. But I expect that by April, they'll have spread quite impressively, and that all visitors to the garden will find it inspiring.

The next garden was not too far, also a front garden but this one combined edibles and natives.  I was especially pleased by the many butterfly-friendly plants including Verbena liliacea, buckwheats, and a southern California sunflower.

But the centerpiece of this garden were the planter boxes with the attractive edging.

The garden was on a corner lot and looked inviting and attractive from all angles.

And a beautiful birdbath was the finishing touch.

 We were delighted to tell that gardener that we would happily accept their garden, and we're hoping more gardens will sign up so we can offer interesting and beautiful gardens throughout the Santa Clara Valley on tour day. The main rule is 50% California native plants, and no invasive plants (look at Don't Plant a Pest for a list of plants we won't accept).

If you live in the area, we may be waiting for YOUR application? We're hoping to offer some directions for bike tours from garden to garden this year, but need enough gardens to do that. Go to www.gngt.org to apply.

If you don't live in the area, or if you live here and your garden is still half lawn, half yawn, I hope you'll find these photos inspiring and start planning your own native plant paradise.


Country Mouse said…
What lovely accents the gardeners added. It'll be so great to see the gardens in spring - maybe you can take the same photos again!
debsgarden said…
Beautiful gardens! The tour should be wonderful, with many great ideas for gardeners interested in native plants of your area. I, too, love the fence!
I love the corners of those planter boxes. I can't imagine though, having to make garden selections at this time of year, in anticipation of how they will look by spring. Loved the tour last year though, and looking forward to the next one for some more design inspiration! But first, as the sun is actually shining this morning...I have some planting to do! :)
rebecca sweet said…
What gorgeous gardens - thanks for the 'sneak peek'!! I'm particularly fond of the raised planter bed - did they make those corner pieces by hand? Those are absolutely stunning and I can't wait to see them in person on the tour!!
Amrita said…
Dear Counttry Mouse these are such beautifully laid out gardens. Would require a tem of gardeners and lots of creative planning to acomplish this. I like the fence to.
Sure doesn't look like Illinois! I love how once we go native, true regional garden styles take wing.
Susan Krzywicki said…
OOOH. We are doing a Garden Tour, too! How exciting. I hope yours is a great success. It looks like you are off to a wonderful start.

The San Diego Garden Tour will be in April to coincide with California Native Plant Week.

Check out my blog for more details if you are in San Diego!