Tuesday, April 12, 2011

2011 Tour Host Garden Pick of the Week

This week's pick is a professionally designed garden with habitat plants that are flourishing because of improvements made to the soil. 

A couple of years ago Carolyn and Bob Heywood looked at their weed-choked lawn and rotting wooden deck and decided their backyard was due for a makeover. Designer and contractor Carolyn Atherton of Carolyn Atherton Gardens, in collaboration with Patrick McMahon of Rock Solid Landscaping, helped them create this beautiful, drought-tolerant, three tiered garden. The bottom patio is shaded by a flowering crabapple tree and stone steps lead to a smaller dining patio with extensive stonework. The upper level features a meadow with a profusion of grasses including miscanthus, pennisetum and carexes. A variety of flowering perennials provide color, movement and texture throughout the year and are surrounded by larger screening shrubs and fruit trees. So many pollinators visit that the grandkids have learned “not to be afraid of bees” while playing in the garden (especially in the chamomile ‘lawn’). 

Lava rock was dug into the heavy clay soil to improve drainage before other amendments were added. As part of the makeover, a large redwood tree that was undermining the foundation of the house had to be removed. About 2 yards of sawdust from the tree removal was mixed with organic cottonseed meal (to ensure enough nitrogen in decomposition) and applied as soil amendment.

This garden is part of the Oakland cluster on the Alameda County tour, which also includes clusters in Berkeley/Albany, Castro Valley, Hayward, Livermore/Sunol, and San Leandro. 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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  2. That is a beautifully landscaped garden. I love the choice of plants and flowers. The colors really liven up the garden.

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  3. The garden's planning is intricate and the choice of plants and flowers are ideal to the climate. I would like to visit the place one day.
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  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.