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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Today is the last day to see The Bulb Guy's private tulip garden in San Jose

This is just a peek at the backyard of The Bulb Guy, Rich Santoro.


I read about him on Friday in an article in the Mercury News online. Once a year he opens his private, backyard garden for one week and allows the public to come enjoy the thousands of bulbs he plants each year. I'm posting this now because today, Sunday April 7th, 2013 is the final day to view his flowers this year. Miss it and you'll have to wait until 2014.

Rich wearing his new official The Bulb Guy cape, a gift from a friend.

The Bulb Guy's Garden Tour
Through: April 7, noon-5 p.m.
Where: 850 Gateview Court
San Jose, CA
(McKee Road west exit from I-680)
Admission: Free


Arrive and you'll see a green sign on the garage pointing you to the side gate. There's a small registration table where you can sign up for future email updates and view several articles that have been written about Rich and his flowers in the past. My favorite title was the "Bullbapalooza" article.

If it's not too crowded Rich greets you and offers an informal tour sharing with you the history of the flowers and garden elements. If it's busy, he'll wander around the yard greeting and welcoming new comers ASAP and answers any questions people have. He's the perfect host and will charm you with the many stories he's willing to share about flowers in general and his in particular.


Why would you go? Well, if you love tulips that's a good reason.


Or if you've always wanted to visit Holland in the spring but haven't ever made it, and maybe never will, this may be the closest you'll ever get living in San Jose, CA.


Or if you just love flowers in general you should go because there are more than tulips at the Bulb Guy's floral wonderland. In fact, this year Rich planted 5,951 bulbs in his yard!


As you step into the backyard you'll immediately see there's a central lawn area surrounded by flowers.


Click Here or on the panorama above to enlarge it and see more details.


There are 13 raised beds surrounded by gravel paths as well as floral borders on all sides of the yard.


LOL. It's a "bulb" garden after all.

I overheard a cute conversation between a father and his two sons. The kids were impressed with the garden and their dad said to them he bet Rich doesn't spend any time sitting in the house playing video games. Which led the younger of the two boys to speculate he must work in the garden at night and do all of his normal stuff during the daytime.

It's easy to see he puts an extraordinary amount of time into the garden. I bet he inspires a lot of people to do more with their own yards.


The tulips are a combination of perennials that survived the previous season and new bulbs purchased from Costco.


Have I ever mentioned that my favorite flowers are tulips, wisteria, iris, poppies and ranunculus?


The frilly parrot tulips are my favorites. I planted them once but they didn't survive to the following season. I love everything about them, their festive color combinations, and the way they look on the inside too.


I felt like Georgia O'Keefe photographing the pistil and stamens with my macro lens. Looking at the intense colors and sculptural shapes made me want to paint pictures of them.


They were all so pretty! One thing I did notice was that some of the flowers had a few aphids on them. Here you can see a couple on the right side of the pistil. They're the bright green circles.


Here were a few sauntering along a dark purple petal.


I also noticed there were quite a few ladybugs nearby and surmised that The Bulb Guy must not use pesticides in his garden.


Before I had a chance to ask him I went to photograph the interior of a white tulip, which is when I noticed this little guy. A tiny garden snail tucked deep inside the cup of the flower, his antennae like eye stalks peering up at me. That made me happy because I love garden snails. Most people kill them but I figured with aphids, ladybugs and snails I must be in an eco-friendly yard. The next time Rich walked by I asked him and he confirmed there are no pesticides used to keep this amazing garden blooming.

It was really nice to see such a prolific garden living in harmony with an organic ecosystem.


These are special tulip plants that Rich grew from seeds. They're two years old and need five more before they'll be mature enough to bloom. Seven years! No wonder everyone buys bulbs.


Around the yard there are also memorials and tributes. A hand painted memorial sign dedicated to Holly Hayes, the late Mercury News Home and Garden Editor who came up with Rich's nickname "The Bulb Guy," graces a bed of flowers.

There's a photo and sign dedicated to a young boy named Connor who showed great integrity when he visited the garden in the past, so much so Rich re-named one of his yellow tulips after the young man. You can read about Connor in the Mercury News story.

And legendary national, international, and Olympic track and field coach Bert Bonanno is also honored with a display in his enamel baby bathtub from his childhood that he gave to The Bulb Guy, knowing full well it would become a planter in his garden.


Remember I mentioned I love poppies? Well, there were several that I found mesmerizing. This one, with bright pink, very slightly ruffled petals was so gorgeous I had to give it its own photo session.


Have you ever really looked at a poppy's pistil and stamens? The pincushion shaped pistil surrounded by the delicate pollen coated stamens. . . I could have photographed this one flower all day long.


Imagine if you were a bee. You'd look at all of this pollen and think YUM! Lunch!


And a red poppy. They were so pretty!


Similar but different, these are the pistil and stamen of anemone flowers.


And The Bulb Guy strategically plants a bed of daffodils late in the season just so that they'll be blooming in time for the week long open house. Or maybe I should say open yard.


And Rich's yard may be the best way for me to see poppies this season since our trips to the Antelope Valley (in Lancaster, CA) and Bear Valley Road (in Colusa, CA) were both busts.


There was a multitude of flowers throughout the yard. I have to say the bachelor buttons in the upper right corner tickled me the most. I used to pick them when I was a kid. I hadn't seen them in years. Now I want to plant some in my yard too.


As we left we received our invite to next year's garden tour! If you can make it today and catch it this year I can only say go. Rich absolutely loves what he does and wants as many people as possible to come visit his flowers.


The Bulb Guy's Garden Tour - website
Through: April 7, noon-5 p.m.
Where: 850 Gateview Court
San Jose, CA
(McKee Road west exit from I-680)
Admission: Free

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