Monday, April 30, 2012

Neal Baer and Gerrie Smith Garden

THIS SPRAWLING property has a variety of plant habitats, some suited to drought-tolerant plants and some in which riparian plants thrive. Unifying the gardens is the use of local boulders, river cobble and native slate.

THE SITE was designed by environmentally friendly construction company Polly Osborne Architects from Los Angeles.  Salvage wood was used in doors, windows, and cabinetry. Great care was given to preserving the landscape and bringing the outside into the structures. The desgn fulfills 2 goals of the owners: to provide an oasis from city life and to provide habitat for native birds and wildlife.

A COLLAGE of hanging plants is found on the garage door as you enter the driveway. Fescue, yarrow, strawberries and succulents are at home here. Drought- tolerant plants such as salvias, buckwheat, Redbuds, California lilac, Matilija Poppies and gray Santolina grow in the dry entrance area, along with the Sycamores that line the drive.

AN ORCHARD of 8 mature olive trees is the backdrop for  the gray leaves and purple blooms of the Bush Lupine.  Nearby is a Pomegranate grove.

TWO TOWERING Valley Oaks draw attention to the front door of the main house. Fescue, Deer Grass, and Mexican Weeping Bamboo add the greenery. The riparian area at the back of the house, which stretches to the sandy beach of the Kaweah River, is home to Juncus, Iris, Blue-eyed Grass, ferns, and Coral Bells, which relish the shade under huge Sycamores, Alders, Redbuds and Willows that are native to the site.

ADDITIONAL plants you will see, tucked in and around various structures, include Spice Bush, Photinia, Verbena, Dogwood, Guava, Gooseberry, Bailey Acacia, Cotoneaster, Bird of Paradise, Primrose, jasmine, and Lillis of the Valley.

Food Fare:
Artist Painting on site: Wendy McKellar
Art of Garden: Nadi Spencer, Geoffrey Glass


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Nataliya and Greg Dixon Garden

Painting by Nadi Spencer

THE MIDDLE FORK of the Kaweah River is the focal point of this garden. As you stroll alongside it you will hear the sounds of birds, frogs and the current while being cooled by the constant breezes that move through the native Willows and Sycamores that thrive along the riverbank.

THE MAIN part of this garden was planted only 5 years ago, and the lower lawn was planted just last year. The Dixons' cousin, from Treats Landscaping, in Claremont, CA, designed the site, while the Dixons did the planting.

THE DIXONS have used a mix of natives and non-natives to provide year-round color. The Rose garden is a favorite of Nataliya's.  Day Lilies, Cyclamen and Coral Bells catch the eye while walking the path to the "Grandparents' House".  The home is set off by Roses, Camelias, Fringe Flowers, and Evergreen Magnolias. Privacy screening is created by Hopseed Bushes, Photinia, Alders, and large Pride of Madeiras. Pines, a small grove of Coast Redwoods, and a Smoke Tree also screen the property.

HEIGHT in the front garden is provided by several Smoke Trees, a Saucer Magnolia, and Crepe Myrtles. to the right of the front door are showy Weeping junipers, their gray foliage a nice contrast to other plants. Sago Palms are spotted throughout the planting island.

A TIERED lawn sweeps dramatically down to the river. The upper lawn area is planted in Fescue, while the unmown hillside is Creeping Red Fescue. Beyond the hillside is stunningly beautiful Perennial Ryegrass turf. ycamores, Livve Oaks, and Valley Oaks frame this serene setting.

Food Fare: The Village Market
Artist Painting on Site: Sharon Banister
Artists: George Smith, Pam Lockhart
Art of Garden: Nadi Spencer 

Ted and Terri Hiltel Garden

Portrait of Terri by Nadi Spencer

THIS WELL-ESTABLISHED garden, designed by the Hiltels, has grown in increments since the house was built in 1979. The river-front property is known for its mature, multi-trunked Oak trees. two mature monterey Pines, one planted after its tenure as the family's Christmas tree, provide contrast to the Oaks.

ENJOY the Azaleas and a mature native Ginger at the front door. Terri's fondness for hydrangeas, Camelias, and ferns is obvious on the front porch. Two large Lilacs flank the entryway. This locale affords excellent views of the South Fork of the Kaweah River and, as you cross the deck, a spectacular scene of a waterfall above the family swimming hole emerges.

TERRI refers to her garden as a "Renegade Garden" because the plants tend to do their own thing. Santolina, Rosemary,Forsythia and Crepe Myrtle run wild in front of the greenhouse, which is open for viewing. Walking along the driveway to the left of the house you will find White Rock Roses, Butterfly Bushes, Willows, Dogwood trees

THE HILTELS previously owned an antique store, so some favorite treasures are tucked into the gardens, and rivers rocks and boulders have been incorporated into the design. Except for the moving of the largest boulders, all the rock-work was done by Ted. And look for the charming fire pit surrounded by Raywood Ash, Butterfly Busheds and French lavender.

Food Fare: Sierra Subs and Salads
Artist Painting on Site: Nadi Spencer
Music: COS Cello Ensemble

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kathleen McCleary Garden

KATHLEEN purchased her property in 1999. The house she built replaced the one destroyed by fire. In the 12940s the previous owner removed the top of a hill to make a flat home site, so today Kathleen's garden rests on hardpan rather than topsoil, which created challenging conditions.

THREE RIVERS architect Gary Cort planned for a garden that would be entered through the house. guests on the Garden Tour will have the advantage of seeing it this way, and will be able to view photos taken before and during construction.

THE GOALS for kathleen's garden are low maintenance, low water, and to cover bare dirt without mulching. She has a great love of wildlife and lives with the gophers, deer and other animals that prey on local landscaping. Her garden consists of native plants, which provide a natural habitat for wildlife. All water is provided via a 120-year-old ditch.

REPURPOSING is seen throughout the garden. Rock walls, stone walks, rustic fences are all made from original material found on the property. The folk art fence now serves as a bird-feeder. A circular stone sitting area was built by Mike Brinkley using river rock. The plants surrounding it include California Wild Rose, Texas Ranger, Mexican Feather Grass, Chinese Pistache, and various sages.

RIMMING the back garden are Deodar Cedars, California Buckeyes, Bay Laurel, and Crepe Myrtle. Stroll beneath them on the trail leading to the historic Kaweah Post Office that is also owned by Kathleen.

SEE Desert Willow, Abelias, Japanese Maples, Azaleas, Lilacs, and Sycamore as you meander. Enhancing the purple-themed patio are Vinca, lavender, , purple chair and umbrella. And don't miss the pond complete with Cattails, Juncus, Bamboo and Duck Weed. You are invited to ramble through the countryside; her property encompasses 32 acres of Oak forest, Manzanita, and Native Iris.

Food Fare:
Artist Painting on Site: Miriam Briks
Art of Garden: Nadi Spencer
Music: Kevin Yee

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Painting Yokuts

NADI SPENCER put her own slant on the view of statues at William Shatner's Garden. His Belle Reve horse ranch on the South Fork of the Kaweah River in Three Rivers, CA, boasts an amazing river walk dotted with redwood sculptures by R.L. Blair, life-sized depictions of Yokuts men women and children performing tasks such as basket-weaving, story-telling and wood-carrying. Nadi chose to paint three of these scenes, using friends as models, to make the village come to life. To see more of her process, go HERE.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Shatner Garden

NOT MANY celebrities would give carte blanche to complete strangers to wander about their grounds for a day. But actor William Shatner is doing just that, allowing access to his Belle Reve horse ranch in support of Three Rivers School.

ENTER the riverside site through the archway, custom-built by Three Rivers woodworker Sal Natoli. Dozens of other sculptures are awaiting discovery. A life-size fountain sculpture of a horse takes a drink while seeing its reflection (which is more sculpture). This piece was created by Douwe Blumberg, an acclaimed sculptor who has created over 200 private and public commissions.

SEVERAL PATHS meander beneath the native oak canopy, but all lead to one place: the river. The mystical Indian Spirit Garden is enhanced by redwood sculptures created by R. L. Blair, the artist who created Critter Country and Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland and Disney World. There are sculptures of Native American men, women, and children performing tasks such as basket-weaving, wood gathering, teaching children, and grinding acorns. This is a memorable tribute to the Yokuts, who were the original inhabitants of this beautiful site, as evidenced by the prehistoric mortar holes in the granite slabs on the knoll overlooking the river.

A BRIDGE leads across a tributary of the river to an island that contains a young grove of giant sequoias, dubbed "Little Grant Grove", in tribute to the Grant Grove in nearby King Canyon National Park, and named after William Shatner's grandson, Grant.

THE MAJORITY of vegetation in this garden is native to the Sierra foothills. Oaks, sycamores, and alders provide the shade and the river provides the moisture for the native grasses and ferns.

AN ORCHARD lines the country road that leads from the home, and the almond trees are in full bloom. Salt Creek Ridge (north) and Dennison Mountain (east) create the valley where this special property is located.

Food Fare: The Gateway Restaurant
Artist painting on site: Nadi Spencer, Wendy McKellar 
Artists showing: Bill Clark, Sam McKinney, Linda Victory

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lahmann Garden

BARBARA LAHMANN'S Texas grandfather and French grandmother, Jim and Claire Livingston, purchased this 11-acre property on the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River in 1936.  They built their adobe home using WPA plans purchased from the federal government for 25 cents. They moved into it with their family during Christmas 1938.

CLAIRE LIVINGSTON designed her home in the French country tradition; Jim Livingston built the home. In 1998, Steve and Barbara Lahmann moved into the home, and, since then, have lovingly restored the original adobe.

IN THE GARDEN, paths meander through specimen after specimen of old-world plantings, Mediterranean plants, 60-year-old olive trees (planted by the Livingstons), stands of aloes in full bloom, fields of lavender, and dozens of potted geraniums... "because they were Grandmother's favorite flowers," says Barbara. She describes her garden as "California mission". The Lahmanns' two donkeys add authenticity to the mission design.

VISITORS will see Euonymus shrubs, flowering Quince, blooming wisteria vines, irises, and a lilac bush from Barbara's grandmother's original garden. The garden is terraced and culminates at a hill of pungent rosemary and lavender. There are more than 20 species of lavender on the property. The Spanish lavender is currently in full bloom.

IN ADDITION, Barbara has a large herb garden, a lavender display garden, a perennial garden, and stands of artichokes and succulents.

Food Fare:
Artist on site: Jana Botkin