Master Gardeners host Mother's Day tour

Tour six local gardens on Sunday
By: Elizabeth Speth, Loomis News Correspondent
-A +A
Local gardening aficionados can tour six exceptional properties on Mother’s Day, enjoying area plants at the height of spring bloom. The Placer County Master Gardeners’ 2011 tour winds through Newcastle, Loomis, Granite Bay and Roseville from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., this Sunday, May 8. Billed as a rain or shine event, sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-seventies are predicted for tour day by the National Weather Service. Last week’s high winds caused some concern among flower lovers, but Patty Foust, owner of the Flower Farm Nursery in Loomis, is not worried. “The damage was mostly limited to early blooming plants, like lilacs, which are exhausted now anyway. Plants just coming into bloom do a better job of holding on to their buds,” Foust said. Garden tour participant Pam Strobel is clearing branches, leaves and other wind debris from her Loomis property. Strobel said she is excited to show visitors what comes of starting a garden with “nothing very special.” Many plants on the Tudsbury Road property, she points out, come from a local home improvement store. Her garden landscape plan was a series of sketches on lined notebook paper. Strobel said the traditional ranch-style home sits on two acres and was “a lot of parallel and perpendicular lines” when she and her husband, Tom, bought the property ten years ago. Their first endeavor was to erase the straightforward walkways and borders. Recycled, decomposed granite and concrete pieces became gently curving paths, each winding through numerous colorful microclimates before disappearing just out of sight. Hearty volunteer plants, suited to the climate, became the foundation for Strobel’s landscape. “We started with the existing oaks, liquid ambers, and the heavenly bamboo,” she said. Phototinia, fringe flower and peonies also abounded on the property, along with hundreds of purple, bearded irises. They are a favorite of her calico cat Bailey, who stalks through them keeping a wary eye on visitors. “I love them,” Stobel admits, “because the deer don’t bother them. I’ve gotten attached to a lot of plants over the years, and the deer just come in and decimate them.” Above one purple pool of irises, Strobel points to a dogwood tree, resplendent in delicate white blossoms, clearly at the apex of its blooming cycle. “That tree is doing so well because it gets the acid it needs from the nearby oaks and pines. Placement is everything,” she said. Over the years, Strobel has planted Japanese maples, roses, azaleas, rhododendrons, wisteria and fragrant green onions with delicate white flowered caps. The gardener points out that great swaths of them that have been flattened. “Deer again,” she said. “They love to sleep here.” Strobel said she brought in tons of granite rocks that provide the perfect neutral backdrop for colorful plants. “You want to choose a lot of colors within a palette,” she advises. “A gray green is so much more striking next to a dark green, and a medium green next to a lime green.” Strobel also repeats color and design elements in her landscaping. “They draw the eye forward, seeking them out,” she said. The garden’s numerous microclimates range from shady patches, with a woodland feel, to bright corners of blazing sun supporting edibles like vegetables, trellised grapes and herbs. Fruit trees include citrus, cherry, apple, plum and pomegranate. Strobel, who teaches sewing and paper craft classes in a home studio said she considers herself more of an artist than a gardener. Tickets are available at The Flower Farm Nursery for $10 per person, and children under 12 are free. 2011 MOTHER’S DAY GARDEN TOUR Who: Placer County Master Gardeners What: Tour six gardens in Newcastle, Loomis, Granite Bay and Roseville When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, May 8 Price: $10 each, children under 12 are free Tickets: The Flower Farm Nursery in Loomis, 652-5650