W on the Garden Tour

Every year I like to go on the local garden tour. Virginia has the oldest garden tour association in the nation, and the Charlottesville & Albemarle chapters of the garden club are always well-represented each year.

In previous years they've had a "friendly gardens" section, and a "country estates" section. The friendly gardens are usually a group of several club members in a particular neighborhood who open their gardens for the tour (usually all within walking distance of each other), while the country estates are what you'd expect, and you drive to each one, or in some cases to a central location where a shuttle will take you to two or more.

I don't know what went on the past two years (2009 W was a newborn so I was at home, 2010 he still couldn't walk but was too heavy for me to carry (strollers are not allowed) so I sat that year out, too), but this year they didn't have two sections in this area.

Instead, it was just a selection of 10 homes in Farmington. I guess it makes sense as sort of a hybrid of the two usual choices. Although the yards aren't at the scale of the country estates, they tend to be multi-acre properties and thus larger than the typical suburban lot.

In the past I would've gotten a ticket to see all the gardens, and spaced it over two days, but this year I figured I'd better just choose a single garden and get a single-admission ticket. I figured that was all I would have time for this morning before we had to come home to nap, and W had music class this afternoon. I figured right.

Although T also likes to attend the garden tours, he was NOT keen on going with a toddler, so he stayed home. He offered to keep W at home so I could go out alone, but I didn't see the need for that since W is not really fussy when he's out with just me.

We first had to drive out to the farm where there was parking, then wait in line for the first bus into the Farmington neighborhood. This was really the only time W was fussy-- he kept whining "noooooo". I'm not sure why-- I guess there were just a lot of people and commotion and it was a very unfamiliar place for him. But once we were on the bus, he was fine. We then had to transfer to a smaller shuttle bus to get to our destination house & garden. And then we still weren't done being transported, we rode on a golf cart from the drop-off point up to the house itself. All told, it was well over an hour since we left the house in the morning before we actually got to the garden, despite it being not more than 10 miles from home.

But once at the garden, W was pretty good. He was as interested in looking at the flowers as could be expected from a 2-year-old boy. He was a little too interested in some, I'd have to drag him back out of the flower bed. The fountains also confused him. There were several low fountains (just a few inches over ground level) that had bubblers in the middle. W wanted to crawl out there and get a drink, since they looked like the water coming out of a water fountain. I let him touch the water (which he then licked off his fingers, ugh) but was successful in preventing him from climbing into any of the fountains. Although he did take me by surprise once and got his sneaker in there although I was able to yank him out before he actually stepped in.

He was generally satisfied to hold my hand, and only ran off once or twice (and not very far). He wanted to go into the chicken coop but I wouldn't let him since there was a rooster in there, and I know a toddler wouldn't win that fight if there was a confrontation. I put him on a rope swing, and he did a pretty good job of holding on, although I didn't ever really let go of him. He wanted to climb up into the treehouses, but I had to say no to that also, because they were too high for me to monitor him from the ground, and I'm in no condition to be climbing up into treehouses right now.

I took a bunch of photos which are still in the camera, perhaps at a later date I will post them with my commentary about the garden design. The main inspiration I got was to use bulb flowers as ground cover. The homeowners used that technique extensively (something like 40,000 bulbs were planted) and it really looked better than a lot of the more traditional ground covers we see around here.

I'm afraid I'll have to sit out next year again. B2 will be nearly 11 mos old and I imagine like W was last year, too heavy to carry but still nursing too often to leave at home. But maybe if I just select one garden to tour, it will be manageable. The good thing is that most of the gardens have plenty of seating and there is no one rushing anyone to move along, so it's easy enough to take rests as needed.