Although the Bloomin’ Backyards 2010 has come and gone, it’s not too late to find new ideas on how to spruce up your window planters, veggie patches, or maybe even your entire backyard.  It also never too early to mark your calendar with a reminder for this same time next year, so you don’t miss the Bloomin’ Backyards 2011. 

 Bloomin’ Backyards 2010, the annual garden tour hosted by the Sonoma County Master Gardeners, seemed to be a roaring success.  Petaluma garden fans were lucky this year because all but one of the gardens were located in our fair City – two of them within walking distance of each other.  With so much to do this weekend, we had to squeeze our visits into a two-hour window, which was a bit tight, but it was highly enjoyable and well worth the $25 ticket price.  The homeowners, master gardeners, and volunteers loved to answer questions and discuss their amazing creations. 

 Each garden’s list of plants was large and diverse, especially considering that a good portion of them were “native” as well as some specially marked “Sonoma Superstars,” which are particularly well adapted for Sonoma County’s backyards.  Many of the plants were also available for reasonable prices at the plant sale at an East Petaluma garden, the last stop on our tour. The gardeners also hosted informative demonstration booths covering everything from vermiculture (worm raising) to a well attended display presented by the Sonoma County Beekeepers. 

Before you start balking at a backyard garden tour as being for an older crowd, I should point out that the thirty-somethings were well represented.  As you can guess, I would have liked to have seen a hotdog and beer stand in front of each location, but I won’t miss a future tour just because of that oversight.  I guess it should come as no surprise that these tours are so popular.  Almost all of us have some sort of planting area in our yard, and with more people growing their own veggies and spending more time at home, it makes sense that more of us are catching the gardening bug.

Our geographic region enjoys the benefits of spectacular weather, contributing to luscious, creative, and diverse gardens.  Whether you are a connoisseur of flowers or veggies, citrus or maples, the backyard combinations are limitless.  Not surprisingly, we are also home to abundant gardening resources with nurseries with organic plants and master gardeners readily available to help us design, develop and implement our gardening ideas.  With organizations like the Sonoma County Master Gardeners and Inverness Gardening Club, just to name a couple, we are afforded great opportunities to expand our interest and knowledge of gardening.  These organizations offer classes, expert articles, informative websites, and garden tours in order to better educate the public, whether you are looking to create your first garden or are interested in refreshing your existing one.  

I highly recommend taking the next gardening tour that crosses your path.  These tours are just as appealing to the botanist who wants to expand their plant knowledge as to the average Joe, who may just want to look at pretty flowers.  And if you have a mom, don’t forget to invite her.  I don’t know too many moms who don’t enjoy a good garden tour, but even if they don’t, they will appreciate the gesture.