Spring Tour 2019 Sneak Peek: East Meets West

Gamble Garden Spring Tour 2019, photo by Nadine Priestly

Gamble Garden’s Spring Tour will be held on April 26 & 27, 2019. Purchase tour tickets to visit this garden and four others: A Feast for the Senses, Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication, A Sheep in Palo Alto, Paradise in a Meadow

Homeowner / garden designer Dean Bui wanted to wanted to create a garden like his father’s in Vietnam. He also strove to honor the style and feeling of the gardens and architecture of his Professorville neighborhood and his historic home. The result is an artful blending of the tropical and the formal that also displays Bui’s creative talents and an enviable green thumb.

The climbing figs that grow on the pierced red brick fence at the garden entry echo the boxwood hedges of his adjacent neighbors. The driftwood front gate strikes an altogether different note. With the help of an artist/handyman from Santa Cruz, Bui collected driftwood at unfrequented, local lakes and beaches, then designed, built and installed the gate by himself. A simple sculptural piece from his driftwood collection is artfully mounted on a floor of antique salvaged bricks that meanders under the mature oak tree that towers over the front yard. This sculpture also serves as a support for a beautifully crafted wooden bird house. The feeling is Zen, echoed by the cut leaf maple nearby that Bui prunes to perfection.

A canopy of mature oaks enclosing the entire property is pruned annually to let in sun for the fruit trees and flowers the family loves to grow. Tree roses in hot shades of pink adorn the front yard, along with an Oro Blanco grapefruit tree and fragrant gardenias. For their dining room, Bui and his wife commissioned a stained glass window that depicts the graceful limbs of Vietnamese fruit trees. They planted a dogwood outside the window that echoes this elegant fluidity .

Through another driftwood gate you enter a paradise paved in brick. A rustic gazebo is surrounded by a lush garden with a tropical feel, composed of plants that can survive our winters. Bui’s favorite flowering tree from home did not survive the cold, but the leaf cover provided by the towering oaks creates a shelter belt in which the family can grow exotic orchids and tender ferns alongside the palms, Cannas, bamboo, and Philodendron that provide a lush green tapestry. On a visit to the garden last fall I admired the rich, shiny foliage of the prolific Dendrobium orchids arrayed in pots around the garden. Before I left Bui potted up a piece of one, along with some Thai basil I had sampled.

Bui built the rock waterfall that once fed a koi pond whose fish sheltered under the raised platform of the gazebo. Rest a moment on the gazebo’s comfortable couch, a perfect viewing platform to enjoy the many delights of the garden through the fringe of dried leaves framing the roof. Neatly stacked driftwood rests against a charming wooden shed and the back fence lets in light through a framed window. Boxwood in pots sound a formal note, and a row of citrus along the back of the house absorb enough reflected heat to provide large harvests of fruit despite the dappled shade. An engineer by day, Bui built a raised planter on wheels so he can move the planter to follow the sun needed by his wife’s favorite culinary herbs. She chooses the annual flowers, mostly New Guinea impatiens in shades of pink. Vibrant and peaceful at the same time, the garden feels miles away from the city that surrounds it.