Every gardenerd needs to “fill the well” sometimes, to take in beauty and inspiration that will generate ideas for future gardening projects. Today was filled with sparks of gardening inspiration at the Venice Garden Tour. There were 31 houses on the tour, so we set out on foot to take them all in.
Venice Beach, for those who aren’t familiar, is an eclectic town populated with artists, architects, landscape designers, and hippies. It was the epicenter of pushing the envelope in the 20s, where the world’s first swimsuit competition was held. It’s the home of Muscle Beach, the Venice Boardwalk, and so much more. Venice is also well-known for its teeny-tiny houses (usually Craftsman bungalows) on teeny-tiny lots. This tour showcases small-space gardening at its finest.
Japanese Maple and Kangaroo Paw make a colorful splash in this side garden
While most of the gardens we saw focused on drought tolerant and native plants, like the one shown above, there were many gardens with edible plots tucked into their landscape as well. Some planted artichokes right next to aloes, or blueberries next to gardenias (they both prefer acid-loving soil). We saw plenty of Swiss chard and lettuces which added color to otherwise green gardens. Our first stop featured an adorable cottage garden in the front yard with a couple of vegetable beds interplanted with bright flowers.
Kitty stayed in place long enough for me to get the shot. Veggies are found in the background bed, with flowers in the foreground bed.
This first house also gave us a wonderful treat. The homeowner happened to have a business doing custom letterpress printing in the back studio (one of many back studios we saw). Her assistant was giving guests the opportunity to print their own souvenir:
Pull down the lever, hold for 5 seconds and release = keepsake
Isn’t that nice?!
Okay, on to other gardens…
One really good example of a small-space conversion was in an “apartment complex” of small bungalow apartments with a shared courtyard. The courtyard used to be a sad patch of dry grass, but the residents converted it into a community vegetable garden with some artful accents:
I love how the potted flowers skirt the tree on the left. Squash, mustard greens, chives and tomatoes were thriving here. Right next to this was a beautiful vine-covered pergola with a seating area decorated with Moroccan lamps.
There is a diverse mix of modern and classic architecture in Venice. A one-story Craftsman might sit next to a two-story corrugated metal and glass house. One of our stops featured a rooftop garden that made good use of the edges around the perimeter of the deck.
Apartment dwellers take note – other beds nearby were on casters for easy moving to a sunnier spot.
The white planters against the gray wallmake this rooftop lookout feel cozy and warm. They planted tomatoes, lettuces, broccoli, herbs and peppers all around the deck.
Now if there’s one thing I wish I could take home, it’s from this cozy garden that stole our hearts:
Trying to figure out how to tie this to the roof of my car…
There were far too many cute little accents in all the gardens we saw to publish here, but I’ll leave you with this charming ensemble.
Inspired? We are. As the Victory Garden propaganda used to say, “Onward Garden Soldiers!”