The Green, Green Grass of Some Other Home

I got some coffee at Avo's and while looking for a place to write, I happened upon Sue Forebucks and Seymour Sharpe talking in a booth. "Doing anything special this weekend?" asked Seymour as I sat down.

"Just going on the Junior League's Terrace and Garden Tour on Saturday," I said.

"Me too," said Sue. "Are you also going to the Friday night show at the Lincoln Center?" She must have noted the look of confusion on my face so she pulled out her booklet which is also the ticket for the tour and read me the particulars. "The tour will be officially kicked off at a special program Friday night when Lauren Springer will give a slide show and presentation."

"Her book, The Undaunted Gardener, is really good and full of useful plants for this part of Colorado," I said, "and I'm sure the talk will be good. But I need to see plants in-the-flesh so to speak, see how they contribute color and shape to the total landscape. Books and pictures don't provide the hands-on connection to the ambiance that I need to decide if the plants and arrangement suit my personality."

"I went on a tour a few years ago," said Seymour, "but it was too crowded and I could barely move around the yards. Seems like you're better off going to the Botanic Gardens in Denver or the one in Steamboat Springs."

"Depends on what you're looking for," I said. "When you're tramping through a private family garden with a thousand other people, then it doesn't seem so private and you can certainly see why public gardens must be designed differently than your own. But I've fantasized about my yard being on the tour -- we actually have terraces in our vegetable garden -- and realized that the narrow, woodsy path to the backyard is far too small for people to pass each other on, but in normal usage by just family and friends, there a coziness to that area that you would never find in a large public space."

"I thought some of the gardens were too antiseptic," said Seymour.

"Well I'm not too impressed with the newly-installed, professionally designed gardens," said Sue. "And some things are a bit odd to my taste, but I like seeing how a regular-sized yard can have different flora in various places to create special nooks and crannies. On one of the first tours I went on, a fairly new house had a nice aspen grove with underbrush that seemed as if it were in the mountains, so we decided to put something like that in our yard. Then we added a stream later after seeing several of them with interesting thymes and other ground covers that looked like the alpine tundra ecology."

"Well I know I'd never create any fancy gardens," said Seymour. "Seems like you'd have to spend all your time and money on them."

"I remember thinking that very same thing when I first started taking the tour," I said. "But then we got a few gardens started and found what grew in our soil under the sort of care we give. As certain plants proliferated, we just took cuttings and spread the good stuff to other parts. Just last year, I put in a new rock garden along the driveway with cuttings and irises I took from elsewhere in the yard. And I gave away three carloads of irises to coworkers. I believe I spent four dollars on four new plants, ones I'd seen on a tour, just to try them out."

"I've been both your yards," said Seymour. "They're full of gardens. Why would you still want to go on the tour?"

Sue and I answered in unison. "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence."