This morning started with an airport run and a goodbye to our daughter and granddaughter who were here for a few days. My three and a half year old sweetie helped me out in the garden while she was here. Such a joy.
Then we realized, oh yeah, today's the garden tour, something that always stirs the gardening juices and gives me at least a few new ideas.
This year's tour was different from past tours.
First, there were four gardens in Eagle River (about 15 miles out of town) and three in east Anchorage.
Second, there was an institutional garden unlike any I've seen in Anchorage.
We decided to shoot out to Eagle River and then hit the ones along Muldoon.
Our first stop had a bad start. There was a big red political sign for a representative who was too conservative for the Republican Party's taste. (They kicked her out of the majority.) But I think any political statement like that, no matter the party or candidate, is out of place. Yes people have the right to put up signs, but the garden club has a right not to use their home if there is a sign. The homeowner can take the sign down for five hours or choose not to participate.
The Eagle River gardens had some interesting features - a big rock covered hill in one, a formal set of
landscaped walls that the garden club rep said was build to keep the driveway from collapsing, some windows place here and there in the garden, and the POPPIES. The poppies were in our last ER garden. The individual flowers were so light and graceful and delicate and the colors were wonderful. But you can see for yourself.
They were perfect. The shapes, the colors, the folds, and curves. Looking at them was like a meditation.
The poppy yard - these were actually only a small portion of the garden - was my favorite of the Eagle River gardens. This wasn't a show garden, but a garden of love. We talked to the gardner and it was clear that she just liked making all this stuff flourish. She wasn't spending lots of money, but she was rescuing and rehabilitating. My kind of garden.
And then we headed back to town. The first stop was just off of Muldoon - the inner courtyard at St. Patrick's Church.
Or, as the brochure says, "The Cloister at St. Patrick's."
This is a place you would never bump into. You almost have to already know where you are going.
That brochure also says:
"The Cloister is intended to be a place of pilgrimage for all Christians - and for anyone who is seeking a place of prayer and inspiration, a place of peace in the midst of life's struggles, or a place where they can more deeply encounter the living God - who is love."
The Cloisters, as you can see, are angular and the gardens confined within this elegant concrete and glass space. There are several water features. The brochure calls them 'fountains' which conflicts with my notion of water shooting up. Here it moves horizontally and down. Being able to say "The Holy Spirit has called the people of St. Patrick's to undertake a major building project . . ." surely must have helped when raising the money to build this space.
You can also spend eternity here.
I'm glad we save the Cloister and the two houses east of Muldoon for last. They were both unique gardens that looked like everything had been there a while. They combined local plants and settings with more traditional garden varieties. One had recycled mirrors all around the backyard which gave guests extra views of the plants. And other stray items, like bowling balls.
The last house we visited, a few doors past the mirrors, was a quiet and lovely garden that backs onto the military base forest. I was taken by the leaves on the false sunflower - which turned out to be Sunburst Heliopsis.
A thought that's been bubbling to the surface these last couple of years is for the garden club to change the date of the tour in the future. By always being at the end of July/beginning of August, the tour highlights the same flowers and neglects those flowers that bloom earlier in the summer. But I also realize that more things are likely to be blooming now. Perhaps and end of June preview for the big tour.