This is a special offer for couples who plan to have their wedding at the High Sierra Iris & Wedding Gardens in Camino, California in 2015. If you contract with Jason DeBord Photography for your wedding at High Sierra Gardens in 2015, I will provide a free two hour portrait session (engagement, family, any outdoor-style photography of your choice) for free across the street at my parent’s gardens in Southfork on a date to be arranged following the wedding.
My parents, Kathie and Mike DeBord, live on 5 acres and half of it is fully landscaped with gardens and more – a perfect setting for photography!
Below are some of the photos I’ve taken of their property:
Below is the cover feature in the Sacramento Bee’s “Home and Garden” section on June 23, 2007:
Paradise by any name
Mike and Kathie DeBord’s stunning garden combines the wild and the manicured
By Pat Rubin – Bee Home & Garden Writer
Published 12:00 am PDT Saturday, June 23, 2007
High above the south fork of the American River on a sunny hillside studded with pine, cedar, madrone, manzanita and black oak, Mike and Kathie DeBord have created a bit of gardening paradise.
Nestled deep inside Apple Hill near Camino, down narrow, curving ribbons of road that pass orchards, vineyards, barns and horses, their garden covers much of their 5 acres. It’s affectionately called “The Park” by neighbors, “Grandpa’s Garden” by grandchildren Amanda, James and Michael, and simply “Mike’s Garden” by his wife. The garden effortlessly and beautifully combines two worlds: the wild side of nature with the manicured, orderly hand of design.
A garden of many rooms and moods, it invites visitors to relax, to sit on the front porch sipping tea or a glass of wine, admiring the shady lawn, the redwoods, the black oaks and the scarlet maples. It’s also a garden for strolling along the decomposed granite paths that lure visitors through a wildly exuberant perennial garden full of summer color before turning and spilling down into a shady retreat slipped inside an old manzanita. It’s a garden for adventure.
At the same time, it’s a garden for sitting by the pool admiring the deep-purple delphiniums standing tall against the blue sky. It’s a garden for watching the finches clinging to feeders hungrily gobbling thistle seed, or hummingbirds darting in and out for a drink of nectar while scolding other birds. It’s a garden for watching the deer stroll across the lawn.
It’s also a lot of work.
Mike DeBord recently hauled, wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow load, 40 cubic yards of bark to mulch the front flower beds. But it’s a labor of love, and he can’t imagine living anywhere else.
“This is our 20th house, and the first time I’ve really had room to expand. It’d be hard to go back to a regular lot right now. Five acres gives you some wooded, natural areas as well as opportunity for more formal gardens. There’s nothing more a gardener could ask for in life.”
The recently remodeled home sits in the middle of the formal garden, and just off to the side from the perennial garden. All windows look out to the garden, and many also have views of the mountains in the distance. Alex Miller, previously a landscape designer for Capital Nursery and now owner of Alex Miller Design, designed the formal part of the garden 12 years ago. The DeBords bought the home 2 1/2 years ago, and Mike DeBord has worked to restore the garden as well as expand it. He spends hours each week deadheading, pruning and planting. He checks the garden every morning to see what’s blooming. And most evenings he and Kathie sit on the front porch to relax and reflect upon the day.
A longtime gardener, DeBord said he finds much of his inspiration looking at other gardens, particularly Butchart Gardens, a 130-acre garden in Victoria on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.
“I’ve spent days there studying and observing. What I noticed most is that people love to look at all the brilliant flowers, then they mosey over to the Japanese garden with the benches and tranquil lawns to relax. It’s a soothing change from the color intensity of the flower beds. I think that’s what our front porch does, and that’s why Kathie and I spend more time there than any part of the garden. When she’s exhausted we try to spend an hour or so sitting on the porch. Just like in the old days, a front porch has a lot of appeal.”
Visitors see a soothing, parklike expanse of lawn, mature shade trees and shrubs as they pull into the driveway. It’s mainly a foliage garden in shades of green: light-green dogwood leaves, dark and leathery rhododendrons, shiny pittosporum, glossy mahonia. The mood is serene, cool and relaxed. Sunlight filters through the trees in slim rays before hitting the ground. The sweet scent of star jasmine hangs in the air. A family of deer often naps on the lawn.
Keep driving, and pull into the parking area a bit farther down the drive where the mood changes. Suddenly, a sea of sunny-yellow hypericum flowers surrounds you. The low hypericum plants wrap around flower beds like a skirt, every summer transforming the borders from cool green to hot yellow. A path off the side begs you to come see the perennial garden, which is alive with the colors of summer: purple, pink, yellow, white. Mounds of lavender mix with swards of pink Mexican evening primrose and tall stems of bright yellow yarrow. Purple and yellow are repeated throughout the garden: lavender and yarrow, butterfly bush and hypericum. It’s an electric combination.
Tall matilija poppies, their flowers resembling giant fried eggs, tower above the plants below them. Gray santolina grows tightly against succulents and spreads its nubby stems across green pools of miniature vinca. Shasta daisies vie for space with coreopsis, and ornamental grasses like eulalia grass (Miscanthus sinensis), feather reed grass (Calamagrostis acutiflora) and Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica) add a spiky, strappy look among the leafy perennials.
Continue down the path past a row of newly planted peonies. The crunchy decomposed granite path turns downward into a shady retreat cut among the trunk of a gnarled, twisted manzanita. Its dusky, purple limbs are hung with misters and baskets of fuchsias, under planted with impatiens and ferns.
The paths curve and snake along, not revealing too much of the garden at once, showing just enough to lure you onward but making sure you notice the plants beside you. They’re wide enough for a single person, and flanked by — be careful — poison oak. They curve and disappear into the woods before crossing the hand-made bridge and heading back up to the formal lawn and shrub borders below the house. Dense plantings of cedar, crape myrtle, rhododendrons and Japanese maples frame a long expanse of soft, squishy lawn that ends at the pool. A bed of roses, hardy geraniums and wallflowers punctuate the lawn with a splash of color.
At the end of the tour, DeBord offers visitors a bottle of water, a glass of iced tea, perhaps a glass of wine, and everyone heads around to the front porch. The soft cushions on the wicker chairs look inviting. It’s time to sit, relax, talk about the garden, or simply watch the day go by.
Mike DeBord offers these gardening tips
I noticed the gardeners at Butchart Gardens prune flowers just a slight bit past their peak. They don’t wait. It’s hard to do because things might still look really great, but they prune things quickly and tend to get a better second bloom from plants. It’s better to have a few gorgeous flowers than masses of ones where some are good and others should be clipped off.
On year-round color:
I visit the nursery every month to see what’s blooming. Have things that keep cycling, like a fireworks show. You’ll have bursts of color, but you don’t see it all at once, and as one starts to trail off, another takes its place. Plant things at different levels so when one is fading, another comes up to take its place.
On planting for fall:
Ornamental grasses really come into their own in the fall. Other plants are going dormant and have to be cut back, but grasses are glorious when they start to go dormant in the fall. I have them mixed in with the perennials, lots of Stipa tenuissima, Japanese blood grass.
On design and creating paths:
If you see something you like in the landscape, some natural feature that’s interesting that you can tap into, then that’s where the pathway should go. Make them curved just enough not to reveal too much of the garden ahead, but enough to entice you to see what’s ahead. At the same time, you want people to notice what’s beneath their feet.