This year's garden tour felt less like a garden tour and more like a landscape tour. Landscapes are pretty, no doubt, but they lack the heart and soul of a true garden. Turning a landscape into a garden takes so much more than building basic structures: it takes time for plants to grow into their placements, there is art of choosing the best possible plants, and most importantly, the outdoor space must be meaningful to the owner.
The gardens on this year's tour lacked that sense of meaning. Rather, they were lovely landscapes designed by professionals. Most gardens had an over abundance of hardscape, drought tolerant plants, and many had pools. There was very little diversity; we saw the same succulents at many yards, and xeriscaping was the new fashion du jour. Hubby found it very ironic that the pool owners touted the most xeriscaped of the gardens being shown. All the water guzzling plants one could fit in a yard would not waste the amount of water that a pool does.
This tour lacked the show stoppers of year's past. There was no unbelievably mind-blowing Sie Garden terracing (2010) or whimsical canyon trails of the Banta Garden (2009). The 2011 yards felt forced and lacked creativity. The were overly dependent on professionals, which is so antithetical to the do-it-yourself nature of Clairemont. It was Clairemont attempting to be bourgeoise - Clairemont should never attempt to be anything but its wonderful, diverse, blue collar, hard working, diamond-in-the-rough self. And for this false identity portrayed by this garden show, I am most disappointed. I am getting down off my soap box now; time to go work in my own beautiful, messy, DIY garden.
For more garden pictures, please click here.