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Vibrant gardens, crystal pools, unique wine cave in Country Garden Tour


Last updated 5/1/2008 at Noon

a wooden archway marks the entrance to the conifer garden at the home of Gary Vincent and Wanda Mallen.

On Saturday, May 10, the public will have access to some of the most beautiful and unique gardens in Fallbrook as the Fallbrook Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) hosts its 13th Country Garden Tour of Fallbrook: “Pools, Patios and More.” The gardens will be available for viewing from noon to 4 p.m.

The starting point will be the Palomares House at 1815 South Stage Coach Lane, where tickets may be purchased. Event chairpersons Jeff and Susan Nelson have selected seven outstanding gardens to be included on the tour.

The AAUW group has more than one goal in mine for the tour – mainly the funding of local scholarships but also of importance is the inspiration that will spring from viewing the outstanding gardens.

The tour of Bill and Colleen Jackson’s property will focus on their unique wine cave built around an intricately carved blue-hued antique door. The cave exterior was built in a Spanish style and the interior is a mingling of Spanish and Italian. The interior glows with subtle track lighting illuminating an extensive collection of wine.

At first glance, the ceiling with its faux knotholes looks like wood, but at closer inspection one can tell that it is an artfully painted slab of concrete. After the cave was built, painters were brought in to give the concrete a dose of character. The painters were adept at faux painting techniques that took six days to complete. The end result is a masterpiece that will transport you on a mind journey to Tuscany.

Also of interest at the Jackson home are a koi pond, a lovely patio and an amazing view.

Wanda Mallen and Gary Vincent maintain an extensive garden which encompasses two acres. This botanical masterpiece is divided into categories according to plant groups. Areas include cactus and succulents, tropical, palms, conifers, Australian plants and woodland plants.

The couple purchased their new home nine years ago and built the garden from the dirt up. “It is an ongoing thing,” said Wanda. “It has just evolved.”

Wanda loves her entire garden, but if she had to pick a favorite category she would choose the tropicals. In this area she and Gary have constructed a greenhouse with a bench where the couple can sit and enjoy the philodendron, staghorn ferns, ficus, bromeliads and other tropical plants. She uses the greenhouse as a sanctuary for her “tender” greenery. By tender she means that the plants need to be sheltered in the greenhouse during the winter or they would not survive.

She has succeeded in growing trees, such as coast redwoods and Monterey pines, that don’t normally thrive in our climate. Wanda’s passion for gardening is evident as she commented, “I have to do this. It is part of me – it’s my passion.”

Orchids are Carol Randall’s favorite flower in the approximately one-acre garden that she and husband Jim have developed from a dirt lot. She grows orchids of many colors, including purple, yellow, green and even red.

Since orchids are delicate, they must grow in a greenhouse to flourish and even survive. Carol learned a hard lesson regarding the survival of orchids when she moved to our area from a more temperate climate. Two hundred of her orchid plants were lost in the first freeze.

Carol and Jim have developed a terraced area with a variety of flowers. Pathways wind through a colorful and fragrant rose garden. Also on the tour will be irises and four Purple Robe Trees. Since Carol has placed feeders in her garden guests may be able to catch a glimpse of hummingbirds.

Two acres of approximately 300 palm trees is what palm enthusiast Dr. Richard Mohr will showcase. A Canary Island date palm 20 feet in diameter is just one of the fascinating trees visitors will be able to view at this unique site.

Dr. Mohr, a local orthodontist, sometimes acquires his trees in unorthodox manners. He has rescued several trees doomed for destruction, including one that was situated under some power lines and scheduled for removal.

This tree-rescuer grows a variety which includes the king palm, fish-tale palm and fox-tail palm, among others. He enjoys his palm gardening efforts and is especially pleased when he finds a hybrid tree.

Lavender and other plants grow above the wine cave at Bill and Colleen Jackson

Diane Vivanco and her husband Ed are showcasing their unique Santa Fe-style garden and home exterior. A swimming pool, deck and pool house are also designed with Santa Fe flair. The Vivancos have lived in their home for three years and bought it because they liked the unique styling. “It intrigued us because it was different,” said Ed.

Their drought-tolerant garden also reflects the New Mexico inspiration with cacti, bougainvillea and other plants that prosper in drier areas. Be sure to look for fountains and the spectacular view. Oh, and a colorful life-sized statue is “playing” an instrument on the patio. Maybe if you get close enough to this musical mannequin you might be able to hear him!

For further information on the AAUW Country Garden Tour, call Susan Nelson at (760) 451-9532.

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