Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote a beautiful piece about what it is to succeed.
Part of it read: “To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition.”
As the owner of a certified black thumb, I am in awe of people who can make a garden thrive, particularly in our semi-arid climate and erratic growing season. So there’s little I enjoy more than getting a chance to see the fruits of their labors. And this Saturday is the best chance to check out great gardens in our area and celebrate those who have made a difference by creating one of Emerson’s “garden patches.”
Why, you ask? Because the Durango Botanical Society has convinced members and friends to throw open their garden gates and let us in to “ooh” and “aah.”
It doesn’t matter what kind of garden you like, one of the 11 on the list is sure to delight. And the organizers, Camilla Potter, Tish Varney, Jill Salka, Susan Ostendorp and botanical society Executive Director Cindy Smart, have planned the tour to be efficient, so you don’t spend all day in the car. Eight of the gardens are in town, primarily “On the Avenues” in historic downtown and are easily walkable or bikeable. The other three are all on County Road 250.
A few of the highlights include a 100-year-old maple tree, waterfalls and ponds, magnolias (in Durango?), topiaries, fruit trees and berry bushes, a fire pit, a white garden, historic gardening elements, jasmine, xeriscaping and flowers and vegetables galore.
This is also a chance to check out the newly rebuilt Linnaea Farms, which was destroyed during the major mudslides last fall. The community turned out in force to help Marjorie Cristol get back into the flower and goat cheese business.
Tickets are $18 for members and $25 for members. They are available under the tent at Smart Enterprises, 1400 Main Ave. from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, by visiting www.durangobotanicalsociety.com or with cash or check at any of the gardens.
The easiest way to find one of the gardens is to go down East Third Avenue to Patti and Ray Baranowski’s at 825 or Jane Gould’s at 436; or down East Fifth Avenue to Janet Kenna’s home at 1045 or Jaqueline Skjold’s at 924.
The tour ends with a great takeaway for all the other gardeners who will be taking the tour or for those folks like me who always want to know more.
Garden histories, pictures and plant lists will be available online, and the botanical society is taking a page from Instagram and allowing folks who go on the tour to post their best photos, too.
The tour runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and finishes with a botanically inspired gourmet ice cream social at the Durango Public Library on the terrace overlooking the society’s Demonstration Garden. Those who visit all the gardens on the tour are invited to vote for their favorite and are eligible to win a Dave Claussen sculpture called “Water” to put in their own garden.
Because this is a fundraiser, there will be a silent auction, but one with only two special items. A gicleé of Barbara Tobin Klema’s painting “Mariposa,” framed by Tom Garcia at Smart Art, and a bouquet subscription from Passion Flower Bouquet Farm, Lisa Bourey’s new business, will each go to a lucky bidder.
(Every reader who is a gardener snorted at my lead statement about the erratic growing season because it’s the understatement of the year. Old timers say it’s safe to plant when Smelter Mountain is clear of snow. But what do you do when Smelter never had any snow on it?)
The National Weather Service is forecasting a bright, beautiful 87-degree day on Saturday.
I can imagine no better place to spend a day like that than in a cool, verdant garden. See you there.
Here’s wishing armloads of flowers for the birthdays of Yvonne Portell, Jigger Staby, Amber Lashmett-Levine, Jack Morrison, Chris Scott, Clay Siekman, Sharon Watkins, Arnold Trujillo, Ron Anderson, Paul Mills, Jodie House, Emma Russell, Ricky Hermesman, George San Miguel, Tiffany Mapel, Tyler Erickson, Erin Sparks, Jay Hurtado, Nick Dudley, Ryan Ehrig, Jill Simplicio, Allison Betts, Danette Jenkins, Crystal Willmett, Jonas Grushkin, Clyde Church, Karyn Gabaldon and Sherri Phippen.
On May 15, (yep, still catching up on the busiest month of the year) members of the Reading Club of Durango, both past and present, gathered at the home of President Carol Grenoble for the President’s Luncheon. The club has held the event for most, if not all (the records of the early years are spotty), of its 132 years, but this one was special on several levels.
Grenoble’s home on East Third Avenue once belonged to Dr. John Haggart (who, as another point of historical trivia, performed the first surgery, an appendectomy, at Mercy Hospital in 1897) and his wife, Lounette (Jackson) Haggart.
Lounette Haggart arrived in Durango as a teenager with her family in January 1881, several months before we even incorporated as a city, and was a charter member of the Reading Club in 1882. She served as the president of the club from 1904 to 1906, so we knew a previous President’s Luncheon had been held right where we were sitting more than a century earlier.
The room was decorated in the club’s colors of pink and green, and the tables were abloom with colorful flowers, including pink carnations, the club’s flower. Thankfully, the ears were not assaulted by the club’s song, which is Victoriana in all its “glory.”
Grenoble and her husband, David, made gift bookmarks with Lounette Haggart’s photo, and madam president decorated them with charms she had picked up on a recent trip to Spain. (That has been a bit of a recent tradition, with bookmarks from Japan, Vietnam and other ports of call showing up at the luncheon.)
After a lunch of onion tarts, artichoke lasagna prepared by Justice Tower and salad, it was time for the main event. Barbershop quartet First Class Delivery, with Carroll “Pete” Peterson, John T. Fox, John Randolph and new lead David Grenoble, serenaded the ladies, particularly the lady of the hour, Beverly Darmour. She celebrated both her 90th birthday and 50th year in the club in 2014. Grenoble had ordered a scrumptious vanilla-pear-almond cake to mark the occasion.
Not to make you feel old, Bev, but holy cow! Five decades in a club, 50 years serving as an officer or on a committee, giving programs and hostessing. That’s commitment.
Most of the guests wore hats in her honor – Darmour is known for giving programs in historic garb – and everyone came with a Beverly story or two.
Yours truly spent time at the Center of Southwest Studies researching Darmour’s 50 years of membership in the club’s scrapbooks, which are archived there. With the help of Linda MacCannell, the professional photographer in the club, I was able to get photos from throughout the years.
Add me to the list of people in love with the digitized Durango Herald at the Durango Public Library, which was, not coincidentally, founded with a lot of help from Reading Club of Durango. The research on Darmour’s programs and hostessing was so much easier than microfilm, easier by far.
Congratulations, Beverly, on both landmarks.
These former June brides are hoping their husbands show up with some fragrant roses for their anniversaries – Gisele and Trent Pansze, Beth and Steve Scales, Diane and Darrell Trembly, Penni and Tom Compton, Linda and Carl Curtiss, Diane and Deck Shaline, Cheryl and Tim Birchard, Moni and Jonas Grushkin and Kathy and Randy Black.