Grand and glorious gardens
This has been a summer of visiting grand and glorious gardens. It all started with urging by my friend Ann Peden, who was the co-chair of the Sonoma Master Gardeners Tour, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s a new activity for me. I am not, by any means, a gardener myself.
When I was a child, my parents had a large garden in our home in Eureka. Beyond just the expected vegetables, we had small livestock, including chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits and an occasional turkey. That was in addition to family dogs and cats, plus huge pet toads that helped keep garden bugs at bay.
Despite E.B. White’s comment, “Every garden should have geese, for comic relief,” it was the geese that spoiled my love of gardening. They were mean and wicked and loved to chase young Sylvia around the garden, hissing loudly, wings a-flapping. Their nasty nips were a deterrent to peaceful gardening.
Our family summer home in the Trinity Alps featured a more peaceful garden, devoid of animals — well, if one didn’t count the bears that enjoyed the fruit trees and berries as much as we did.
As an adult, I’ve just never taken joy in gardens as many of my friends do. For me, a garden is a place to enjoy al fresco lunch or to find a pleasant bit of shade to enjoy a good book.
Yet I do enjoy seeing the labors of other gardeners, and these past weeks have provided ample opportunity there.
Misty, moisty cool
Last week, three friends and I ventured south to visit the famous Filoli Gardens in Woodside, just a jaunt south of San Francisco State College on Highway 280. I always thought the unusual name of this garden used the first two letters of the words “fidelity, love and life,” but that’s not so. Turns out Filoli means, “To fight for a just cause; to love your fellow man; to live a good life.”
The day of our visit provided a great relief from triple digit temperatures in Glen Ellen. The peninsula was misty, moisty cool, not quite rain, but cooling fog that made the garden so richly verdant. The lush green provided a lively contrast to our Sonoma golden grasses (which I also admire, as much for their summer aroma, as for the golden light they produce). Ah, but green, it is a most relaxing hue.
Sidney Scholl and I were accompanying the two Mittleman ladies, Dawn Mittleman and her daughter Jessica Nersesian, who both had occasions to celebrate.
It was Jessica’s birthday, and so we four ladies enjoyed Filoli’s formal tea before touring the gardens, the tiny sandwiches and petite desserts just the fortification needed for garden explorations.
As for Dawn, she recently became engaged to Frank Longoria, with a fall wedding planned, so that gave us a second reason to celebrate.
What beautiful gardens: I highly recommend a visit to Filoli. From the peaceful, pale green of the shady olive orchard near the parking lot, to the acres of blooming roses with heady scent, the garden is every bit as spectacular as Butchart Gardens in Victoria, and a whole lot closer.