In May of 2015, and again in 2017, I indulged my love of gardens close to home, touring 6 chosen for the annual fundraiser to benefit the local chapter of Soroptimist International. I’d missed the 2016 event, visiting as many as I was able to squeeze into my weeks in England and though there are none better in the world, still, there’s no place like home. And, along with the gardens, the tours get me to neighborhoods in my own community that are off my usual path and I’m always surprised at what I find down country roads and off in the woods of Nevada County. This year’s Spring Garden Tour was a milestone, the 25th, and while not the scale of England’s stately homes’ gardens, I love these intimate expressions of the gardener’s art usually hidden from a stranger’s eyes.
The Park Family Garden, Grass Valley
Though officially designated Garden #2, this was the first one I visited given the route from my house. The emphasis was overwhelmingly on conifers, large and small and many were labeled. Located in a residential area not far from the center of Grass Valley, the variety of plantings belied the compact scale of the garden.
Driving from the garden above to this one on the edge of town means transitioning from city-sized lots to much larger tracts of land. This was an area I'd never visited before and there was an open, spacious feeling to the hillside topography which I think always adds to the interest of plantings. As you can see, California poppies were in full bloom.
The Shewell Garden, Nevada City
Only one garden was within the town limits of Nevada City this year, not far off the main drag in Grass Valley’s neighbor, the Nevada County seat, population about 3000. Nevada City cultivates its historic image and tourists flock to the boutiques and bistros year round. Fine Victorian homes line the lanes that wind around the hillsides and this garden surrounded a beautiful example of the town’s well preserved architecture.
The Krusi Family Garden, Nevada City
The Krusi home is located a couple of miles outside the historic zone in a beautiful area of established larger homes. Blessed with shady areas for woodland plants and also sunny ones for roses and a pool, it's the best of all garden environments.
The Hall Family Garden, Grass Valley
While the address is designated Grass Valley, this garden is on acreage about 4 miles from town. It's apparent immediately on entering the property that gardening is a priority for these homeowners as the area cultivated is enormous. It, too, has wooded areas for shade-loving plants and big open areas for roses and other sun-loving flowers surround an unusual sunken patio.
Rebecca Bleau's Garden, Grass Valley
A 13 mile drive from Grass Valley, Rebecca's garden is in an area of rolling hills, ranches and farms. A small herd of cattle seemed to enjoy all the comings and goings from their enclosure just in front of the home. The garden occupies a compact area in front of the house and adjacent artist's studio, the abundant blooms against the barn-red historic ranch home lending a technicolor aspect to the scene.
If you plan to be in Northern California next spring, check the Soroptimist International of the Sierra Foothills’ website for garden tour information, held the 3rd weekend in May.
More Travel for Garden Lovers here.
And others of PortMoresby’s contributions here.