From a garden, scholarships bloom

designed by Sara Bloomberg

By Michael Hall
The Guardsman

Vibrant colors and intoxicating aromas of herbs and fresh morning flowers filled the air on Sept. 29 when the Portola Garden Tour got underway for the fifth straight year.

The tour showcased beautiful gardens at more than 15 locations. The tour was originally started to raise money for the Portola Library, but this year the $25 admission fee instead went towards the Portola Garden District Scholarship at City College. This year’s tour was very successful, raising nearly $5,000 from well over 200 attendees.

The tour’s six sponsors included Sterling Bank, Zephyr Real Estate and the San Francisco Department of Public Works who all contributed to the event and its advertising. A raffle offered prizes such as plants and decorations.

Tour host Sheryll Olinder displayed a beautiful garden of her own that exhibited a unique combination of plants bursting with a variety of color. Some of her flowers included Orange Clock Vines and combinations of purple and pink flowers.

“Ten years ago when we bought it, it was all dirt,” Olinder said. “We use two 300-gallon tanks and solar-powered irrigation. There are over 20 different flowers, and I’m constantly adding to it.”

People in the neighborhood are proud to show their dedication to gardening. Some of the participating residents gained the gardens when purchasing their homes, such as three-year homeowner Ada Buratinsky.

“This garden is ten years old, and I’ve just maintained it for three and a half years,” Buratinsky said. “I have 25 different plants, but I only like low-maintenance things.”

Buratinsky’s European-style garden was also among the largest in size, stretching up three levels of stairs with different plants on each side.

This year’s tour had traditional and artistic gardeners like co-owners Tony Roderick and Mitsu Kimura, who attracted many spectators with their amazing color scheme.

“This piece of the garden is all dahlia plants. It went from 12 to 50 plants in three years,” Roderick said, referring to a section of his garden. “Our flowers have a great color variety because some get more sunlight than others, and it makes a beautiful combination.”

Not every garden received recognition for its flowers as some were cultivated, instead, with herbal and fragrant plants.

Bob and Mindy Henderson displayed a garden which had edible plants they sampled to the public.

“People have really liked our edible garden with great tasting plants, like our oregano and lemon thyme,” Bob Henderson said.

The couple is also fortunate to have breathtaking views from their garden.

“We have a swing bench with a clear view of the Bay Bridge and Oakland,” Bob Henderson said.

The local Portola Garden Tour was a hit and exemplified what passionate gardening is all about. Gardeners are already getting ready to steal the show in 2013.

For more information, visit the tour’s website at www.portolagardentour.com.

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