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A Gardener’s Passion

Welcome To The 2018 Park Hill Garden Walk

By Jean Ercolani

Garden Walk Marketing Chair

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 The 2018 Park Hill Garden Walk is around the corner. Whether you are looking for inspiration or just want to enjoy a day outside walking through beautiful gardens, Sunday, June 24 will not disappoint.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a few of the gardeners and talking with them about their special spaces.

Not surprisingly, a common trait is the overall passion for the outdoors, nature and wildlife. For some it is things in their yard that remind them of their childhood or other great memories. For others it is the joy of watching their yard come to life, and watching the birds, butterflies and bees flutter around.

Some gardeners call themselves “accidental gardeners,” while others have used professional landscapers to help guide the way. Here’s a little more insight into a few of our gardeners and their passion for wonderful outdoor spaces.

Question: What was the inspiration for your garden design?

One couple said their inspiration started the first time they looked at their house. The giant tree in the backyard reminded them of where they were married – Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley, Calif.  “A creative haven that stirs all the senses, Carmel Valley blends nature’s majesty with man’s artistry.” They were also inspired by their Caribbean and European backgrounds, including bright colors, fragrance and shady spaces.

Common with all the gardeners was a desire to have good entertainment areas. Stamped concrete, stone and brick act as the foundations, while various pergola styles are used to help define the spaces. Each gardener uses yard art to reflect their personalities and interests. This art is often repurposed material used in very creative ways. Things that a lot of people might just put in the trash have been reinvented in fun, quirky and amazing ways.

Whether their inspiration was driven by a tree, a patio area, a raised garden bed, repurposed materials, animals or plants in general, for all it is about “making the space better.”

Question: What is your favorite place in your garden and why?

The common theme is a love of entertaining friends and family. Whether that’s a barbeque for a group or just sharing a glass of wine with a friend, the gardeners enjoy having an outdoor space that is warm and welcoming.

Their favorite place is also dependent on the time of day and the season. One couple enjoys hanging out on their front porch until the sun gets too intense, then they move to the backyard. One person likes sitting on the edge of her raised garden bed and admiring the growth of her crops. Others like the social aspect – people often stop and talk with them while they are out working in their yard.

To enter the yard at one of the homes, you go through a gate that keeps the yard hidden until you walk through. The homeowners love the element of surprise. It is a favorite of their guests as well. The gate opens to a large, beautiful space that simply takes your breath away. It is spectacular.

One woman told me she envisions her daughters getting married in their yard and often pictures herself walking them down the brick path.

Question: What do people notice most about your garden?

The answers spanned the gamut, from a small specific place in the yard to the entire area and the beautiful backdrop it offers from the house and the entertainment space. For all, their yards are an extension of their homes, providing different living spaces to enjoy.

One home has a hammock in an out-of-the-way place in the yard. The owner often finds guests in the hammock, just enjoying a private moment.

Since all of our gardeners share a love of entertaining, that portion of their yards is a focal-point for each space. These spaces are welcoming, comfortable and offer a sense of tranquility. Each has its own personality and reflects the interests and character of the homeowners.

Question: What words of wisdom can you share with people who want to create their own special garden?

In a word … patience! Every person I spoke with talked about the need for patience when it comes to the garden. One person said, “It’s the opposite of instant gratification.”

Think about how you are going to use your yard and what elements are important to you and then prioritize. Is a vegetable garden more important than a flowerbed? Is the entertainment space the primary purpose? Do you want water features? Do you want a more open space or smaller private areas? Do you want a barrier from the street? Do you want low-maintenance landscaping? Do you want drought-tolerant plants? What’s your budget?

Even if you are a do-it-yourselfer, everyone recommends at least consulting with a professional landscaper. Pros can help you in ways you don’t even think about. They understand the environment and will work within your wish list and budget.

Start with trees. Buy them as big as you can afford and have them professionally planted. They take at least three years to settle in and show their potential. They also provide a focal point. Then, layer. It brings depth and interest to the space.

Take the time to see what’s missing. Do you need more color? Do you want plants that will attract birds? Think about how you use your yard, how you want it to feel and what’s missing to make that happen.

Lastly … Enjoy your garden!

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