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

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