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June 18, 2010 > Garden: Sensory Delight

Garden: Sensory Delight

By Michele Matta
Photos By William Mancebo

Nestled in an elegant South Fremont court is the pride and joy of Robert Wasserman, Mayor of Fremont and his lovely wife, Linda. It's their garden, "but Linda gets all the credit," states his honor proudly.

Stepping out from the family room onto the Trex, an environmentally friendly, worry-free deck, one is immediately surrounded by a total sensory delight. Eyes can feast on a vibrant tapestry of flowers, plants, shrubs and trees of various shapes, colors and textures that Monet would have instantly been inspired to transfer to canvas. The sound of water trickling into the fish pond and birds humming and chirping create a symphony; and the sweet scent of nature in bloom is all around.

The central attraction and focus of this outdoor paradise is the reflecting fish pond. Its sole inhabitant is Golda, a Koi who seems to thrive and delight in her surroundings as much as Bob and Linda. "This fish pond was our 50th anniversary present to each other," says Linda, "Golda must be at home here because she's grown from 4 inches to 14 inches in just a couple of years!"

Near the fountain, on the deck, sits a charming wrought iron chair in the shape of a butterfly, which Linda purchased online and proceeded to assemble herself. Although Linda worked as an estimator for a local landscape designer, she has no formal background or training in landscape design. "No, I'm not a landscape architect, the yard and I sort of developed together over the years; we're sitting on an old hot tub right now!" The hot tub she is referring to is the covered deck to the left of the garden.

Behind the covered deck is a storage hut built by the Wasserman's son-in-law and a "Charlie chair" built by Linda's beloved deceased brother, Charlie - lots of sentiment, lots of love abound here. This deck is surrounded by colorful birch trees, rhododendron and podocarpus. But Linda's favorite plant is the flowery maple, transplanted from southern California where the Wassermans lived prior to moving to Fremont in 1976.

The deck has lots of special meaning to Bob and Linda, but most of all, "it's my Yosemite, my favorite vacation spot and we love the view of Mission Peak from here," says Linda.

Bob and Linda pooled many local resources to grow their drought-tolerant garden. The half dozen or so birch trees were purchased from a local nursery; some of the potted plants originated at the local Target store and the natural rock pyramid that rises behind the fish pond was purchased at the Fremont Art and Wine Festival (now called Fremont Festival of the Arts) several years ago.

Other visual delights include the pink and white bower vine flowers that adorn the covered deck, variegated purple sweet pea flowers surrounding the fish pond and a vibrant Tropicanas bird garden. The "canas" are a native New Zealand plant sporting beautifully striped leaves of orange and green, so named because they resemble a tropical sunset. Then there's a very exotic plant that stand tall and erect with a glowing red and yellow top, the "red hot poker," which Linda loves because "the hummingbirds and chickadees love it!" She also delights in the Star Pine, which rises majestically behind the fish pond and adds another touch of essential green to this already luscious environment.

Pointing to milkweed, Linda is quick to explain that it provides a resting place for Monarch butterflies to lay their eggs. The Monarch butterfly flies from southwestern Canada to the California coastline and the Bay Area is considered its native resting place. So, in addition to its beauty and serenity, The Wassermans' garden is an example of an urban backyard transformed into a wildlife-friendly habitat.

Bird watching can be soothing, fun and educational. When Linda was asked what she loves most about her garden, she replied, "The birds. I spend as much on bird food as I do on people food!" Indeed, birdhouses and birdfeeders of every size, shape and color adorn almost every tree in the yard and part of the covered deck is lined with a residential row of birdhouses. There is even a unique bird sanctuary constructed of wood and inlays of mosaic tile painted with flowers and fruit, lending its rich hues of green, white, orange and blue to an already exquisite quilt of many colors. What bird would not enjoy residing in the midst of such an eco-friendly environment?

The Wassermans have captured the essence of "Feng Shui," a popular Chinese art which defines a connection between people's feelings and their environment. They have succeeded in creating a private place of peace and comfort that blends with an environment of tranquility, a place where color, fragrance, texture, water and wildlife combine to provide a place for rest and relaxation; a garden to enjoy for years to come!

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