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PULLOUT SECTION A Danville Weekly Publication • Spring 2009

DOLORES FOX CIARDELLI

A 20-foot expanse serves as a family story wall with photographs from vacations and documents of their history.

“It’s a terraced garden. We designed it with a gazebo out over the pond, with lots of retaining walls and walks that go across streams.” Jan Hamby, Danville gardener extraordinaire

Designing a room to fit the family Blackhawk makeover creates a room no one wants to leave

DOLORES FOX CIARDELLI

The view from the gazebo at the bottom of Jan Hamby’s Danville yard is a large pond with a bridge framed by streams tumbling across garden paths.

Hillside in bloom

Paths, terraces and waterfalls transform sloping yard into a bit of paradise BY DOLORES FOX CIARDELLI an Hamby can take a hike alongside waterfalls right in her own back yard. Two years ago she transformed the hillside behind her Danville home into a verdant maze of terraced gardens, paths, falls and ponds. When everything is in bloom in the spring, “It’s breathtaking,” said Hamby. “In March 2007 we cleared the hillside except for the apple, pear and plum trees,” she recalled. On the south side she left four oaks— one estimated to be 300 years old—in the part

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of her yard she describes as “volunteer,” meaning the birds drop the seeds and the plants grow without fertilizer or watering. Hamby, a residential architect, had a large pond—35 feet by 40 feet—installed toward the bottom of her lot with an island and a bridge. Two streams cascade into it, a total of 13 waterfalls. Then she hooked up with landscape artist Kristin Yanker-Hansen, who designed the paths and the terraced gardens. “All I did was approve—wholeheartedly,” Hamby said. “For three whole days we vis-

ited wholesale nurseries, as far as Santa Cruz and Monterey.” Two pairs of gates that mirror the design details in the arbors above and are reminiscent of Tobi gates lead to different sections of the yard. The first, at the end of the driveway, opens onto a stunning view of Mount Diablo directly across the valley. Near the house are several decks, places to sit and feast your eyes on the distant view or the profusion of garden color and the sound of splashing Continued on PAGE 7

BY DOLORES FOX CIARDELLI Most people decorate their living room and dining room twice in their lifetime, said designer Dorene Gomez. These rooms are mostly neutral, and people may change their accent pieces for a new look. “But a family room is redone every 10 years,” she said. “It gets more wear and tear.” Plus people spend more time in it, and they are ready for something new. Sometimes there is nothing wrong with a family room; it just gets a little “tired.” So people call in a decorator. Enter Gomez, a designer with J. Hettinger Interiors in Danville. She said when she begins a project she meets with the clients to learn what they have in mind. Then she spends an hour or two—or three—at their home. “You have to know about the people,” she said. “You want the personality of themselves to come out.” She also wants to learn their expectations—how much the room will be used; what they want replaced and what is to stay; how much seating they’d like; and whether they are budget-minded. “Some people say, ‘Make it pretty,’” said Gomez. “Some say, ‘I don’t want too much clutter.’” Her latest redesign of a family room was in a 14-year-old Blackhawk home. Its owners said the well-used room was starting to show wear and tear, plus there was sun damage to the carpet and drapes. Gomez first met with them in August. “They wanted to make their family room functional, comfortable and colorful,” she said. They requested a room that made them want to stay in it. “I brought part of their lives into the room—lots of pictures and their favorite books,” explained Gomez. The family has two teenage sons. The owners wanted to get away from the mauve carpet they’d had but still wanted the family room to tie in with the wallpaper of the adjoining kitchen, which has tiny fruit branches. “They wanted something completely different and they wanted something warm,” said Gomez. “Now it is livable and warm—but sophisticated.” Gomez added furniture with fabrics in several colors and textures. The couch color is similar to that of the walls, with a slubbed texture, and the chairs are a crisp blue green with large pillows in compliContinued on PAGE 8


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Page 2 • March 13, 2009 • Spring Home & Garden


Take back your bird feeder from the squirrels Most effective tactic is taste aversion Frolicking in the trees, foraging for acorns on the ground, even begging for a peanut or two at your back deck—squirrels can be cute—until they stake their claim to your bird feeder. Squirrels love birdseed as much as birds do, and both groups of backyard pets routinely battle for rights to the backyard feeder. It’s not an equal fight—most squirrels are bigger than the average bird, so chances are they’re going to devour all the seed. Squirrels are the number one problem for people who like to feed the birds. They can eat large amounts of seed, destroy bird feeders, and chase birds away. When squirrels claim your feeder as their territory, it is hard to get rid of them. They will take up residence close to their feeding territory, and they’ll soon have babies at your feeder as well. Squirrels can be relentless in their perpetual pursuit of your bird feed, especially if you have chosen to let the birds dine on sunflower seeds or chopped peanuts. However, it doesn’t really matter if you’re giving your feathered friends sunflower seed, millet seed, safflower seed, chopped peanuts or cracked corn, the fact of the matter is that squirrels will eat pretty much whatever the birds will, and most squirrels are hard-wire programmed not to share their food. Bird-lovers have tried countless devices and gimmicks over the years to thwart seedstealing squirrels. One of the most effective

tactics is taste aversion. Simply put, if the seed you serve tastes bad to squirrels, they’ll seek sustenance elsewhere. Studies show that mammals, including squirrels, have receptors on the tongue and in the mouth that react to chili peppers by sending heat signals to the brain. Although there’s no actual damage, the sensation makes it seem as though the mouth is on fire. Birds lack the receptors that make chewing chili peppers such an eye-watering experience for mammals—they can eat peppers all day long and never feel a thing. Put pesky squirrels on notice that your bird feeder is meant to be bird-exclusive by stocking the feeder with products that incorporate habanero pepper. The feed appeals to birds, but turns squirrels off with a chili-pepper oil. Cornell University scientists tested the technology and found it highly effective in reducing the number of squirrel visits at the feeder. Another option is Flaming Squirrel Seed Sauce, a nutritional birdseed supplement that contains all-natural, 100 percent food grade ingredients with a super-hot and spicy flavor. Add this chili pepper formula to any quality birdseed to reduce squirrel visits, or spray it on garden plants to keep squirrels and other mammals from digging and eating plants. —ARA Content

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How does your garden grow? Danville has four nurseries ready to help By Geoff Gillette If the adage about a man’s home being his castle is true, what does that say about the yard surrounding the castle? For many Danville area residents, it is a refuge, a place to sit out on a balmy summer night watching the stars and enjoying the company of friends and family. For others it is a place of artistic expression, where arrangements of flowers, shrubs, plants and ornamental decoration nourish the creative temperament of the owner. Regardless of how it is viewed, residents have a virtual cornucopia of choices when it comes to finding the right plant or decoration for their yard. Danville is home to four nurseries, scattered throughout the town, each offering something a bit different to satisfy every buyer.

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Nestled beneath the shade structure covering much of its property, Sloat Garden Center displays an array of perennials and annuals. “If you think it’s colorful now, just wait a few weeks,” said manager Dustin Strobel.

The company has been in existence since 1885 with the current owners taking over in 1947. They built at their current location at 800 Camino Ramon in 1964 and provided a wide range of services until 2006, when they closed down as part of the development plan for what is now the Rose Garden. Store Manager Alex Flores said that since re-

Navlet’s Garden Center Navlet’s (pronounced Nahv-layz) Garden Center is enjoying a nearly brand new commercial space where they reopened in April 2007.

opening, Navlet’s has been working to provide a broad range of items to customers. The store has a large air-conditioned indoor showroom packed with fertilizers, seeds, tools and a wide variety of gardening implements. Outside, there are rows and rows of plants, shrubs and trees delineated by such factors as shade, water consumption and size. In

addition, plenty of outdoor ornamentation is featured, including terra cotta pots of every conceivable shape and size. Flores said that what sets Navlet’s apart is variety. “We’re not the cheapest store in town and we’re not the most expensive one either. What sets us apart is we carry a wider range

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Another area they will be focusing on this summer will be edible gardening. Flores said that with the worsening economy more and more people are looking at planting gardens and raising their own vegetables.

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Statuary, trellises and fountains are arranged at the end of each row at Tassajara Nursery. Among the decorations are pieces imported from all over Italy that can be incorporated into a landscape theme.

of plants, a wider range of products. Synthetic and organic fertilizers are a real boon for us. We carry a lot of the organics. People are being more conscious about how they raise their plants and so they are buying fertilizers or insecticides,� he explained. Navlet’s is part of a chain of four stores, which Flores said gives them the ability to control inventory more carefully and alter inventory to answer a need. “One of the things we’re expecting to see this year is drought tolerant plants or plants that are water wise,� he said.

Sloat Garden Center has become well known in the neighborhoods in and around its 828 Diablo Road location. East Bay General Manager Dustin Strobel said that in the seven years the company has been in this location, where Diablo Road turns east at El Cerro Boulevard, the nursery has gotten to know area gardening groups and Scout troops by offering horticulture classes and tours. “The way we look at it,� Strobel said, “is that we’re serving the customer. We care about the person, we care about their vision.� He said that service is something they pride themselves on. “We do house calls for free. We give classes all the time. I go out and give talks to the garden clubs. We really try to stay connected with the community,� he said. Sloat’s facility is almost entirely outdoors, spread out over a broad area. Strobel said that as the customers’ interests have changed over time they have adapted to meet those needs. “One of the things that sets us apart is that we have very substantial sections of edibles, for those who want to start growing some of their own vegetables, and natives, too. And all of our edibles are all in one spot, from all the little tiny herbs all the way up to our 24inch box fruit trees,� he stated. The various plants are also grouped by type, connected by wide rows peppered with outdoor statuary, fountains and other ornamental decorations. Strobel pointed to one of the store’s highlights, its large collection of ceramic pots, which they offer at a lower price because they obtain them directly from Asia. Sloat also provides mulch and top soil in bulk quantities through their adjoining facility. “If you have a big project and can get Continued on PAGE 10

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These gates open not only onto a stunning view of Mount Diablo but a breathtaking yard of waterfalls, paths and floral delights.

PHOTOS BY Dolores Fox Ciardelli

A pond-side gazebo is shaded by oak trees and can be reached by a variety of attractive streamside paths.

Hillside

Continued from page 1

water at your feet. Hamby specified that the steps down the hillside be wide and deep to make the paths easier to traverse. As she walked up and down talking about her garden plans for this spring, she pointed out plants and features, and tugged at a weed here and there. “I’m a compulsive weed puller,” she said with a laugh. She also keeps an eye out for signs of her nemeses—the gophers, skunks, possums and the raccoons, which were responsible for the demise of 150 mosquito fish and six koi that once swam in her pond. An eight-foot fence keeps out the deer. Each retaining wall is at eye level with the path in front of it for easier appreciation—and maintenance—of its foliage. The paths cross the streams and Hamby demonstrated how easy and delightful it is to put a hand under the tumbling water. The paths lead to a deck at the bottom of the yard, a peaceful gazebo, a place to sit and to gaze at the mesmerizing streams. A stone walkway leads from there along the pond to the shady volunteer part of the garden and up to a more formal plot where Hamby grows vegetables. Along the house are rows of rose bushes—and a stone with

Visit the gardens What: Ninth annual Garden Tour sponsored by the Danvillle-Alamo Branch of the American Association of University Women When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Friday-Saturday, May 8-9 Cost: $30 if postmarked by May 2: $35 thereafter; $25 for seniors 65-plus Tickets: Mail check to Danville-Alamo AAUW EF, with self-addressed, stamped envelope to AAUW Garden Tour, P.O. Box 996, Alamo 94507. In April, tickets will be available at Leku Eder, 178 E. Prospect Ave., Danville Benefits: AAUW Educational Foundation; www.aauw-da.org

carved words: “Grow dammit.” “You should have humor in your garden,” Hamby noted in her cheery Massachusetts accent. That side yard leads through an arbor into the enclosure that approaches the front door, a private garden with a lawn and high fences covered with vegetation, and a fountain sculpture. On the other side are the gates leading back to the driveway and the real world. When the Hambys bought their home

Every corner of the yard holds a surprise such as this Euphoria Tasmanian Devil.

42 years ago, it was surrounded by walnut orchards. “We bought it because it was a view lot,” Jan recalled. Their three daughters used to slide down the hill on saucers, play baseball on the lower level, and have sleep-outs. They also enjoyed tire swings hanging from the old oak tree. Now a beach of large pebbles leads into the pond, and Hamby says her grandchildren enjoy cruising a remote control boat around the water and under the bridge. Some plants remain from the original garden. A primrose in the side yard trumpets its cheery colors in the shadow of a daffodil. In the intervening decades, Jan Hamby, who is the president of two garden clubs, has added myriad plants and flowers, experimented, worked with her landscape artist and her gardener, Juan Rodriguez, and derived much pleasure from her yard. Hamby’s domain will be part of the AAUW Garden Tour on May 8-9 for the first time. “Last year I had five different tours,” she said. Now she is looking forward to sharing the hillside paradise with those touring in May. “I’ll be out there talking to everyone,” she said. n

Paths were designed to pass by waterfalls frequently, a chance to hold out a hand for a refreshing splash.

A flagstone path leads from the gazebo under large oak trees through the “volunteer” part of the yard, where birds drop the seeds and no fertilizer or watering are needed.

Another pair of gates leads to and from the front yard, with a lawn area, fountain and fences covered with foliage. March 13, 2009 • Spring Home & Garden • Page 7


Designing

of the family,” she said. “I mixed the frames up a little, and added original Continued from page 1 pieces of artwork.” A clock adds mentary fabrics. color and variety. On the other side New oak flooring ties in with the of the room are photos of other relakitchen flooring, and it has a dark tives. mahogany band around the outside In the corner against the wall, of the room. The walls are painted Gomez designed a reading nook for an earthern bisque. the husband with a comfortable chair “The room looks 20-25 percent and a light in front of built-in booklarger,” said Gomez. shelves on the intersecting wall. The The curtains are a darker pattern, chair can be pulled further into the with side panels with room for additional goblet sleeves and seating. The wall was reeded rods, and also designed to look Roman shades. The good from the chair French doors openwith items hung at ing onto the yard the lower eye-level. have a matching Next to the chair Roman valance with hangs a framed rea triangular overlay cord of the family’s of silk. ancestors passing “They wanted through Ellis Island maximum seating,” in 1906. Gomez noted. “I While some added a sofa with people request an attractive chaise “minor” conversaDorene Gomez, lounge plus two tion areas, such as designer oversized chairs that a grouping in an swivel, and ottointimate corner, mans.” this family wanted With another family, Gomez a “major” conversation area. The said, she probably would have put room gathers around the large slate an armoire holding the television fireplace, which Gomez said was an against the 20-foot wall, which was asset in the decorating. heavily fauxed dark green. But this “The slate fireplace has different family said TV is not important to textures and colors and ties in nicethem so she kept the set in the side ly with the kitchen,” she noted. bookshelf, mounted so it could Speakers are hidden near the come out of the wall and swivel. ceiling. “Music is important to Gomez considered putting furni- them,” Gomez said. ture against the large wall but the cli She was pleased that the family ents wanted the room to look more likes to mix modern with traditionopen. So she hung family photos al so she chose a metal sculpture to framed in groupings, many of scenes hang over the slate fireplace. taken on vacations. “It’s a story wall “You will never see two of these

“You have to

know about the people. You want the personality of themselves to come out.”

Dolores Fox Ciardelli

This Blackhawk family room underwent a transformation from pleasant but faded to colorful, warm and inviting— and distinctive to the owners.

alike,” said Gomez. She tried out many pieces in that spot—including a mirror—but when she hung this sculpture, everyone agreed it belonged. “They wanted a room that was well planned out and they wanted

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Material may cost more up-front, but lasts longer, doesn’t fade When it comes to home improvements, deck systems top the list with an estimated 4 million new decks built annually in the U.S. and 40 million remodeled decks gracing today’s homes. This rising trend has led manufacturers to offer a wider variety of deck materials, styles, and options, but choices can be overwhelming. While wood has traditionally won the popularity contest for decks due to its natural appearance, vinyl is becoming a choice material for outdoor home entertaining due to its combination of carefree maintenance, aesthetics and value. Why are more people “decking out” their homes with vinyl? One big reason is time. Working families value leisure time more than ever because they have less time to maintain their outdoor environments. Vinyl decks are virtually maintenance-free, requiring only a yearly power-wash to maintain, whereas wood fades and deteriorates without costly regular stain and sealant applications. Unlike wood or composite, vinyl is color-

fast and non-porous, so dirt and stains don’t collect to compromise appearance. Vinyl decks retain their original fresh appearance for many decades. “Consumers are also choosing vinyl to save money. While vinyl has a higher up-front cost than wood, it lasts longer and delivers a total return on investment in just five to seven years versus wood, which delivers no payback due to its prohibitive maintenance costs,” said Deron Manwaring, national sales and marketing manager for Royal Outdoor Products. Not all vinyl deck systems are the same. Find a supplier with a complete vinyl package that includes not only basic deck materials, but compatible vinyl rails, posts and trim to create an integrated look that adds curb appeal to your home exterior. Whether you’re a homeowner or residential contractor, you want an experienced vinyl deck company that delivers custom, innovative solutions to suit specific needs and tastes. —ARA Content

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March 13, 2009 • Spring Home & Garden • Page 9


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MARCH 14-15-16

PHOTOS BY GEOFF GILLETTE

At its new facility in the Rose Garden, Navlet’s features a wide selection of plants as well as benches and other ornamental decorations.

NURSERIES

Continued from PAGE 5

your mulch at bulk prices, you can save a ton on that. That’s huge,” he said.

Sunset Color Nursery A Danville business since 1985, Sunset Color Nursery has actually been around for much longer. Established in Oakland in 1906, the business has had four locations, the most recent at 1435 San Ramon Valley Blvd. Owner Judy Sandkuhle is the third generation of her family to continue the family business, one that she feels she was born to do. “I realized that I had a gift for working with plants and I needed to work outside. I found I just loved the propagation of plants,” she explained. Sunset Color is a wholesale nursery open to the public, specifically in the area of perennials. Sandkuhle points to the rich color of the leaves as her reason for picking this niche for her business. “It complements the garden in that even when the flowers are gone, the leaves are still there to give you the color you need,” she stated. In their four greenhouses, Sandkuhle grows all her own plants and ships her product all over the Bay Area. One area of specialty for the store is geraniums. Sandkuhle said she has one of the largest collections of geraniums in the area. The nursery stays busy in the off-season, working in the greenhouses on the next season’s crop of perennials. They also hold a Christmas tree sale, in which Sandkuhle incorporates some of her late season plants as well as raising her own poinsettias. Even after the season, you could still find some of the colorful plants in one of the greenhouses. “We keep them around,” Sandkuhle said, “because they are so beautiful and they can last a long time.” In addition, she said she mixes her own potting soil on site. “I have a soil mixing machine and I put together my own. People come from all over the Bay for my potting soil,” she said.

Tassajara Nursery Driving down Camino Tassajara you may not see it immediately, but there is a wide open space filled with an abundance of greenery. Tassajara Nursery, located at 2550 Camino Tassajara, has been in business since 1979, occupying 5.5 acres of land chock full Page 10 • March 13, 2009 • Spring Home & Garden

Among the many perennials available at Sunset Color nursery are these Blue Chalk Fingers (foreground). A succulent, the Blue Chalk Fingers are hardy plants that are both heat and drought resistant.

of a wide assortment of lawn and garden necessities. Landscape designer Matt Akabane said they have worked hard over the past 30 years to amass a remarkable assortment of plants for use inside the home and out. “We’re one of the largest nurseries in the Bay Area, so we carry almost anything that will grow in the region,” he said. The store carries a variety of fruit trees, including several “4 in 1” fruit trees, which have been grafted from four different types so that they provide the different fruits on one tree. Akabane’s father, Kunitoshi, besides owning the business, is also a Bonsai master. “It’s kind of a specialty niche for us,” said Akabane. “We have some great quality plants. He goes out and gives classes on Bonsai, he’s actually the sensei of the Diablo Bonsai Club.” Dotted throughout the wide open area are patio furniture sets, fountains, statuary and other, more esoteric, pieces. “We have these unique iron pieces from Italy that are taken off of churches and buildings. We have a gentleman who goes to Italy and brings these back,” he explained. “We can incorporate these into people’s fences, or as wall art in the garden or in stucco walls, which is really neat.” ■


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Filling a basement, game room or family room with games and munchies will be the key to a teen’s heart.

Keep teens home by giving them a haven Most parents would agree that raising teenagers is never easy. But in a down economy, when many American families are trimming extras from their budgets, it can be even more difficult to keep teens happy, entertained and engaged in family life. With the prospect of unemployment and falling home values on many parents’ minds, sending teens on a ski trip with friends, or funding mall excursions and meals out are just not in the budget anymore. Parents may find it’s a better investment—both for their homes and for their teens’ development—to create a haven at home where teenagers can socialize for free. “We decided to turn our basement into a place where my son Ian and his friends could spend time together,� said Ann Mackinnon, a Minneapolis mother of a 15-year-old. “It’s cheaper then sending him out somewhere, plus it gives me the peace of mind of knowing where he is, what he’s doing and who he’s with.� Turning your basement, game room or family room into a teen haven doesn’t have to cost a bundle. Here are some helpful hints: Make it game time: Video games are a big part of social life for many teens, but don’t overlook the value of board games and table

games as well. Besides Wii and PlayStation, stock your teen haven with teen-friendly board games. Consider adding a table hockey or foosball game if space and budget allow. Master the munchies: Teen boys are notoriously big eaters, so be sure to have plenty of teen-friendly (and hopefully healthful) snacks on hand if you’re hosting your son’s friends. You could even add a small refrigerator in your teen haven to keep beverages and snacks cold and within easy reach for both genders. Set the mood: Atmosphere has a big impact on mood, especially if you’re an alreadymoody teenager. Be sure to provide plenty of comfortable seating where teens can lounge with their friends while they chat, watch TV or surf the Internet. Consider setting the mood for the room by adding punch with teen-friendly decor like a wallpaper mural of your child’s favorite sport. Make yourself scarce: Just because your teen is hanging around at home with his friends, don’t think it means you’re automatically invited. Teen havens only work if parents respect the child’s space and make their presences barely felt. —ARA Content

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Spring 2009 Home and Garden - Special Section