These homeowners created a labyrinth with 80 lavender plants as part of their garden. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Lush. Personal. Colorful. Vibrant. Creative.

This describes the yards featured in this year’s Paradise Garden Tour on the first weekend of June.

If one were to have only seen these six gardens and not looked up to see the remains of charred trees from the 2018 Camp Fire, it would have been hard to know these properties were in the center of one the state’s worst infernos.

Grass was a rarity on the Paradise Garden Tour. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

It proves the resiliency in Mother Nature and the people who continue to call this town home.

Each homeowner had a story to tell about how their garden came to fruition. Some left it up to the landscaper to work his magic, others created a sanctuary that reflected who they are.

I would have loved to seen the before pictures for comparison. Not all were started from scratch after the fire.

These particular gardens were chosen because each is an example of drought tolerant and fire-wise landscaping.

Chunks of concrete from a home burned in the Camp Fire find a second home in this garden. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

My favorite was The Miller Garden because it had personality. The owner bought the property in August 2020 and started on the landscaping last June. Amazing what a wet winter and warm spring can do in terms of spurring plant growth.

As an ode to the fire, she took pieces of her crumbled driveway to outline the succulent and cactus garden.

The Slocum Garden lost nearly all of its vegetation in the fire.

The tour booklet says, “I didn’t let our cleanup crew touch the Japanese maple that was now totally burned. In the spring of 2019, we saw one small leaf appear. Now the tree is our Japanese bush!”

Using rocks on the property to create a sign of love. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

While this front yard is beautiful, to me it was too manicured, almost fake if that’s possible. My guess is the owners only see it when they pull up to the house. Most of their time is undoubtedly on the back deck or poolside because they sit on a canyon next to Billie Park.

The Hawe Garden is full of fun—gnomes, four fairy gardens and a bike that is now a garden ornament.

The booklet says, “After the fire they were sending drones over neighborhoods for people to see the destruction and as it went over our property, we were amazed that we could still see our front yard—the blue pathway and bushes along the front fence. It was basically not touched by the fire. Those plants near the house had some fire damage, but they survived.”

While no one garden wowed me to where I wanted to go home and re-create something (or ask the live-in gardener, aka mom, to do so), I loved the attitude of the owners, the pride in their property, and willingness to share what they have learned with all who came by.

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