Backyards on display

Published 7:45 am Monday, June 28, 2010

People pulling up to Bob and Valerie Jessen’s southwest Austin home were treated to a fantastic front yard, with brightly-colored flowers and plants.

But it was only the introduction to the main attraction — the back yard.

Sprawling down a hill from a brick patio, the back yard — if it could adequately be termed as such — contained a vast array of hosta plants, a trickling stream with small waterfalls, a small pond. Trailing down a short ways further the manicured portion of the yard ended in a grove of trees, like walking from the city to the woods.

“I’m just amazed by this,” Vaye Anderson said, visiting the home as the first stop in the Spruce Up Austin Yard and Garden Tour Saturday.

“I’m really in envy of these people.”

Six homes were open to the public Saturday for the SUA Yard and Garden Tour’s fourth time around, a step up from years previous that included just five stops.

People taking part in the tour were treated to a wide variety of homes that was just as uniquely creative as the last.

Debbie Rassmussen, who runs a licensed daycare out of her southwest Austin home, displayed what could be done even when your backyard is a playground.

“I wanted to show how to incorporate a swingset with landscaping around it,” Rassmussen said as she greeted visitors to her backyard, many of them going straight to her snowdrift clematis plant that clung to various parts of her yard.

“Every person who has toured has asked about it,” she said.

While there was certainly much to see along the way, the event is more than a simple tour of admiration.

“This is just an opportunity to get in the backyard of people and get ideas,” said Kelly Lady, a member of SUA. “To come up with summer projects.

“These are, once again, beautiful homes,” she continued. “It amazes me what people can come up with.”

For the owners of these homes, who put plenty of labor into their projects, it comes down to a love of gardening and being outside.

Bob Jessen strolled through his backyard, answering plenty of questions. It was easy to see the pride he took in he his wife’s work.

“We’re into gardening with wildlife in mind,” he said. “You do what you have to, to get along with the deer. We’re always in transition. Try new things.”

Jessen didn’t need to say much that makes it any clearer. In fact, what he did say could almost sum up the tour itself.

“We’re having fun,” he said. “It’s all right. Nothing is wrong.”