Friday, November 17, 2006

Sharing the Neighbors Garden

IMG_2750, originally uploaded by kath66.

I am very fortunate to be surrounded on all sides by avid gardeners. My neighbor to the south is the 90-year-old retired gardener of the Palace of the Legion of Honor. He's also a succulent fanatic, and was a prisoner of war during WWII, which he will tell you about every day as he's carefully tending the mini-garden he's planted out front. He sat on a stool every day for a week building a planter from recycled bricks. His masonry isn't perfect, but his gardening is superb so you don't even notice.

But his is not the garden pictured in this photo. In fact, typical of so many urban environments, I don't know who exactly tends to this glorious garden. I never see anyone in it, albeit the plants are so large that they'd hide anyone pretty well who was lovingly mulching the beds. Here their tree dahlia is in full bloom, a good sign that the rainy season is on it's way. Every year for the past six years I can remember watching from the cozy library window as the first storm of the season blew the riot of delicate pink blossoms to and frow on their mile-high stems as they swayed in the wind and rain.

I remember reading how in Japan, where land is tight and gardens tend to be small, the surrounding landscape is always considered and brought into a garden's design providing a distant vista or peekaboo view. I keep wondering if I could make this strategy work for me, as I could certainly used more space, even if it's just an illusion.

The problem is that most of the surrounding gardens share a palette different from mine-- pink, fuchsia, purple, white, and blue-green glaucusy foliage, and a number of plants straddle their fences so they literally share the plants too. In this case two Bouganvilla's, one red one pink, and a pink climbing rose, I think a Cecil Brunner. These are in stark contrast to my deep reds, yellows and oranges. But I am enthralled with watching these gardens nonetheless. Maybe someday I'll even learn the gardeners names...

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