Saturday, December 4, 2010

Winter Gardens - Brilliant!

My neighborhood, like many others in the Atlanta area – and indeed the country – has experienced “the housing crisis” in full. Developers and builders have gone out of business. One Home Owners Association Management Company after another has come in and made matters better or worse (the current one, number four, is a good one!). There are too many renters. But that may be better than abandoned houses. There are foreclosures. There are “home for sale” signs, by owner or listed with a real estate company, everywhere and the properties are lingering on the market, some for two years or longer.

Sounds like your neighborhood? We’re all in the same boat!

This year, about six months ago, we finally had an HOA Board and a management company that saw merit in having a garden club, so I started one and, by default, became its President. With an initial membership of four (Catherine, Sally and Helen in addition to myself), we started meeting once a month, quickly added three more members (Denelle, Pat and Sandy) and then another (Debbie). Eight strong, we began planning programs. Helen took responsibility for a September workshop on soil, lawns and trees. The program was excellent, but the turn-out meager. Catherine proposed a “progressive winter garden tour”, much as neighborhoods have for decades held progressive dinners. We all supported the idea and the event was held today.

Congratulations, Catherine! It was splendid! Turn-out was 30+, at last count, most of them from outside our neighborhood (the local newspapers did a great job announcing the event), and we’ve put our sub-division on the map and made some new friends.

Morale of the story? The glass is not just half full, it’s almost overflowing! If your neighborhood is suffering from the real estate blues, do something! We are making a start in our neighborhood, and today’s event surpassed all expectations. Now enjoy images from the gardens that were on the tour:

This garden has a fresh yet polished look to it, with nicely pruned shrubs and plantings of pansies and snapdragons.

Santa Claus cannot possible skip this family! With a 'natural' look to its garden, the season is being celebrated with reindeer, candy canes, wreaths and more.

This garden always attracts attention, no matter the season. With conifers, small trees and seasonal color, it's no wonder cars slow down when they pass. The rear garden is equally stunning, even including grape vines.

Along with strategically-placed pots of Viola, this basket of Cyclamen is an immediate attention-getter.

The photograph does not do the garden justice; these homeowners have made their front door the main focal point, with both downstairs and upstairs holiday decorations visible through the window.

An excellent example of how a sloping lot can be used for seasonal color. Here, pansies flow off to the left, to come to a halt neat the Crape Myrtle on the corner. Between the stairs to the front door and the driveway, a specimen conifer attracts attention.

The final home on today's tour, our project manager and her husband's, welcomed visitors with beautiful indoor decorations, many of them generations-old, live entertainment and a warm holiday drink. Many of the plants in this garden, not in this photograph and only becoming visible again in spring, come from a decades-old family garden in Pennsylvania and have accompanied the couple on their journey south.

We did it, in our neighborhood -- celebrate the season, forget for a moment the real estate mess and the Great Recession -- and you can do it, too!


Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing photos of your neighborhood. Very pretty.
Happy Holidays to you and your neighbors!

Lya Sorano said...

Thank you, Peggy! It was great fun and I am very happy we did this last Saturday instead of having it on the calendar for tomorrow. We would all be freezing!!

antigonum cajan said...

That lawn besides being ecologically incorrect, looks burned. Result of being incorrectly mowed or the winter.

Lya Sorano said...

The lawns are Bermuda, which goes dormant in the cold months of the year; they will be green again as of April/May.

The ecology issue is quite another matter and of much concern to me.

All over the country, home owners associations (HOAs) have certain requirements for "image", for homes as well as gardens. For gardens, this typically involves copious amounts of fertilizer and pesticides/herbicides. As sustainability becomes more urgent, it is my hope that HOAs will begin to place greater value on environmentally safe practices.