Dot Robinson moved into her Tree Streets home 56 years ago. While the classic lines of the two-story white frame house fit all of her childhood dream-house specifications, the yard left something to be desired.
A privet hedge encroached upon the back lawn, apple trees took up valuable space and a large maple tree cast the yard into shadow.
The changes Dot has made to transform that unruly space into a green and serene retreat will be just one feature of the Tree Streets Garden Tour “A Peek into Our Backyard” Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
There will be 10 neighborhood gardens on the tour, a through-the-garden-gate affair that offers guests a glimpse of otherwise hidden back yards.
Robinson’s manicured space is built around the river birches she planted. When asked how she chose the plants, shrubs and trees that went into her yard, she said, “I just do it. I saw a river birch and said, ‘I want that.’ ”
Though the landscaping wasn’t formally planned, Robinson and her late husband worked in tandem when it came to design. A case in point is the white fence that replaced the hulking privet hedge.
“I put the fence up after my husband died. It was the next thing we planned to do together,” Robinson said. Taking out the hedge opened up the back yard and simplified it lines. Now it’s more in keeping with the house’s straightforward architecture.
Garden tourists visit in the hope of borrowing clever ideas. Robinson’s garden won’t disappoint. A water feature draws the eye to the fence line, and flanking shrubs widen the view. The dividing line between lawn and neatly mulched plantings is etched by stone and a thin line of gravel. A garden swing and benches invite visitors to stay awhile, and accent pillows embroidered with sayings “Gardeners know all the best dirt” and “Mud, sweat and tears” elicit smiles.
Next door, at the home of Betty Ann Polaha, clever is the operative word. Her rain barrel stand is skirted with outdoor fabric, the bird feeder is a metal sugar container on a pie plate, wicker chairs, both large and small, serve as plant stands. Polaha is new to gardening but she already has successfully incorporated a raised vegetable bed and entertaining garden elements.
In addition to the 10 home gardens, the tour will include the Tree Streets Community Garden. Information about composting, organic practices, rain collection and more will be offered.
Though July mornings are often hot, visitors will be able to cool off while lingering on an old-fashioned, shady porch where refreshments will be served.
Tickets are $8 in advance at Mize Farm and Garden, West Watauga Avenue and State of Franklin Road, until close of business July 22. Tickets may be purchased for $10 the day of the tour at Veterans Park on Southwest Avenue next to South Side School.
All profits will be donated to the Carver Community Garden, South Side School and to support art in the neighborhood.
For more information, call 928-4779 or 926-7185.