Down the garden path | May 11, 2012 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - May 11, 2012

Down the garden path

Tour 10 special gardens and help our animal friends

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

The seventh annual Hidden Gardens of the Valley tour next Sunday offers more than just 10 special yards to meander through and enjoy -- Buzz Bertolero, the Dirt Gardener, will be at one venue to answer gardening questions while another site will feature a watercolorist, and yet another home will host an animal boutique.

"This year every single garden is going to have activities," said organizer Charli Hyden. "We were very successful in getting 10 gardens this year. We have three in Ruby Hill, which is unusual."

The event, which takes place Sunday, May 20, is a benefit for Valley Humane Society.

"What I've learned is that people who love their gardens and who love animals are the most wonderful people in the world," Hyden said. "And I can't believe how many beautiful gardens we have in Pleasanton."

Each garden on the tour this year is special in its own way, she explained, and only three are repeats from the last seven years.

"One lady does all the gardening on three-quarters of an acre herself," Hyden said. "It has different vignettes, vegetable, tropical, succulent. At another one, the whole back yard is pots. It's cute and clever."

The pot lady will be selling her Blooming Pots that day.

"We try to get big gardens, medium and small -- we want everyone to be able to identify," Hyden said. "There are some of the cutest ideas you've ever seen. At one, the husband threw out his shoes and she turned them into planters for succulents."

Tickets, with a map and the 10 addresses and garden descriptions, will suggest a variety of routes so everyone can travel from home to home all day without congestion, Hyden said. The routes were also developed to be gas-friendly.

Downtown restaurants Stacey's Café and Redcoats British Pub are donating part of their profits that day to the Valley Humane Society if patrons show a tour ticket, so Hyden suggests visiting five gardens in the morning, eating lunch downtown, then visiting the others in the afternoon.

Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 the day of the tour. Tickets are for sale in Pleasanton at Valley Humane Society, 3670 Nevada St.; Towne Center Books, 555 Main St.; Serenity Stoneworks, 252 Main St.; and Western Garden Nursery, 2756 Vineyard Ave. They can also be purchased at

"We do have a lot of people that wait, I think because of the weather," Hyden said. "Last year it hailed, which was my worst nightmare."

Since the event is the weekend after Mother's Day, Hyden pointed out that two tickets would make a perfect gift for mom.

All proceeds help the programs and services of Valley Humane Society, which offers dog and cat adoption, humane education presentations and Canine Comfort visits. All animals are cared for at the facility until they are adopted out, and illnesses can be expensive.

"We have had two animals who have been sorely hurt," Hyden said. "One was Mandy -- we went out to the public and said, 'We need money -- this dog will either have to have a leg amputated or put a pin in it.' We got tremendous response. Now we have another little one, a schnauzer-poodle with a broken leg. Most of the money we spend is on medical."

Beautiful flowers, trees and shrubs, decorative fountains and statuary, and architectural elements such as gazebos, decks, outdoor kitchens and more -- enjoy it all at the Hidden Gardens of the Valley tour while helping improve the lives of our animal companions.


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