This year the Decatur Garden Tour switched things up and had their event in spring instead of autumn. I know, you're thinking garden tours are for the snooty, but you're only sort of right. While one of the gardens is owned by a designer of that sort that might end sentences with "dahling" and does, in fact, dress as eccentrically as he can manage and did think it was gauche when Steve and Jeremiah brought their own beer with them when they volunteered at his garden taking tickets a few years ago, that dude's in a very lonely minority. I love the garden tour because I am politely voyeuristic (I won't look in your medicine cabinet, but I want to see your crown moldings). I love to see what plants grow well in spots similar to my own yard so I can steal other people's creative ideas. (I learned in college that good artists borrow, but great artists steal. Oddly enough, that was in my physics class.)
Jeremiah and I always volunteer to take tickets for the tour because in so doing, we score our own free tickets, but also because the homeowners are almost always really fun. The last time I volunteered, I ended up with a time slot that coincided with a tremendous storm. My eye doctor and his family came through, but that was really about it. The owners of that house were also preparing to have a little gathering with their neighbors (why waste a catalogue-beautified yard?) right after the tour that day. Since things came mostly to a halt with the storm, they started their party early. I was given a great deal of wine and food, and I met all the neighbors on that street and every one of them was delightful and interesting. No kidding, they really were. I was a little buzzed when I got home. How often can you say that after a garden tour?
This year we volunteered at the home of a couple who are also extremely kind and fun to chat with. They have an awesome Teardrop camper, big enough for two to snuggle in, with a little kitchenette in the back. Everyone who came to see the garden lingered to admire the Teardrop. Matt, one of the owners, made us lattes and had baked muffins for the volunteers. We learned all about the process they went through to build their little garden, which is filled with love and general peacefulness. This is the feeling you get in most of the gardens - the care with which each gardener has created a space that allows them to relax and feel good about life on earth. Only one garden this year kind of blew, but they can't all be winners, right? The thing that wasn't right in that garden was that it had clearly been thrown in when the house was built (last year) and it was devoid of spirit. The homeowners had not lovingly tended to it. No plant in that garden had been gifted to them by a friend who had fun stuff to split. It was just there, having previously just been at Home Depot. How very sad* but at least for this tour, it's also very unusual.
*It turns out those homeowners were talked into being on the tour against their will. Reportedly they said "it's not even really ours, it's our landscaper's" and...it's a flood plain, they're just trying to put something there to keep the water busy. Why someone would think it was a good idea to put that space on tour, I do not know.