Dennis & Olga's Garden
PERCHED HIGH IN THE FOOTHILLS OF the Sonoma Mountains sits the home and garden of Master Gardener Dennis Przybycien and his wife Olga. When they first saw the
property in 2001 they were so appalled by the blue, 1964 vintage ranch-style house and the seven foot tall grass and weeds in the pasture which ran alongside, that they didn’t even take note of the spectacular view of Sonoma Valley below.
The plantings on the one-and-one-half acre property consisted of native knobcone pine, a small stand of redwoods and a short allée of pollarded fruitless mulberry trees that had been planted at the time the house was built. Despite first impressions, they bought the property, gave it a name—Tall Grass Ranch—and began the work of renovation and restoration.
A quarter-acre of the pasture became a small vineyard featuring pinot, zinfandel and syrah varieties. A small orchard of a variety of pears and apples shares the space. The other half is home to three English Baby Doll sheep. The house and its surrounding garden complement each other seamlessly and the garden is full of hidden surprises. Entering the garden, the visitor is greeted by a rustic patio, Barbie, potted plants and a shade garden made possible by the rehabilitated Mulberries.
Paths meander past a grassy area for badminton, a secluded alcove with seating, and various water features, and ultimately reach a rustic cottage, which serves as a potting shed and greenhouse. Informal beds of seasonal flowers punctuated by roses spread alongside the house. Open spaces with tables and comfortable seating appear in areas to take in the view and facilitate entertaining.
In one area Dennis has created a small winery for his grape harvest. Chickens and rabbits contribute importantly to the health of the garden. A kitchen garden of seasonal herbs and vegetables in raised beds occupies the sunny eastern side of the house. A recent introduction of several olive trees anticipate the production of oil. The garden is filled with object d’art, found and otherwise, which harmonize with the palette of plants and surprise and delight the views.
Central themes of this garden include sustainability, water conservation and appropriate plants, but by far its most outstanding characteristic is the expression of the creativity and whimsey of its owners. To their beautiful garden, Dennis and Olga have added one more component: fun.