John Erskine, an early-20th century literary scholar, may be most remembered for his essay, “The Moral Obligation to be Intelligent.”
While it wasn’t in the essay, he is often quoted as saying, “I have never had so many good ideas day after day as when I worked in the garden.”
Twelve of Reston’s gardeners, teeming with good ideas, will feature their gardens this Saturday during the Reston Garden Tour.
The tour, which benefits the construction of Nature House, follows award-winning garden seasons for Reston, a winner in the 2004 America in Bloom and the 2005 International Communities in Bloom Competition. The tour is the first since 2000, said Pat Lenz, president of the Reston Garden Club, which is sponsoring the tour along with the Reston Association.
Lenz, who lives on Lake Anne, recently converted an antique pump into a small fountain as the newest decorative addition to her garden, which will be featured on the tour.
A waterfall descends toward the lake in the backyard garden of her lakefront townhouse. Lenz’ husband had the natural-looking waterfall installed in 1999 as a 40th wedding anniversary. “I just love it,” said Lenz, adding that it was the perfect gift.
On the east side of Lenz’ townhouse, a climbing hydrangea grows right up the wall. She trimmed the lower branches, she said, to show off the “interesting” exfoliating bark.
DURING THE FINAL days of preparation before the tour, Lenz has begun tagging several plants. She hopes the tour will help the amateur — or the veteran — gardener learn more about gardening. “I hope they’ll get a lot of ideas and ask a lot of questions,” said Lenz, adding that education is one of the chief goals of the garden club.
Kathleen McKee, who will be featuring her garden on the tour, often eats breakfast to the soft cooing of morning doves, which feed atop a flat birdfeeder hung overlooking the east side of her garden. The gardens on each side of her house consist mostly of perennials, which she said helps keep most of the garden low-maintenance.
In her backyard, visitors will be able to sit at a bench near a small pond enjoying the view of Japanese ferns, impatients, a fig tree and a big Hemlock.
Her garden layout, which includes everything from bleeding hearts to azaleas and lavender to a Korean lilac, was planned somewhat around flowering. “My goal was to stage the flowering,” she said. Currently, the front garden’s new dawn rose bush is in full bloom. “It has just gone nuts,” said McKee, a Reston Association board member.
Her recent pride and joy is a camellia, which she says is like a flattened gardenia without the scent. In the next few weeks, she’s looking forward to sampling a few blueberries from her small blueberry bush.
WHILE MCKEE CAN name everything in her garden, she enjoys learning about the plants.
“Part of the fun is learning what I have so if I want another one, I can go get it,” said McKee. She also enjoys potting saplings and giving them to friends and family — especially the Japanese maple saplings, she said.
Julie and Charlie Bond, who live on the corner of two side streets in south Reston, have spent three years planting a rich, thick garden around their home, creating a sense of seclusion. As with several other gardens on the tour, their property includes a large, blooming clematis — theirs has purple flowers that runs up the front side of their house.
“We also put in a dry stream bed to prevent erosion,” said Julie Bond, adding that she and her husband transported many of the big, bordering rocks from their farm in western Maryland.
With the house surrounded by gardens, the Bonds see tons of wildlife. Last Sunday night, they watched as adolescent wrens made their first attempts at flight. “We enjoy nature. We do a lot of bird watching,” said Julie Bond, whose garden includes dozens of birdfeeders and birdbaths.
The Bonds also divulged one of the secrets to their success. “We use a lot of [ground-up leaf] mulch,” said Charlie Bond. They get the mulch free from the refuse and recycling drop-off site on West Ox Road.
The gardeners have varying reasons to explain their passion for gardening, including many therapeutic benefits.
With 30 years of gardening experience, Lenz is concise about her motivation for gardening. “I want it to look beautiful.”