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We had three gardens left to see as I toured with Ann’s garden club from Vancouver, Washington.

Next was Jo’s garden, always a big favourite on a garden tour.  Ann had seen it before but agreed that it was even better this year.

entering Jo and Bob's little paradise

entering Jo and Bob’s little paradise

honeysuckle arbour and gate

honeysuckle arbour and gate

I have seen over and over how joyous expressions accompany Jo’s garden.

This colourful garden brings happiness.

This colourful garden brings happiness.

jo

Lavatera and Cosmos

taking pics and taking notes

taking pics and taking notes

chatting with Jo

chatting with Jo

A suspenseful situation was brewing while we were at Jo’s.  The next garden was to be Gene’s garden, and because of the story of how it had been created by him and his late wife Peggy,  it mattered to me greatly that he be there.  There is something that happens after a garden tour if you are going through a hard time in life.  The tour preparation can be very absorbing and distracting, and the tour day is an exhilarating high…and then one crashes and reality sets in.  This happened to my friends Tom and Judy when their garden was on tour while he was going through chemo.  Right after the tour, reality hit them with a thud.  (I am happy to say he is fine over a year later!)  The same happened to Gene:  the let down after tour day and all the memories that he was able to share about Peggy’s garden.  I knew having Ann’s club come through the garden would be a pick me up, just as it was last year for Tom and Judy.  So  I called him as soon as we got to Jo’s to say we would be at his home in about half an hour.  He told me there was a problem:  he had to meet briefly with an engineer.  He’s the Long Beach City Administrator so has many responsibilities.  I decided (conspiring with Ann) that I had to delay the tour, somehow, even though the garden club members were getting hungry…so after Jo’s, I took them next door to see the garden at the Boreas Inn, just two doors north.   The beautiful interior of the inn (which we walked through) and the gardens on the west side between the inn and the dunes kept them occupied for a little while longer.  I was so anxious about timing that I forgot to take any photos of them there.

After that, I could delay no longer and we went to the south end of Long Beach to Gene’s garden:  The Peggy Miles Memorial Garden.  Gene had not yet returned…

the garden club at Gene's

the garden club at Gene’s

Ok, if he could not meet them, I decided I would at least have a photo for him, and I gathered the club members in the courtyard.  (They had already oohed and ahed over its every detail.)

Ann is third from the right.

Ann is third from the right.

But then, as they began to leave the courtyard, I had an idea.  I did not want them to miss the essence of this garden, so I called to Ann to get them to wait while I looked something up on my iPhone.  Of course, it took a long time to load…and I could not find the photo that I needed on Facebook…and then I remembered Debbie Teashon’s beautiful article about the garden on her website, Rainyside.com.  I knew the photo was there…and it loaded.  So I exerted all my crowd control and gathered the ladies back into the courtyard.  I said, “You must hear these words to understand this garden completely.  This was what Gene wrote and had on a display of photos of Peggy and her garden for the guests to read on tour day.”  And I read from my little phone screen, somehow without crying:

Gene's story of the garden

Gene’s story of the garden

The garden club was so moved, all were misty eyed, and one was weeping.  They expressed awe at how beautifully written the words were.   We then went around to the front of the townhouse so I could get one last photo of the group for Gene.

around the house for a photo

around the house for a photo

One group member said she was still crying.  As I took the photo…he drove up!  You can see the members of the club turning their heads as his car turns into the drive.

gene arrives

My mission was complete, and there was a little time for visiting.  Gene was told how much they appreciated what he wrote, and that they were not sure all husbands would do the same for their wives.  The mood was lightened when I said that is exactly what had been heard on tour day:  Women saying “I don’t think my husband would do this for me!”  Gene spoke of how he had gone to grief counseling and learned that you really do not “get over” such a loss, and it is okay, or good, to not get over it.  (Who would want to “get over” someone they loved?)

Gene and the garden club talk of love and loss.

Gene and the garden club talk of love and loss.

After that, we had only my garden to walk through.

Ann's garden club in my garden

Ann’s garden club in my garden

Eryngium 'Jade Frost' being admired

an Eryngium being admired

We walked round all the beds and talked plant talk.   The garden club is comprised of women who, I realized when I rode around with them, talk of country clubs and travel at an economic level that is miles beyond my working class life, but they have just as much interest in a good garden attached to a humble “double wide trailer” as they do in a fine garden in a gated community like Butterfly Shores.  I like that.

more attention for the Eryngium!

more attention for the Eryngium!

And then they all departed to have their lunch, with lots of appreciation for their tour day, leaving me with the late afternoon and evening to do my own preparations for the edible garden tour which would be just four days hence.

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Aug 7, 2013

Every year, Ann S’s garden club from Vancouver, Washington comes to the Peninsula for a post-Music in the Gardens tour.  Usually Ann picks her favourite gardens on tour day and asks the owners if she can come back in three weeks, on a weekday.  This year, she herself was unable to make the big tour, so I decided to take the day off and go with the group to most of the gardens that were on the tour.  (Last year, Ann’s own bayside garden was on the Music in the Gardens tour.)

Allan dropped me off at Ann’s house, where the group came down the stairs sounding like a flock of exotic birds.  Off we went in three vehicles to Marilyn and Nancy’s “healing garden”.  Nancy was there when we arrived (left in photo below); as owner of the wonderful Depot Restaurant, she knew that the group would be having a delicious meal there at the end of the day.

The garden club at Marilyn's

The garden club at Marilyn’s

at Marilyn's

at Marilyn’s, noticing the variegated Knautia ‘Thunder and Lightning’

This variegated thyme also caught their eye.

This variegated thyme also caught their eye.

Of course, the painted sage was a hit, as always.

Of course, the painted sage was a hit, as always.

I made sure to take them next door to see the great outdoor fireplace made by the neighbour’s son.    The ladies loved this.

I made sure to take them next door to see the great outdoor fireplace made by the neighbour's son.

Don’s fireplace, built by his son.  Don is on a ladder at upper left.

We next drove south to Pink Poppy Farm, where we were greeted by garden owner Lynn who had a little time before going to work.  In the circle garden inside the front gate, a flower was admired.  A friend had given Lynn the seeds, and she gave me some.  She said she was told it is a “South African pearl daisy…Arctotis grandis”.

cool plant

cool plant

As always happens, I saw new details in the garden this time around, like this pile of ingredients as one comes around the side toward the chicken palace.

good stuff

good stuff

Of course, the garden club was wowed by the Imperial Chicken Palace.

new container holder in front of chicken palace

new container holder in front of chicken palace

clever idea for attractive display of big plastic pots

clever idea for attractive display of big plastic pots

The Imperial Chicken Palace

The Imperial Chicken Palace

palace

admiring the Chicken Palace

the happy girls

talking to the happy chickens

Onward across the rolling lawns, we progressed to the poly tunnels.  The ladies were a little worried about their nice shoes.  It was not from watering that the grass was wet; there had been a very heavy dew.  As someone who is always dressed for one occasion, gardening, this is not a problem I had even thought of in advance.

across the dewy lawn

across the dewy lawn

medium poly tunnel

medium poly tunnel

the other side (north door) of the medium tunnel

the other side (north door) of the medium tunnel

admiring the nasturtium arbour

admiring the nasturtium arbour

the big poly tunnel

the big poly tunnel

The wonders of the produce in the poly tunnels completely chased away thoughts of damp shoes.

in the poly tunnel

in the poly tunnel

lemon cukes

lemon cukes

in the big poly tunnel

in the big poly tunnel

the littlest poly tunnel

the littlest poly tunnel

There is a spare house in the back of the property (east end) by which this little tunnel sits.  It lacks electricity, but I have told Lynn that she is lucky I like my own garden so much or they might find me squatting there, I love Pink Poppy Farm so very much!

sunflowers on the empty house

sunflowers on the empty house

We made our way across to the north side of the property and the garden shed gardens.

admiring the sweet peas

admiring the sweet peas

Hm, their sweet peas were not a failure like mine!  These look like mine looked last year, darn it!

club

something else I had missed till now

something else I had missed till now

shed

shed

swing set bean trellis

swing set bean trellis

more sunflowers

more sunflowers

shed detail

shed detail

above the garage

above the garage

pumphouse and "pollies"

pumphouse and “pollies”

steps down to patio

steps down to patio

leaving in a happy mood

leaving in a happy mood

Next: a garden club reprise of more tour gardens.

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After a detailed viewing of each area and plant in Tom and Judy’s garden, Ann brought her garden club four doors east to walk through our garden.  We began with everyone smelling the peanut butter foliage fragrance of Melianthus major (South African honey bush) by the sidewalk fence.  (Some have dared to say it smells like old socks, but I tell you, it smells just like peanut butter!)

Melianthus major

Melianthus major

The tour of fragrance continued with the low, lemony smelling Santolina (lavender cotton) next to the driveway.  I realize that in many cases I will grow a quiet little plant specifically for its fragrance (although I also do love the look of Santolina’s silver, green or chartreuse foliage).

sniffing santolina

sniffing santolina

along the front path

along the front path

in the front garden

in the front garden

Foreground, above:  a tall Eryngium (sea holly) in blue, another Eryngium in silver-blue, and chartreuse Nicotiana langsdorfii.

between house and shed

Between house and shed…

several club members took photos of this scene,

several club members took photos of this scene.

“As I gaze upon the garden, my heart grows peaceful, still.

From its colour comes my being, from its spirit comes my will.”

I love putting that quotation by Ryan Gainey in my garden because his video called Creating the Romantic Garden was enormously influential in my choice to buy a garden of my own down here.  (Note: I need to write about that sometime.)

At left corner of photo above, you can see a gardener pausing to examine a “before” photo of the garden.

into the back garden

into the back garden

in the back garden

in the back garden

looking south at the river of hardy Geranium 'Rozanne'

looking south at the river of hardy Geranium ‘Rozanne’

My Rozanne river, inspired by a photograph in a lecture by Adrian Bloom at the Hardy Plant Society study weekend 2010, has been a big success in my garden, blooming from early June through October.  The slide showing Adrian’s own blue Rozanne river might have been why I decided I had to move from my old shady garden to this sunny one.

at the south end of the big flower beds

at the south end of the big flower beds

Everyone had to go past the fire circle to the bogsy woods and look at the fairy doors.

steps to a fairy door

steps to a fairy door

fire circle and bogsy woods

fire circle and bogsy woods

back to the driveway

back to the driveway

photography

photography

As we lingered in the front driveway, one of the club members photographed a frog on a flower…

Frog on Cosmos in front garden

Frog on Cosmos in front garden

Finally, Tom Hornbuckle took two photos of me and Judy; I had remembered them as being taken on post tour day (which is where I posted the other one), but now I realize that they were on this happy garden day.

gardening neighbours

gardening neighbours

It is a real bond being on the garden tour (a bond we also share with Ann of today’s garden club, whose garden was also on the Peninsula tour).  We worried about weeding, new plants, had we spent too much? (no doubt!) and what refreshments to serve, but it was all very worthwhile.

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On August 9th, Ann Skordahl’s garden club from Vancouver toured our garden and Tom and Judy Hornbuckle’s garden four houses down.  Ann’s garden was also on the garden tour this year.  Every year, her club visits a couple of weeks later to see the gardens that were her favourites on the year’s tour. This club had, in the past, been welcome guests at my old garden and my mother’s garden.

entering Tom and Judy's front garden

entering Tom and Judy’s front garden

In the photos of the club touring the Hornbuckle garden, you can see not only how lovely and well maintained the garden is, but how much fun it is to have an appreciative and knowledgeable group come to visit one’s garden.

On a tiny lot, similar to the small lots that might be found in a city, Tom and Judy have created an impeccable garden with several microclimates, a collection of Japanese maples, two courtyard areas and a collection of carefully chosen annuals and perennials.  Tom mows his lawn every three days in the growing season, and it is simply perfect.

Tom talks lawns

Tom talks lawns

down the west side

down the west side

into the driveway

into the driveway

admiring the porch

admiring the porch

the porch

the porch

photo time

photo time

garden club friends

garden club friends

around the east side

around the east side

on the east side

on the east side

admiring

admiring

front garden again

front garden again

happy garden dance

happy garden dance

explaining how it's done

explaining how it’s done

and off they go...four doors down to our garden.

and off they go…four doors down to our garden.

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