I go on garden tours for the inspiration, for the fun of noseying through private gardens, and for photos to share with everyone NOT on the tour.  They take hours, and not everyone can devote as much time to them as a semi-retired gardenwriter can.  Here are my take-aways from two recent tours in the area.

Takoma Park

First up, are some images from Takoma Park's House and Garden Tour, in my neighborhood from 1985 to 2011.   It was great fun seeing the progress in people's gardens and indoors, renovations I'd never seen before.  Anyone with shade in their garden can appreciate the fabulous perennial display in the shady spots above and below.  Even a narrow side yard can be a stunner.

Above is the view from one homeowner's deck and screened-in porch into their back garden.  Nice wide borders stuffed with a diversity of plants reveal a real gardener living here. 

And though I neglected to photograph them, screened-in porches seem to be the new big thing in home renovation, judging by the homes on tour in Takoma. 

Finally for Takoma, a small patio is made prettier by the liberal use of purple and blue, including in the shade cloth but especially in the chimney-as-artwork.


Now let's go to Virginia for the Fairfax portion of the state's Historic Garden Week.  That's where I found the glorious redbud/wisteria blooming combo shown above, in the large garden of a large and grand home - like many of the homes on the tour.  I learned that homes can be the focus of tours in the Historic Garden Week program - it's just that the proceeds go to support historic gardens.  Grand homes aren't nearly as interesting to me as grand gardens, and even more interesting are the less-grand ones.  This one, though large, wasn't too formal and was full of great plant choices grown perfectly.

Above, here's a homeowner using plants and creative talents to welcome her visitors.  A child's Adirondack chair becomes a container garden hanging next to the front door and the mailbox echoes the same color-coordinated blooms.  Below, the view looking from her (amazing) home into the back yard is even more colorful and inviting.  She hand-painted the floor cloth and pillowcase.

Finally, the tour included a public garden - Meadowlark Botanical Gardens.  Since it opened in 1992 Meadowlark has become quite popular with the public, especially for weddings in the building seen below.

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