Local lifestyle columnists

Enjoying a summer garden

By From page D5 | July 06, 2014

“The sun is shining, Oh happy day!”

It’s summer and the garden beckons us to get outside and enjoy. When daylight pours through the windows, there is no better way to greet the day than to go out into the garden, walk around and experience the early morning.

During the Master Gardener class presentations this year, a group of women spoke about the “accessible sensory garden.” They talked about knowing your space and making sure it is accessible for anything you choose to do in it, whether it is pushing a wheelbarrow through the garden or a wheelchair.

Planning your space for how it will be used (viewing, socializing, relaxing) and making sure it is easy to maintain. Then designing your garden with what you love – water features, decks, seating, shrubs, trees and plants. The sensory garden includes plants that have fragrance such as roses, lavender, basil, and sweet peas plus edible plants, that may include mint, chives, cucumbers and tomatoes. There are plants that are a joy to touch because of their textures, such as thyme, Mexican sage and Lambs Ears.

They spoke about sound in the garden such as hearing the wind as it blows through grasses, or the tinkling of wind chimes and falling water in fountains or water falls. It was a wakeup presentation that encouraged me to slow down, look, smell, touch, taste and listen to my garden.

Cultivating an emotional connection with your garden plays a role in most landscapes. One of my favorite vines I grow every year is sweet peas. My love for them developed as a child when I watched my grandmother grow these colorful, fragrant flowers in her garden; cutting the stems with small scissors; placing them in small bottles and sharing them with those she loved. Now many, many years later, I do the same thing. The daphne in my side garden is there because my mother tended one in her garden and the memory of the incredible fragrance transports me back to my childhood.

When walking through my garden in the early morning, there are plants growing that someone else has shared from their yard, maybe by a cutting, slip or seed. Most of the succulents growing in containers were given to me by friends. What a people connection exchanging plants gives us.

If your garden is small or easy to maintain, it allows less work and more play. Enjoy your garden space. Set a table with a colorful tablecloth, invite a few friends or neighbors over for root beer floats or ice cream sundaes. String some lanterns between the trees. Your peach tree is full of fruit so have a cobbler party where everyone helps with the harvest and takes fruit home. Share your garden and your love of gardening not only with other adults, but with children.

Sit for awhile, close your eyes, smell and listen. Although this morning my chair was across the garden from the roses, I could smell their sweet fragrance. The sound of bees in the geraniums on the steps forced me to open my eyes. I could only see two, but it sounded like a lot more.

Put your “to do” list aside. Get outside and greet the new day. Summer is fleeting and will soon be gone. There is so much to enjoy – your garden is waiting.

Sharon Rico is a Master Gardener with the University of California Cooperative Extension office in Fairfield. If you have gardening questions, call the Master Gardener’s office at 784-1322.

Sharon Rico


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