by Charlene Burgi
Spring shows in so many ways: Daffodils nod their pretty yellow heads as if to announce the glorious sunny days ahead. Tulips emerge for a brief time and provide that splash of brilliant color after a long winter of drab, wet and cold. Grasses seem greener, and deciduous shrubs come out of their winter slumber by displaying hints of new leaf sprouts that may be precursors to a forthcoming parade of flowers.
“Spring shows” can have an entirely different meaning, too. No, I am not talking about the onslaught of weeds that require tending, but literally a show—that is, a garden show. Spring seems to be the time of year that we can become legal voyeurs by entering into prized private gardens. Garden shows or tours allow us to stop in and admire the creative ideas that other homeowners have employed to take their gardens up a notch. They may be gardens that specialize in catching the rainwater to irrigate. They might focus on plants that require minimal amounts of water or feature beautiful California natives. Or they can offer other forms of inspiration too numerous to cover.
These garden shows can offer unique ideas to employ in one’s own garden. You might draw a blank when contemplating how to make a natural raised bed without constructing a wood-box affair and backfilling it with soil. Instead, you might see stacked stone lining the downslope pathway that offers that same concept of a raised bed, but one that blends in with nature.
Besides form, plant material is another thing I tend to key in on when attending garden shows—especially if I am working with a problem area. One year I was introduced to a new type of ornamental strawberry that is now thriving despite the abusive area where it was planted.
I also note the type of irrigation methods being used in specific hydrozones. At one garden show, a new method of drip irrigation came to light that I hope to employ this year. The creative ideas are limitless and yet at our fingertips while attending these events.
If you’re looking for this type of inspiration, don’t miss the Eco-Friendly Garden Tour
on Saturday, May 5. MMWD and Sonoma County Water Agency are partnering to host the tour, which includes 18 gardens in two counties. The self-guided tour begins at 10 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m. The tour is free; the price is only your time to register before taking the tour.
I recommend wearing comfortable shoes for walking around. Bring cameras and notebooks. (Okay, most cell phones accommodate those needs now). The homeowners or landscapers may be there to talk about how they manage their gardens, or how to implement specific ideas, so come with questions, too!
Most of all, enjoy the day. Remember to look beyond the pretty flowers to see what other elements help create and sustain these beautiful gardens! Oh, and register here