Monday, May 12, 2014

2014 Pence Gallery Garden Tour, Davis, CA (part 3 of 3)

In part 1 and 2 of my coverage of the 2014 Pence Gallery Garden Tour I highlighted the two gardens I liked the best. The other four gardens weren’t up my alley. While each property had individual features I responded to positively, they lacked the wow factor for me.

Mind you, this is a purely personal thing; I’m in no way belittling the amount of thought and planning that went into each garden. I’m a big believer in diversity, so even if I don’t love a garden, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the work that was done there.

GARDEN 3

140504_PenceGardenTour_garden3_pano

WHAT I LIKED:

The garden was filled with spring flowers, which seemed to put visitors in a cheerful mood. I liked the large mounded bed in the photo above.

140504_PenceGardenTour_garden3_006

Another plus: The vegetable garden. Rarely do you see a “real” vegetable garden in Davis since most lots are small. This property, however, is almost an acre, so there is enough room. The owner is a Master Gardener, and it shows. His vegetable garden was impeccably groomed and organized.

140504_PenceGardenTour_garden3_003

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:

Way too much lawn. I don’t hate lawns; I think they have their place, both in terms of design (they act as negative space to counterbalance other elements) and usability (there’s nothing like a lawn for kids to play on). But it seems to me that larger properties often end up with too much lawn, either because the designer ran out of ideas or because it appears to be the most cost-effective solution.

The situation is a bit like retirement: Some people have difficulty filling their time when they retire. Similarly, some homeowners who find themselves with a large lot don’t quite know what to do with it. If you’re in that situation, please read Lawn Gone!: Low-Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives for Your Yard by Austin, TX based garden designer and blogger Pam Penick.

140504_PenceGardenTour_garden3_011

GARDEN 4

140504_PenceGardenTour_garden5_pano

WHAT I LIKED:

I’m not a pool guy, but this one looked very inviting. But what I really liked was the pool house. It would make the perfect home office and/or guest house.

140504_PenceGardenTour_garden5_008

I also liked the wildflower meadow behind the pool house. Even though it technically was the Asian Fairy Garden, described in the program as “a hodge-podge of styles and functions that blend the yin and yang of the family,” the photo above reminds me more of a French country garden.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:

This garden tries to incorporate too many styles and ideas. There is a rose garden adorned with crucifixes, angels and an assortment of other heavenly creatures…

140504_PenceGardenTour_garden5_015

…a formal boxwood knot garden with a statue of a male nude…

140504_PenceGardenTour_garden5_003

…the aforementioned Asian Fairy Garden, raised mounds with Japanese maples, a poolside relaxation garden, a palm island, as well as a small lake and waterfall replete with a wooden bridge.

And there was an enormous lawn in the middle of the property. Maybe I’m not used to thinking in such grand terms, but for me it was just too much.

140504_PenceGardenTour_garden5_014

GARDEN 5

WHAT I LIKED:

140504_PenceGardenTour_garden4_pano

I loved the Mission-style architecture of the house, especially from the front. The front landscaping is both appropriate for the style of the house and mindful of our parched climate. The big boulders and olive trees are fantastic. However, I was disappointed not to see a single agave, yucca, nolina, dasylirion, etc. They would be perfect for this space, adding much-needed visual interest.

140504_PenceGardenTour_garden4_012

140504_PenceGardenTour_garden4_004

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:

The backyard looked too sparse and lacked the wow factor. I suspect it’s a work in progress and more plants will be added. Again, there is a lot of room for desert plants that would thrive in the heat and wouldn’t need much water.

140504_PenceGardenTour_garden4_008

There was a distinct lack of privacy. The fences were low and completely see-through. All they do was keep out the neighbor’s dog but they don’t shield you from prying eyes. I would feel too exposed here. (In all fairness, it’s possible that this type of fencing is mandated by the homeowners association.)

140504_PenceGardenTour_garden4_011

And finally: Too much lawn. Again.

140504_PenceGardenTour_garden4_007

GARDEN 6

While properties 1-5 were fairly new and upscale, #6 was refreshingly unassuming. Located in a rural area five miles outside of town, this five-acre property is a gentleman’s ranch complete with horses, chickens and who knows what else. One acre is landscaped.

WHAT I LIKED:

I liked how down to earth everything was. This pair of weathered Adirondack chairs symbolizes the relaxed nature of the place.

140504_PenceGardenTour_garden6_001

No themed gardens with prancing statuary, just a couple of metal lizards on the wall.

140504_PenceGardenTour_garden6_025

Instead, perennials growing in naturalized drifts.

140504_PenceGardenTour_garden6_017

Bamboos in half barrels next to an elevated deck built into a tree.

140504_PenceGardenTour_garden6_005

A fire circle with well-worn redwood furniture.

140504_PenceGardenTour_garden6_009

More seating along a dry-creek garden filled with colorful perennials

140504_PenceGardenTour_garden6_003

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:

There really wasn’t anything I didn’t like. But somehow I had expected to be wowed and I wasn’t. No matter how hard I try, I can’t put my finger on it. I guess it’s just a matter of personal preference.

While I love visiting gardens that bowl me over with their design or plant palette, I do take away something useful even from gardens that don’t speak to me. Like in art, there is no right or wrong when it comes to garden design. Understanding why something doesn’t appeal to you can help you sharpen your personal focus so you can create exactly the garden you want.

RELATED POSTS:

8 comments:

  1. I like your analysis and you make valid points on both sides. Seeing other peoples gardens, taking points of both their positive and negative bits makes you more aware of your own. Inspiration is not just about taking note of what you want but also what to avoid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love modern art as a genre but that doesn't mean I like everything that is produced. The same goes for architecture and garden design. Understanding why you dislike something is as important as knowing why you respond positively to something else.

      Delete
  2. Which garden was Warren Roberts?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great post with valuable commentary. I need to break away from working in my own garden and get out and see some of our open gardens soon, I've got a whole book with multiple opens every weekend. Must get started!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great post! Great that you point out what you like and don't like about each of the gardens. It's always fun to see what other gardeners are doing!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love this post. The likes and dislikes! No lawn and they were HUGE! No 6 was my fav!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yes, I've been to a lot of gardens with a reeeeally biiiiig lawn. Perfectly right for kids of any age who like to get out there and play ball, but otherwise...why?

    ReplyDelete