The 13th annual Venice Garden Tour is scheduled to take place Saturday, May 5th.
The self-guided tour of charming and unique gardens will include those designed by well-known landscape designers and individual green-thumb enthusiasts. This is a great opportunity to get ideas for garden designs and to see unusual speci- mens.
It is said that you can tell a lot about a person based on the clothes they wear, the car they drive or where they live. The same can be true about the type of garden they cultivate.
After talking with Constance Nachman, I came away with a good feeling about the kind of person she is, just based on the colors she likes and how she nurtures her garden.
Constance and her husband, Bud, purchased their home in 1976, but the garden was started only in 1996. Constance was a teacher and didnít have much time to spend gardening.
ìNow that Iím retired I have more time,î she says.
Her mother grew flowers and vegetables on a little farm in Ohio when Constance was a child. ìSo I grew up with it,î she adds.
Originally the Nachman yard was just grass with a dragon tree and several orange trees. Constance started from there.
ìItís been trial and error,î she says. ìWhat looks good and what doesnít ó what grows and what doesnít. I have no knowledge of what goes where. I just play it by ear.
ìI think all gardens have a mind of their own.î
A visitor once asked how she was able to get the wisteria growing next to the kitchen window. ìWell, I planted it down there (at the other end of the house) and it just started coming up through the boards of the porch,î she says. ìIt just had a mind of its own.î
Even the ivy goes its own way and the St. Johnís creeper ìcreeps by itself.î
ìIt looks like an absolute picture,î she says.
There is a scrapbook of the garden. The pictures remind Constance how the garden is going to look in each season.
ìI take photographs when I see a scene that I want to remember,î she says.
There is even a picture of an English sparrow in her hand. ìI raised it from a baby,î she says. ìIt was tame and I could feed it.î
Constanceís favorite plants change with the season and are those that tend to have nice fragrances.
ìRight now itís jasmine, with its lovely smells, and wisteria,î she says. The basics ó wisteria, roses and potato vine ó are constants. Other flowers in small spots change.
ìI didnít like the particular shade of pink of one plant so it had to be replaced,î she says.
She doesnít know all the names of the flowers in her garden. Friends tell her. One great name is ìyesterday, today and tomorrowî ó a plant with white, lavender and purple flowers all blooming at the same time, with a nice lavender bouquet.
Fruits and spices make up a ìworkingî garden. The orange trees have been joined by peach, lemon, apricot, lime and kumquat varieties and spices such as basil and oregano are grown in a special box.
A spirea with beautiful white flowers is in the front yard. ìWhen I saw it in the nursery it brought back memories of what was planted in front of this old house on West 90th Street in Cleveland Ohio,î Constance says. ìI love it! I love it!
ìI didnít know whether it was going to grow well here. I planted it and it just drapes so nicely. It gives me a good feeling because I know, when I first saw it, how I appreciated it as a little kid. I just loved those flowers.î
White is Constanceís favorite color. ìYou should see this garden at night,î she says. ìI have lights in the ground and they ëuplightí under the various trees. You donít lose the white flowers at night. Itís a different ambiance.î
Soft lavenders and blues are also favorites, but not brights.
ìIf someone were to give me a red rose, I wouldnít be comfortable with it,î she says.
A narrow white porch the length of the house, with white wood outdoor furniture, is perfect for viewing the lovely garden. A tree that was planted many years ago started growing towards the porch, but instead of cutting the tree, a space was cut in the porch to incorporate it as part of the garden and to provide natural shade.
ìI like the white because it stands out against the dark green,î says Constance.
The Nachmans extended their home in the back with French doors leading to… where else but the garden.
Adding interest, the garden features a contrast of textures. Stones were laid when the garden was first started. Concrete from a broken-up sidewalk became a path. Constance designed a stone fountain in greens and reds.
ìI learned not to put it under a tree,î she says. ìIt gets too many leaves in it. Itís pretty the way the ivy is growing over it. Again, itís all natural.î
Constanceís sensibilities extend to the huge palm trees that were planted many years ago.
ìI donít want them trimmed because I donít want them to have a rough trunk. Every time thereís a wind I say, ëJust blow them down.í I donít like the harshness ó all those little things sticking out. I like the smooth trunk.î
Constance is thrilled to be included on the Venice Garden Tour.
ìWhen people stop at the fence and say, ëOh, what a lovely garden,í thatís the joy I get out of this. I have my own personal joy, but other people appreciate it, too.î
Be sure to visit Constanceís garden on the Garden Tour. It will be a treat!
The tour raises funds to benefit the children of the Las Doradas Childrenís Learning Center. Operated by the nonprofit Neighborhood Youth Association, the center offers childcare and education at very low or no cost to low-income, at-risk children ages two to 12 from the Oakwood neighborhood.
To become a sponsor or to order tickets for the tour, Barbara Baumann, (310) 821-1857; ven ice firstname.lastname@example.org; or www.venicegardentour.org/.