- Author: Betsy Buxton
On Sunday which happened to be May 5, I had the “honor “of going to Bruce’s SAW (Sacramento Area Woodworkers) Club’s annual Spring open workshop tour. I use the word “honor” since the only reason I got to go was to read the map and instructions on how to get from stop to stop. I usually do the map reading and checking for where to turn in advance; I am proud to say that I do my “job” well and we don’t get lost – too often, that is. When the destination is reached, it’s back to the books and magazines for me; I’m really not interested in the oohs and aahs from looking at various jigs, hand-made or store-bought, nor do I care for the difference between Delta and Dewalt tools ( the difference appears to me that Delta is blue and Dewalt is yellow and black) – potato/patato!
However, at the last stop, LuLu (my intrepid little pooch) indicated that a potty break was due! Getting out of the car, I walked past the workshop with the throng of men and 2 women looking around and found the true jackpot! The “Master Gardenering” spot of Citrus Heights!
Before me was a path of decomposed granite which led me forward into a small ravine filled with many Japanese maples (Acer palmatum). Here and there among the most amazing mossy boulders were ferns, azaleas, and other wonderful plants growing as through it was natural habitat! As I hung onto LuLu’s leash, I descended further into this quiet, but alive garden. The wind going through the huge oaks, redwoods, and bay trees was audible but I could not feel it; the Japanese maples moved not an inch! It was heavenly!
I noticed a house above this sunken area and figured I was in someone else’s yard so I scurried off. Coming back to the car, I suddenly noticed that there was a small orchard to my left and since it was next to the shop – they were still oohing and aahing—I decided to look through there. Pear trees, peaches, nectarines, 3 varieties of cherries, fig trees and 20(!) grape vines pruned up as standards 12 feet tall and 5 vines to a small square framework. These were stars of the property to me, yet they all went unnoticed by the others.
I asked our host, Marion Gribskov, about the orchard and about the unusual grapevine which was actually 3 vines, braided up to 7 feet and then presented as an espalier following the peaked side of the workshop. The answer was rather surprising, “My wife does all that!. When we left, I was invited to come back, although I wasn’t sure if it was just a courteous remark. I made up my mind to come back very soon and talk to Mrs. Marion!
The very next day, I called to make an appointment to come back and talk with the “head” gardener about the how and why of the garden. I’m so very glad I did! On Tuesday, I spent a most enjoyable 2 hours with Jean, who advised me right off that “I don’t really know what to do, but I just do it”.
Jean started her garden in 1996, knowing that she like the Japanese maples she saw at Capitol Nursery (since gone) and wanted to grow 1 or 2 in front of the main windows of the house for viewing. She now has a total of 89 and as many cultivars. She buys them from a man in the gardening trade in the Sacramento area who makes a yearly trip to the Oregon/Washington area to gather specimens and bring back to sell. She’s such a good client now that she gets 1st pick when he returns! The most help she has had was when a gardener she knew suggested and then made the paths through her garden ravine; she balked at first, but now is glad he did so as there are now “destinations” throughout the area, along with plenty of resting places.
Other than that help, she only has people come in to plant the new trees – she does the rest! I discover through the tour that she has rhododendrons (4 total) mainly growing up at the top of the property, where they can be easily seen thru the various layers of maple trees. At least 25 azaleas thrive as understory to the maples which are themselves the understory to the much larger oaks, redwoods, and bays. The most wonderful touch is that everything can be seen since the “skirts” of the large trees have been raised above eye-level, nothing is hidden or crowded.
I noticed that the main limbs of the maples were covered by the sturdy covering used to protect trees from weed-eaters and lawn mowers which are NOT used in the garden. I figured that rabbits and raccoons were a problem. Nope! The Japanese maples wear the protection due to sun scald AND the blows from branches falling from the oaks and bays! Their little limbs may bend a lot from dropped branches, but don’t break.
This woman has accomplished all this beauty and serenity through little help and without the trusty SUNSET GARDENING BOOK; I intend to buy her a copy; she deserves it.
PS: She buys most of her plants from QVC, the shopping network. How about them apples?