Yesterday I visited some gardens just by myself, knowing that kid-attention for this sort of thing is limited, and some gardens are only open on Saturday or Sunday, but not both. I reserved Julian's attention for the two I knew I'd want to see on Sunday.
Ironically, the first garden I wanted to see wasn't far at all: our own school's garden. 4 years ago, a group of volunteers at our school transformed a dull strip of dirt into a thriving habitat, filled with native plants and other hard features (boulders, logs and painted rocks), and formed a garden club for kids. The school community maintains the garden, leads tours, and decorates it with painted rocks and all sorts of informational plaques. It's really a labor of love and such a nice thing for a school -- especially ours -- to have!
It turns out that Gabriel's teacher, and his now-pregnant wife, a 2nd-grade teacher at the school too, are very involved in this garden. So though we can see it anytime, it was worth going today to talk to the garden hosts, see photo displays of how this garden came about, and do a scavenger hunt. Julian was so into finding every last thing on Gabriel's teacher's typically very thorough lists meant we were there for over an hour (and I have the sunburn to prove it!)
Julian had a great time at this garden, asking questions of the teachers/gardeners, finding things, noticing what was related, looking at the butterfly identification cards. Then we went around and picked up garbage, because there's a constant flow of wrappers and paper that get blown in from the lunch area. It was a rare Good Mom moment for me.
Then we went to another garden/home we'd been to two years ago, that I'd found was the most spectacular one there is, and it still is. I was blown away -- I want my "garden" to look like this! It's really beautiful and so diverse, with so many different sorts of plants and spaces. Lots of manzanitas too, my favorite.
The homeowner here is involved with a local native-plant nursery though, so it's related to his business as well as his passion. He has at least 5 manzanitas, for example, not always easy to come by, and they're pretty big. Most home gardens are not this beautifully designed or mature or diverse; most are more like how mine will be, a smattering of plants left to their own devices. This one is really a showpiece. He even named certain areas, like "Puppy Dog Path" or "Manzanita Trail" and put up nice little wooden signs.
The rest of the day, I was a total slug -- fighting a headache and procrastinating on numerous pressing chores, like filing my Dad's late taxes, getting airline tickets for a trip to Vancouver, cleaning out the garage, and a few work items. Ah yes, and planting some new plants I just bought at the garden tour. I'm totally hooked on these beautiful, scrubby, hardy sorts of plants and these so-not-showcase gardens, devoid of law and order and just a fabulous display of fauna. But I also like bumming around on Sunday afternoons too.