Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Garden Tour

The weather which has been on a continuous rollercoaster mode relented Sunday for the Proud Neighbors House and Garden Tour. Although it sprinkled in the morning, we were spared from any rain during the entire 5 hours of the tour; however, it was sweater weather. First to arrive were two volunteers who came to drop off supplies and place the garden tour sign and bows to indicate participation to the visitors. Just before noon, two young lady volunteers and their adult supervisor arrived to take tickets and greet guests for the first shift. Later, two young men would take the closing shift. As you might be able to figure out, it takes a well organized and caring community to put on this kind of an event.

Two dear friends came to supply moral support, answer questions and photograph the event. I knew that I would be greeting and talking with visitors and wanted to have a different way of later remembering the event. Julia Coombs and Vori Kriaris took turns at recording the garden and the day's events. I am indebted to their great appreciation of the garden, their different sensibilities and how wonderfully they photographed it and me.

You might note I am slightly older that the profile image with my dog Taxi. She was very much part of this garden and it is hard of think of one without the other. As a tribute to her I use that dated image when we were both a little friskier.

The garden was bursting at the seam with flowers. The roses have started their first flush. Although all plants are not in bloom yet there were enough plants to wow the visiting public. The threat of weather kept some people away so the numbers were less than expected. This was also due to difficulty that not everyone manages to see it all. In five hours, visitors were expected to see six houses and four gardens spread out around all over town. Some came by their own vehicles, others walked and others used the trolleys that visited all the locations. As I said before: this is well organized! All in all, I figured we had slightly less than four hundred people in the garden. By the end of the day I was exhausted.

The visitors were great, and thrilled with fragrant roses in a world that has gotten accustomed to the lesser fragrant varieties. The roses in my garden are mainly of Austin, Meidiland and Guillot varieties. These are English and French in origin and are based on hybridizing antique roses that have such beautiful flower shapes and fragrances. I also have a few antique roses and all are fragrant. I don't spray for anything and just use compost as to fertilize (and do very little of that). I will identify as many roses as I can. There are many, some which have lost their tags and others which the gray cells in my brain fail to remember anymore.

More people were interested in what they did not know rather than what they knew. They marveled at the roses but really focused on a few plants that are not used as much in gardens these days. As a consequence the number one question involved Weigela, followed by Amsonia hubrichtii, a Missouri native commonly referred to as Blue star.

There are many photos of the day's events in the blog but there are many more that display the talents of my two friends at http://picasaweb.google.com/renelctorres

Vori's Dreamy look of my cottage

Visitors queuing to enter
One of two Rhodies framing the house

Entrance to wooded garden

Wooded plantings Solomon's Seal and Hay Scented fern

Main garden with two lucky visitors who got it to themselves

Weigela is a hardy deciduous flowering shrub it comes in a variety of species some can grow as large as 15 feet massing. Mine are medium size at about 5 feet balls, I have three which I bought in a grocery in one of those plastic packages used to peddle cheap roses. These were cheap and have grown into marvelous plants that bloom like fountains and of small trumpet-looking non-fragrant flowers. They are pest free and require no fancy upkeep other than a heavy pruning every three years or so. They are originally from Asia, but have been in gardens for sometime. I suspect that in Victorian times they hit their peak of fashion that has long petered out. Today you find them in fancy catalogue that are always looking to make a statement with something new and good nurseries that know plants.

Baptisia australis (False indigo)

Greeting and answering questions with Garden Visitors (I am the one wearing red pants)

Amsonia hubrichtii or Blue Star is a perennial plant hybridized out of an American Native to Missouri and other midwestern states. The leaves are narrow and feathery and grow that grow in clumps. The stems get up to about three feet. The flowers have the slightest tinge of blue that appear along the stems. The show comes in fall when they turn all shades of gold and brighten any corner of the garden. These are pretty hardy and disease and pest free. The nicest display I know is at Chanticleer Garden in Wayne where they line a circle that separates the parking areas. Mine were a gift from one of their gardeners.

Austin's Gertrude Jekyll

Meidiland's Madame Curie

Visitors catching a little fragrance

My friend Vori forcing a shot

Austin's Heritage

Austin's Abraham Darby

I don't know any of my irises. They were gifts from many collectors who are as passionate and as confused as me.

More questions and answers and nice conversations

Dreamy shots

Julia's masterpiece photo of Acorus in the pond (Yellow Flag)

Julia and Vori having fun before the visitors arrived

After the Visitors departed. Guess who?

Proud Neighbors sharing stories and nourishment at the end of the day


  1. SPECTACULAR! I'm thrilled that so many people got to see your handiwork. It is always a pleasure to visit your garden.

  2. Anonymous02 June, 2009

    Next year I have to visit your garden. Thanks for sharing online so that I could get a hint of the pleasure.