by Melody Kendall
We cruise around taking different routes to keep track of any new developments. I consider it wonderful exercise on so many levels. My husband calls me ‘Mrs. Kravitz' after the nosy neighbor from the ‘60s TV show “Bewitched,” but I choose to look at it as a chance to enjoy the fresh air, get some cardio and see new ideas for plants and landscaping. Plus, it is often a total sensory experience.
-Walking by one neighbor's home is a mobile ‘spa treatment' with the smell of their lavender blossoms in the warm sun.
-In the fall, leaves crunch as I walk on the sidewalk.
-Our main street is lined with older gingko trees and during fall the trees, and then the whole street, are covered with almost fluorescent, bright yellow leaves. It is such a beautiful display that I've witnessed families lined up for a family portrait using this amazing color for a background.
-The folks that live in the corner house are Hawaiian transplants, so there is always a display of amazing tropical blooms and foliage in their front yard. I could not figure out how it was done until I walked by early one morning and saw them replacing the pots with spent plants with new pots containing fresh blooming plants from the small greenhouse in the back. What a great idea.
-I have a small succulent garden in my front yard. One day I noticed a neighbor taking pictures of that garden bed. A few weeks later I discovered what must be her yard because there was a new succulent garden in the front yard that was my garden's twin. Very flattering.
-I have started taking my cell phone with me and when I see a plant I admire, but can't identify, I take a picture of it. I use one of the many available plant ID apps and, voila, instant gratification! I immediately know the name of the plant that I am looking at. Pretty cool.
-A young couple on another corner ran a drip system to the parking strip and planted flowers and bulbs. It is the best-looking parking strip in the neighborhood for color and diversity. Daffodils and tulips make way for cosmos, zinnias and black-eyed susans. In the late summer a wonderful display of naked ladies (Amaryllis Belladonna) rises above it all.
The same is true about mulch choices. One of my pet peeves is when it rains the mulch floats from the garden into the walkway. If I saw mulch on the sidewalk after a rain, I nixed that material when I was deciding on what to use in my landscape. Mostly, I've used cobbles and blue rock (I found pea gravel was too slippery and didn't remain in the garden area) but I've observed the product called ‘small fir bark' does a good job sticking, as well. I have also created a barrier between the planting beds and the walkways with used bricks I collected on one of my ramblings in the neighborhood. This reused surplus supplies and looked nice afterward.
I don't think that I have come home from one of my walks without some food for thought and my stress level reduced. One time I even found a small geranium plant that someone had tossed out alongside the road. I have found that there are so many rewards and benefits from walking through my neighborhood. I believe that you, too, can discover this wonderful educational and stress relieving resource right in your own neck of the woods. All of you ‘Mrs. (or Mr.) Kravitzs' out there, put on your walking shoes and take a cruise through your neighborhood.
Napa Master Gardeners are available to answer garden questions by email: email@example.com. or phone at 707-253-4143. Volunteers will get back to you after they research answers to your questions.
Visit our website: napamg.ucanr.edu to find answers to all of your horticultural questions.
Photo credits: Mel Kendall
UC ANR Mulches http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/GARDEN/ENVIRON/mulches.html
Pacific Horticulture.org-parking strip https://www.pacifichorticulture.org/articles/on-the-verge/
UCMG Marin county-reuse/recycle http://marinmg.ucanr.edu/BASICS/MINIMIZE_WASTE/Recycle_Reuse_Repurpose/