Wednesday, April 6, 2011

2011 Tour Host Garden Pick of the Week

This week's pick blended edibles, chickens, and bees into a great looking garden.

A contributing writer to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Home and Garden section, Scott gardens with a sense of style and taste. He tore out the large concrete
 slab in back and recycled 9 tons of rubble. Then, he laid down a permeable patio built with reused bricks. Scott believes in “doing something with every spot of dirt” and his backyard is intensively planted. Short frequent watering keep the shallow rooted azaleas, rhododendrons and ferns looking lush without using a lot of water. He shares his garden with 2 chickens, 2 beehives, herons that eat the gold fish from the pond, and the Cooper’s hawks that hunt the squirrels that steal HIS oranges.

When Scott moved to the neighborhood, he was disappointed with the lack of pollinating insects and the poor fruit set on his trees, so he became a backyard beekeeper. The bees inspired him to change his gardening practices and stop using synthetic pesticide, herbicide or fertilizer. His garden is now exceptionally productive, and Scott founded a neighborhood garden exchange for neighbors to share produce, labor, and expertise. Every summer, Scott hosts a jam swap party to celebrate the art of growing fruit for home-canned jam.

This garden is part of the San Leandro cluster on the Alameda County tour, which also includes clusters in Berkeley/Albany, Castro Valley, Hayward, Livermore/Sunol, and Oakland. There will also be clusters in Napa, and Santa Clara counties. Tours are scheduled for Sunday, May 1 in Napa, and Sunday, May 15 in Alameda and Santa Clara Counties.

Register today to receive a tour guidebook with garden descriptions and directions; cost is $10 per guidebook. Register by April 24, 2011 for Napa gardens, and register by May 6, 2011 for Alameda and Santa Clara gardens. Space is limited so sign up early.

-Ben Duggan, regular contributor

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