What a fantastic end to the summer we’ve had in the Portola. Even as I write this article (in early October) the weather is piping hot and sunny. At the end of September we were all treated to the annual delight that is the Portola Garden Tour. A full day of peering into the back gardens (and sometimes sneaking a view of the fantastic interiors) of fellow Portola neighbors.
This was the Planet’s second trip on the tour and this time (after a very lazy breakfast) we decided to walk the hills between each garden. To our surprise we actually kept up with most of the people who travelled from garden to garden by car. So we would highly recommend to those planning to attend next year, to walk the entire tour. Just make sure you review the map beforehand to avoid any on route disagreements about directions.
Wandering into people’s home unannounced can feel a little odd. However, the warmth of the hosts quickly reminds you why this tour is so much fun and important. The tour, for me, is less about getting to look at flowers and fruits, but more about getting to meet and greet the wonderful people who live here. It’s hard to not sit down and chat with people for an hour at each garden, such is the friendliness and relaxed atmosphere within which you meet.
But chatter aside, the gardens are really center stage and rewarding. I’m constantly surprised at how much care people put into their yards and (being an Englishman myself) I can appreciate the quality of time people spend relaxing in their green landscaped labors of love. Just look at the photos below to see what I mean.
I asked Ruth Wallace, the creator and organizer of the tour, how she felt the event had gone. She told me,
I think the day went great. It was another beautiful autumn day in the Portola. I was thrilled that we were covered in the Sing Tao Daily and the San Francisco Chronicle. Some highlights to me were that we had a three-year old who sold cookies and lemonade to help raise money and a gardener who sold succulent starts to help out. What I love most about the garden tour is seeing neighbors walking about the neighborhood and greeting each other on the street. People who have lived here for just a few months took the tour as well as those who have lived here for decade upon decade explore their neighborhood. We also had visitors from Bakersfield, Los Angeles and Morgan Hill. The gardens are great, but the people really make it fun.
We couldn’t agree more with the last sentence. The event ended at the San Francisco School where everyone was able to enter into the raffle that comprised of well over 30 prizes. There was a real buzz of activity as people wandered the many items for raffle, eating and continuing to meet those from the neighborhood.
Free beer and music wound the day down and they are still counting the donations that will ultimately benefit The Portola Garden District Scholarship at City College of San Francisco for deserving students of the Environmental Horticulture and Floristy Department.
Have a look at the photo’s below and make sure that if you didn’t make the event this year, you get your walking shoes on next Sept.
Oh and p.s. if the gentleman I met along the tour who grows the peppers seen in the very first image at the top of this article reads this, can you please email firstname.lastname@example.org with details? We want to also try growing some in our own yard.