When The Garden Club Comes A Knockin’

By Pat Chatlin

Pat Chatlin

Pat Chatlin

The day the Laguna Beach Garden Club announces that Lower Lombardy Lane is going to be “a point of interest” on its prestigious Spring Garden Tour is a mixed bag for some of us.  My husband’s nine-foot tall welded “Nature Totem” sculpture will be featured in the guidebook.  At first, visions of prior annual tours dance in my head.  Then utter panic reigns supreme.

Our garden is no match for villas by the sea, terraced hillsides highlighted with Mediterranean poplars, cascading florescent bougainvillea, colossal Roman urns of violet plumbago and winding trails, where happy Buddhas and chubby cherubs reside.  Even small cottage gardens of climbing Eden roses, dangling wisteria and spilling orange nasturtiums elevate our spirit and leave us in awe of Mother Nature and her caretakers.

Is this an uncharacteristic Garden Club snafu?   As I survey our yard, my earthquake emergency training kicks in.  Form a triage!   That’s it!  First,lost causes” trigger immediate guilt for my bouts of neglect or over watering: toss.   Second, “treatables” can survive with a last minute infusion of compost and fertilizer: resuscitate.  Third, “indestructibles,” too hardy to kill, my prized succulents make anybody look accomplished: showcase.

Our next-door neighbor touches up her picket fence and gate with black paint in preparation for the Big Day.  The country French garden next to hers is a regular feature in garden magazines and graces a vintage cottage built in 1926.

My kitchen window frames this magical garden, a view I savor with my morning cup of tea.  But even a supreme gardener frets that her blooms may peak too late and miss the Big Day.  Pressure in the neighborhood builds.

“Nature Totem” will get a public viewing during Friday’s Garden Tour.

“Nature Totem” will get a public viewing during Friday’s Garden Tour.

Our gazebo, which has been on my husband’s “honey-do” list for years moves to the top.  Its restoration begins with zeal as carloads of redwood fill our garage for the “project.”

Now, I am not blaming the Garden Club for my husband’s emergency sojourn at the intensive care unit of Mission Hospital Laguna.  But I will admit that the very next day after his release, he resumes fabricating the garden gate, which serves as an outstanding backdrop to “Nature Totem.”

Do you think the Garden Club will notice if I tie plastic lemons to my uncooperative potted lemon tree?   It’s really too heavy to toss.

The garden club tour, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, May 3, departs from Laguna Nursery, 1370 S. Coast Highway.


Pat Chatlin is a freelance writer and her story “He Arrived With A Cleaver” was recently published in their L.A. Affairs section.

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