You still have time to smell the roses. Even if you missed the 2011 Santa Clara Spring Garden tour May 7, you can drop by the Harris-Lass House Museum any day, peek over the white picket fence surrounding the historic 1865 house and garden, and breathe deeply. The masses of vibrant roses in full bloom throughout the garden will catch your breath. To venture beyond the fence, stop by on a Saturday or Sunday between noon and 4 p.m. But do it soon—don’t wait for the blossoms to fall.
The Harris-Lass House Museum, 1950 Homestead Road, was the starting point for the annual garden tour sponsored by the Historic Preservation Society of Santa Clara (www.harrislass.org) as a fundraiser to support the interior upkeep of the house. Four nearby private gardens—the farthest just 1.8 miles away—were showcased on the tour.
“We think it’s fun to give people an idea of what they can do with their gardens and show off gardens in the neighborhood,” says Sue Harper, Society secretary.
“Walking the neighborhood and looking for yards that are different or very well-maintained or something extra is how I look for gardens,” says Bob Byrd, Society president and garden tour co-chair with Anita Marencia.
The four unique gardens chosen for the tour are not just for show. All are landscaped for relaxation and have amenities for entertaining family and friends. The house and serene gardens of Maggie and Paul Osuna are around the corner from the Harris-Lass House.
“We did all the work ourselves,” says Maggie. She credits her husband with doing everything from building a wooden arbor and installing the sprinklers to building a lattice-work wall with climbing Jasmine to screen a tool shed.
“It took us years before we decided what to do with some of the land,” she says. Osuna is partial to the Japanese red maple trees planted everywhere. Container pots are clustered to add color and can be moved around. Using perennials and a drip system cuts down on upkeep. The couple’s son was married last June under a wisteria-covered arch in the front garden.
Marya Andrepont and Brad Budinger also hosted a wedding and reception in the relaxing garden of their Santa Clara Historic Home, a queen Anne Victorian house built in 1889 on Fremont Street.
“I wanted my yard to feel like a park,” says Andrepont. And, indeed, it does with its expanse of lawn, park benches, Victorian lampposts, and two fountains (from SummerWinds Nursery). Santa Clara County Vector Control (www.sccvector.org) gave the couple free mosquito fish for the fountains.
Entering the back garden of Diane and Dan Serrano’s Lindentree Lane home, is like arriving at Club Med in Tuscany. Beautiful landscaping is a backdrop for summertime living and entertaining around a raised pool, Jacuzzi spa, wooden arbor, and barbeque grill. A Mugnaini wood fired pizza oven is the garden focal point.
“Always start with a focal point and go from there in designing your garden,” suggests Diane.
Denise and Jerry Bachur designed their recently renovated house and garden on Homestead Road as a place to unwind at the end of the work day and to entertain Denise’s big Italian family. The garden has a soothing pondless waterfall, a fire pit, a gas grill, and a bocce ball court.
“We’re lucky. We’re a big family, we live close, and we like each other. We love to get together,” says Denise.
“I’m a non-cooking husband,” adds Jerry. “The relatives come over and do it.”
Between garden viewings, friends Bernie Romasko and Lavon Bailly returned to the Harris-Lass House and had complementary refreshments in the shade of the large Bay tree that dominates the garden. Others browsed for Mother’s Day gifts in the Tank House Gift Shop and amongst vendors’ tables of garden items and crafts.
“I enjoyed the warmth of the people who wanted to educate us about their gardens,” says Bailly. “The gardens are so neat and beautiful. And it’s good of Mother Nature to have everything in bloom!”