Gardens Around Town

  In spite of our relatively pleasant climate and long growing season there does not seem to be a lively horticultural community here in the Napa Valley- at least not one that trickles down from estate gardens to the average homeowner. Growing produce is certainly popular , and some of the restaurants and winerys have beautiful vegetable gardens that dovetail with the foodie culture that is an inevitable sidecar to the wine industry. Ornamental plants don't always get that much attention.
   The gardens in my own neighborhood are not really gardens; they are very mundane down-sized version of commercial landscapes maintained by mow-blow firms that really know nothing about plants, hired by homeowners who are similarly ignorant, and who assume the 'gardener' they hire is using best practices. I really struggle with not allowing the dumbing down of the suburban landscape to depress me. The constant drone of power equipment almost every day of the week with the need to remove every leaf and every twig from the ground, the tortured shrubs with blooms sacrificed in favor of the sterile cube or rectangle...don't get me started.

As gardeners are wont to do, I always have my eyes open for interesting landscapes in the course of walking or driving around town, and there are a few neighborhoods that I visit often to check on the progress of my personal favorite gardens in the city.I am resolving to seek out more of these gardens next year-so far the best ones seem to be in the older pre-tract housing neighborhoods.

 I have three gardens to share today. This house is in our 'old town' neighborhood and I suspect was a large bungalow from the early 1900's remodeled to clean contemporary lines. I am usually in favor of honoring the integrity of the original architecture but the owners did a beautiful job on this house and they sealed the deal with great plantings . My photos were taken in haste and really don't do it justice.






 This house is in another older neighborhood called the 'letter streets' or 'alphabet streets' that has been undergoing a fair amount of gentrification. I feel conflicted about this- the houses in this neighborhood are small and interesting and need to be preserved , but even the modest fixer-uppers are beyond the price range of many. The Zestimate for this 1200 square foot house is about 550k.





 This  garden has clearly been here for some time, but I only became aware of it in the last couple of years. I haven't found another succulent-centric garden in this city to rival it. Because we sometimes dip into the 20's overnight, there are many succulents that are marginal here, and I have seen frost blankets draped over the Aloes from time to time. Whoever these people are, they know enough to protect the Aloes !







 I hope everyone is enjoying their winter holiday. The rain is supposed to hold off for the New Year so I have plans to get the rose pruning started , and the fall clean-up completed. We have had rain but that inevitably means weeds and they are popping up everywhere. And I have 350  tulips in the fridge. They need to be planted soon.

Comments

  1. Three hundred and fifty tulips! I look forward to seeing those. Even properly chilled prior to planting, I've never had much success with them here - the Santa Ana winds always seem to return at just the right time to take the majority of them out before they bloom. Your selected gardens are choice. I know what you mean by the lack of a garden culture, though, as the same is true here. While I've photographed gardens in my immediate neighborhood I've yet to wander much further afield out of the concern that someone will post an alert on Next Door about a "suspicious woman with a camera" seemingly casing houses and call the sheriff's department. I know I don't look very threatening but hysteria seems close to the surface here - and that bothersome ex-neighbor with the tree issues DID stop 2 of my visitors once to question them about why they were here!

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    1. Tulips are my extravagance. As long as we don't have a March heatwave I should be good ! They are such a festive antidote to the rain and cold. I try to be discreet about taking photos of people gardens- I usually try to do it just around sunrise on Sunday mornings when everyone is still asleep or else on a weekday when everyone is at work.

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  2. Nice finds! I’m surprised at the Zestimate (ha! What a word), I would have guessed higher. That doesn’t seem all that different from Portland pricing.

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    1. I think this was one of the lower prices in that neighborhood. There is not a single house on the market in this neighborhood right now, so bidding wars are possible. Portland is even gaining a rep in Calif for lack of affordability -and your property taxes-yikes !!!

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  3. Love those agaves! The cost of real estate is soaring all over the west coast. Crazy.

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    1. Nothing quite like a pristine Agave is there. Thank god I am grandfathered in to west coast real estate.

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  4. Yeah, that real estate pricing is similar to Long Beach. Maybe I should move? ;) I just planted my total of 6 tulips yesterday . Love seeing more of your 'hood!

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    1. 6 tulips-each one will be appreciated for it's rarity !

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  5. That next-to-last photo is particularly fine. Every element sets off the spiky central star: the broad, curvy arms of the variegated agave, the dark background and tree limbs, and the rosy brick pillars leading up to red foliage (beautiful "borrowed scenery", all the more marvelous for being a fleeting phenomenon). Thanks for the visit to some choice gardens! May their numbers increase in the new year.

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    1. Thanks Nell, I will be checking out less visited neighborhoods this year hoping to find some gems.

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  6. Love all the thoughts and ideas expressed in this post.

    I realized that while my area is a garden wasteland (desert?) made of concrete, brown lawns and light-colored gravel (the most common replacement for lawn), I had renamed favorite streets that I tour in season: Del Mar becomes Crape Myrtle Drive in fall, also in fall there is Sweet Gum Street (Ross Ave. in Alhambra) and Huntington Drive becomes Ginkgo Boulevard around the first week in December. One of the best of all is the Jacaranda Tunnel in spring on Fremont near Main St, Alhambra.

    Where I live the price for that size house is just the same as yours which surprises me because i would have thought Napa Valley to be higher.

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    1. Jane the higher prices are here but dependent on proximity to a vineyard or lot size.. If those folks looked over their back fence to a winery property you'd be looking as 7 figures. I love your naming device !

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