Gardening Vivian | 07 Feb 2010 05:34 am

Garden Tours – What to Look For in the Landscape

Garden Tour, is its formal name, “garden-hopping” its affectionate nickname. Even if we call it “garden pilgrimage” we will be describing a delightful practice that happens across the country, in small communities as well as large, and providing the gardener with an almost royal road to learning.

Of course some persons take these trips just for the spectacular display of brilliant bloom, but as a serious gardener you will derive more than the enjoyment of the moment if you will use a “seeing eye” and try to understand why each picture pleases so greatly.

As you approach the house, consider whether the plants around it have been chosen merely because they are beautiful specimens or because they emphasize the good points of the house and minimize its poor ones.

The little home with bulky, protruding entrance made even more prominent by a round japanese yew on each side of the doorstep always looked neat and well groomed, but never attractive and home like. The new owner removed the yews, substituted a low ground cover, then planted each of the front corners of the house (not the entrance) with a group of plants that extend well forward onto the lawn. Now the entrance, by contrast, seems set back and sheltered, and welcomes rather than repels.

As necessary as notebook and pencil is a yardstick or tape measure, and the more frequent its use the greater will be the value of your notes. The garden steps that seem so pleasant and effortless to climb will show dimensions quite different from those indoors, for the risers will probably measure no more than five or six inches in height,.with the treads from 12 to 15 inches deep.

As you walk toward the garden in the rear you will note if there is easy access to it through the dining or living room, but those of us who must take our guests through the kitchen need not despair. A few plants and a little ingenuity will make this back entrance more individual and picturesque than the front one.

I recall a back door that opened directly onto the lawn without benefit of porch or even awning. The owner painted it a beautiful shade of blue, then equipped the window beside it with a flower box of the same delphinium hue, and at the other side placed a quaint, English cottage type of bench… blue, of course.

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