Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to visit two of the incredible private gardens that will be open during the “Enchanting Gardens in the Mountains” tour in Bonny Doon. Wow! If those two gardens are a fair sample of what you’ll see there, I can tell you that if you are able to attend only one garden tour this spring and summer, make it this one! Mark your calendar now: the event will be on Sunday June 10, from 10 a.m. to 5
p.m. Garden tour tickets are $20; they can be purchased now at Valley Churches United, 9400 Highway 9, Ben Lomond (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays); Scarborough Gardens, Scotts Valley; Mountain Feed & Farm Supply, Ben Lomond; San Lorenzo Garden Center, Santa Cruz; and The Garden Company, Mission Street, Santa Cruz. Garden addresses and maps are included with tickets.
All proceeds will go to Valley Churches United to provide food and emergency services to those in need in the San Lorenzo Valley, Scotts Valley, and Bonny Doon. With community support, the Ben Lomond nonprofit has provided these services and more for over 35 years. As there are no restaurants in Bonny Doon, gourmet lunches will be available for purchase. Visitors may choose from several lovely gardens where they may enjoy their lunch ($12). Please reserve your lunch in advance by calling 831-336-8098 or 831-469-0688. For more tour information, call 831-336-8258, ext. 228 or visit vcum.org.
I could easily have spent hours exploring the garden belonging to Nancy and Ed Lambing. The lovely entry garden is rather formal with clipped hedges and mature flowering trees but once you go around the house and into the rest of the garden, an intriguing and magical world opens up. A large collection of gorgeous bonsai greets you first, on two-tiered wooden shelves designed to best display the trees’ charms. Next to the house, comfortable outdoor furniture invites you to linger and gaze out over the rest of the large garden and the adjacent naturalistic koi pond, and a large round table is the perfect spot for outdoor meals. (The previous home owner also owned a spa store, and he used the garden as a laboratory, creating very realistic-appearing boulders, a rock waterfall, the large pond and a spa that is almost hidden as it is nestled among the rocks.) In their 19 years in the home, the Lambings have added a critter-excluding wire-enclosed vegetable and fruit garden (the fruit on large blueberry bushes was just beginning to ripen), a capacious greenhouse, a meadow, an amazing tree house with platform leading to a structure in an adjacent tree with a zip line (any grandchild’s delight!), and many garden “rooms” that invite the visitor to enter and explore and that feature the special plants collected by Nancy Lambing. (Ed Lambing told me that his wife is the garden designer, that he is “just the guy who turns her ideas into reality.”) One such special plant is a young Edgeworthia chrysanthia, featured prominently in a jade-colored ceramic pot in the center of a shady garden room; when it matures, it will bear fragrant golden puffball flowers and cast its perfume throughout the garden.
The second garden I visited belongs to Seba Walker and James Kent. Walker is an artist and since 1980, this delightful garden has been her palette, allowing her to “paint with plants” and other materials. Winding pathways under ancient conifers lead the visitor through the one acre site; plants and structures have been placed so that only a small portion of the garden is visible from each vantage point, inviting you to explore and discover what is just out of sight. Mature plantings such as climbing roses, whimsical structures including the artist’s studio and beautifully organized tool shed, inviting seating areas and statuary, and lush perennial gardens in both sunny and shady areas delight the senses.
If you have other plan on June 10, cancel them! This tour is not to be missed! I will definitely be there, to happily revisit the two gardens described, and to explore the other five gardens that are on the tour.
Garden tips are provided courtesy of horticulturist Sharon Hull of the San Lorenzo Garden Center. Contact her at 831 423-0223.
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