Unfortunately Carmen’s Garden isn’t a place you’ll be able to visit now that the Vallejo Garden Tour is over, but I’ll share some of my pictures and insights with you so hopefully you won’t feel too sad that you missed out on it in person. Although this is “old news” now since the Vallejo Garden Tour was on May 19th, my new friend Carmen deserves to have her beautiful garden bragged about!
As a Master Gardener “newbie” (Graduation: May 10th, 2012!), I was a bit nervous about being a docent for the Tour, but was relieved to share my duties with a seasoned veteran, Trishae Rose. And once I saw Carmen’s beautiful garden, I knew it wouldn’t be hard to talk to anyone about its beauty!
Carmen and her family have a lovely 1920’s home situated in the historic Bay Terrace neighborhood of Vallejo. One of the unique aspects of the garden is that it is comprised of approximately 5 different levels, each with its own interest and different types of plantings. Perhaps the most remarkable part of the story is that Carmen, with the help of her daughter, transformed this area in the span of only two months when she was approached by the organizers of the Garden Tour to participate! Because of this detail, I thought it was imperative to show “before” and “after” pictures so visitors could really appreciate the transformation. So I printed Carmen’s “before” pictures and posted them on two different sandwich boards for visitors to see the comparisons.
When visitors arrived at Carmen’s lovely home, no doubt they were impressed by the interesting architecture of the home and peaceful fountain at the front entryway. Guests then made their way around the house, along a narrow & somewhat uneven brick pathway and as they entered the back gate, they stepped into the magical world of Carmen’s Garden!
The back patio is set up for a relaxing yet upscale outdoor dining experience, including a Spanish-style candle-lighted chandelier, plus beautiful plants in the border garden beds and in patio planter pots as well, including a variety of succulents. Throughout all the levels of the backyard garden, which also boasts a hot tub(!), there are a variety of beautiful plants – Plectranthus, Lavatera assurgentaflora (Tree Mallow), Gunnera tinctora, Hydrangeas -- most of which Carmen included just because she liked them. In fact, she didn’t know much about plants at all, but purchased/placed the ones in her garden simply because she thought they were nice and they suited her taste.
I should note that Carmen has been an Interior Designer for many years – the inside of her home is evidence of her amazing talent – but it was clear that she really has a knack for being an ‘exterior’ designer as well! However, amazing talent aside, one very important rule Carmen abided by to help her choose her plants wisely, was to choose plants that fit the right location: full sun, shade, wide growth area, in pots, etc., plus the majority of her choices are evergreen and perennials so they will maintain a level of beauty year-round. So whether you have a knack for design, you’re a Master Gardener, or just a plant enthusiast, Carmen’s Garden is a wonderful example that we can all create a beautiful garden in our own backyard if we do a little research first!
Carmen's Oasis (photos by JoEllen Myslik)
View of the lower patio and Trisha, Master Gardener.