The Pence Gallery 20th Annual Garden Tour is now just a memory but ideas picked up there are no doubt simmering in the minds of the many gardeners who visited the 8 lovely far West Davis gardens featured this year. I imagine many of those ideas will soon be incorporated into other gardens around town. I can’t think of one year out of the many that I’ve attended the Pence Garden Tour when I haven’t stolen at least one idea. This year one of the things I know I’ll do is to copy the gardeners at Garden No. 5, Jeb and Grant Taylor, and Rick Montgomery, and use old baskets to make a bit of a raised bed and mark plantings in the garden. While I hate to give away my secret addiction, I think I must. I love the look of plants spilling out of baskets and have quite a few around my garden. They last a few years before disintegrating but don’t worry…thrift stores are absolutely packed with perfect baskets and they are practically free! I drop by Davis or Woodland thrift stores every few weeks and almost always find one or two really nice baskets just meant for me to take home.
I would love to recreate Sarah Gray’s Arizona slate dry-stack wall constructed by Ramon Ibanez. Shown in the top photo, it provides a beautiful backdrop to her garden. A similar wall would make a wonderful enclosure for raised vegetable beds and she does indeed plant tomatoes, peppers, and squash in the sunny end of the bed.
The Pence Garden Tour is held each year on the first Sunday of May. It comes just in time to provide inspiration and enjoyment to Davis area gardeners and is a wonderful introduction to plants that do well here for those who are just starting their gardens. While you can see many plants at nurseries or in magazines, choosing those that you’ve seen thrive in Davis gardens is the key to getting off to a good beginning. One plant that does very well in the alkaline soil here and was shown to wonderful advantage in many of the large gardens is Centranthus ruber, more commonly known as Jupiter’s Beard. Not for the small garden, but for a sunny spot where it can become a luscious swath, there were exuberant examples growing in several gardens.
Roses were in full bloom in all but possibly one garden. Some gardens featured dedicated rose garden areas while others incorporated climbers and shrubs in amongst other plants. In each case, however, the blooms were lush and lovely. It illustrated well the idea that there are many ways to use the same type of plant in different settings to provide an individual look simply by choosing the variety that suits your style. Many of the roses were on arbors, another feature found in almost every garden, sometimes in multiples. Arbors are great for vertical gardening of any kind and are something that gardens of more modest size can also use to great advantage.
There were many more things to see and marvel at on this year’s tour, so check back on May 19 when we’ll see some of the less easily stolen ideas. From a mini valley grassland, to a weeping mulberry secret hideaway, to a slough side retreat complete with plein air artist, much more remains to be explored.