Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

September 19, 2006 > Beautiful Fremont gardens

Beautiful Fremont gardens

by Arnie Becker

Are you aware that some of your friends and neighbors might be moonlighting as almost professional gardeners? Well, they might be and they probably would like more company when they go out, get on their hands and knees, and spend a morning weeding, planting in one of the most picturesque parks in Fremont. The Friends of Heirloom Flowers, a chapter of the California Garden Clubs, Inc. has workshops, speakers, gardening work parties along with field trips to interesting and beautiful sites throughout the Bay Area and beyond. They are also affiliated with the National Garden Clubs, Inc., Bay Bridges Chapter.

One of the most accessible, historically significant, and beautiful parks is Shinn Park located at 1251 Peralta Blvd. at Mowry in Fremont. The other property that the Friends of Heirloom Flowers maintains is the Niles Rose Garden, across from the Mission Adobe Nursery at 36501 Niles Blvd.

Shinn Park is located between Paseo Padre Parkway and Mission Boulevard on Peralta Boulevard. Unless you knew that Shinn Park was there you could drive right on by and never know what you have just missed. Part of the beauty and historical significance of the park is Shinn House, a two-story, wonderfully restored house dating back to 1876. The original owners, James and Lucy Shinn, were at the forefront of Alameda County's early settlement after California gained its statehood.  In 1890, the youngest son, Joseph Clark Shinn, returned to the Shinn Ranch to manage the pear orchards and gravel pits. The nursery, having sold its stock in 1888 after almost two decades of supplying local orchards, has left a legacy evident in the exotic arboretum planted around the 1876  "Big House" or Shinn House as it is known today.

In 1962, Florence Mayhew Shinn donated the Shinn family home, gardens and farm buildings, with the surrounding four and a half acres of land, to the city of Fremont for a historical park. Shinn House opened in 1976. 

After their founding in 1994, the Friends of Heirloom Flowers took over the maintenance, landscape planning and beautification of the grounds surrounding the Shim House and Sim Cottage. With almost 60 members, they spend many hours on a weekly basis making sure that the grounds are as welcoming and beautiful as a new bride and groom would want them to be. (These grounds are available for rent by the city of Fremont to couples who want an outdoor garden wedding.)

The Friends of Heirloom Flowers have several events planned in the near future. Their monthly general meeting is held on the third Wednesday of the month at 10:00 a.m. in Sim Cottage on the Shinn Park property.  People interested in exploring membership are always welcome to attend the meetings.

"Make A Difference Day" on Saturday, Oct. 28 launches the club's annual civic beautification project. This year's project is the renovation of the perennial portion of the Niles Garden, inside Mission Adobe Nursery. As with all projects of the club, volunteers are welcome to join in and help. Come dressed for garden work and plan on getting your hands dirty.

Other current and ongoing projects include installing bender board barriers around the perimeter of the rose beds at Shinn Park, replacing and rearranging the rose bushes in the Niles Rose Garden and completing the "Provence-style" lavender garden at Shinn House.
The next general meeting of the Friends of Heirloom Flowers will be Wednesday, Sept. 20 at 10:00 a.m. in the Sim Cottage. This is located on the left side of the parking lot as you drive into the park.

The Friends of Heirloom Flowers have issued a special invitation to anyone interested in learning more about gardening, landscaping, and plants in general to join them for this meeting. The special speaker for this program is Phil Gordon who will talk about butterfly gardening.  This will be followed by a buffet luncheon. Please call Karen McCready at (510) 794-6844 to let the club know that you will be attending this meeting.  You are also welcome to join the members for field trips and for guest programs on a variety of gardening topics.

For more information on membership and activities of the Friends of Heirloom Flowers write to Friends of Heirloom Flowers, 4271 Bidwell Drive, Fremont, CA 94538 or call Eva at (510) 656-7702 or Vicki at (510) 795-1973. Karen can also be reached at

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