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

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lockhart Garden

GREG AND PAM LOCKHART 's 14-year-old garden is inspired by their love of California, Maui, and Mexico. It is bordered on one side by the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River and abuts the scenic Three Rivers Golf Course. Dozens of Bird of Paradise flowers border the property.

VISITORS will be greeting by drought-resistant Black Knight butterfly bushes and newly planted flowering ceanothus. Large stands of Pride of Madeira with tall blue stocks are currently in bloom. Clematis vines drape from the colonnade by the saltwater swimming pool. The structure is roofed with handmade clay tiles salvaged during a remodeling project at the Malibu Ghetty Museum.

IN ADDITION to the plants, a highlight of this garden is the infrastructure, which incorporates the creations of local artists and the homeowners. Jean Roy and Kevin Yee created the columns that enshrine a family kayaking adventure. Jean Roy built the tile mantle and fireplace by the pool, as well as the outdoor fire column. The collection of five tikis is the work of Zack Zachary, another Three Rivers artist.

PAM, a founding member of the Art Co-op in Three Rivers, created the mosaics seen in the patio decking. In addition, she designed their Mediterranean-style home, and husband Greg, with the couple's daughter Shea at his side, built it.

AN ARCH, fashioned from a large sycamore a casualty of time and weather, leading to the river, was built by family and friends, and will be the focal point of an upcoming wedding on the grounds.

THE GARDEN also features a raised bed for vegetable gardening. In Three Rivers, most vegetable gardens are raised and enclosed to ward off the insatiable gophers, deer, raccoons, and other critters looking for an easy meal.

Artist: Pam Lockhart
Music: Jesse Belman, Day Spencer

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dolson Garden

THIS PLACE looks like an oil painting! Then again, since homeowner Patsy Dolson is an artist with a studio on-site (built by husband Roland), the garden is featured in more than one of Patsy's paintings.

RESIDING at the base of Blossom Peak, in South Fork Estates, the custom-built storybook home boasts a yard based on a traditional English country garden. You know, the romantic ones with greens from grasses and mosses and every imaginable color of bloom coming from the flowerbeds, the trees, and the climbing vines, all of which is accessible by gravel walkways leading to garden nooks, crannies, and secret places. A rock drainage was designed to divert rainfall to the garden's frog pond.

HUNDREDS of bulbs dominate the landscape. In early spring, daffodils, forsythia, empress trees and native redbuds are in full bloom. California pepper trees, Japanese maples, and native oaks shade the grounds.

THE UTILITARIAN part of the garden includes cherry, apricot, peach, Fuyu persimmon, Golden Delicious apple, nectarine, Oklahoma Black apple, and citrus trees. There is a raised-bed vegetable garden behind the studio that also supplies the kitchen.

PATSY DOLSON is a former president of a Visalia garden club, and is one of the founding partners of the Art Co-op in Three Rivers, where she displays her oil paintings that depict her interest in country cottages, landscapes, and floral designs. Her studio will be open for viewing on the tour.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Powell Garden

GUESTS to this scenic property will first be greeted by blooming bushes of native lupine along the driveway that leads to a home built by the owner, George Powell. The 5 acres of grounds that surround the home were specifically developed for riverside garden parties. There are several paths that lead to the river.

GEORGE AND WIFE MARIE have owned their property for 40 years. George is a master carpenter who taught construction at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia for 20 years. Marie was the kindergarten teacher at Three Rivers School for 14 years. Enthusiastic supporters of the school, the Powells have generously opened their home and grounds.

THE HOME is exquisite in amenities and orientation, providing breathtaking views of a scenic section of the South Fork of the Kaweah River.Marie commented that the criteria she has used for plantings is that if the deer don't eat it, it stays.

THE SOLAR-POWERED home – which makes lavish use of wood and natural river rock – was built to the trajectory of the North Star to achieve a true north/south exposure. This allows the winter sun to warm the home while the hot summer sun is avoided. There is a solar garden and a fenced, raised-bed vegetable garden, along with a recently remodeled guesthouse. There is a gazebo by the river adjacent to the large fishpond that is home to albino catfish.

Food Fare:
Artist: Lisa Noel Jewelry

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St. Anthony Retreat Garden

ST. ANTHONY Retreat is a spiritual oasis for people of all ages for individual and group gatherings. It is a unique combination of park and garden that provides peace for the mind, body, and soul. Follow the walkways to discover the beauty of the landscape, both natural and manicured, while visting the Stations of the Cross statues that are tucked away among the trees and boulders.

BUILT in 1963 in the contemporary Franciscan Mission style, today St. Anthony Retreat provides a comfortable, peaceful, and naturally beautiful setting for retreats, as well as both religious and secular conferences and gatherings, with dining and overnight accommodations for up to 100 guests.

THE RETREAT is located on 60 acres overlooking the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River, 4 miles from the entrance to Sequoia National Park. At an elevation of 1,250 feet, St. Anthongy Retreat enjoys year-round access, well below the snow line. The grounds include landscaped gardens and courtyards, and magnificent views of the Sierra Nevada high country and its snow-covered mountains. Walking trails abound, meandering through open grasslands and blue oak woodlands that host a variety of animals, birds, and plants that are native to the Upper Sonoran Zone.

Food Fare:
Artist: Kacey Fansett