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CAMA Women’s Board Hosts Tours of ‘Hidden Gardens of Hope Ranch’

Annual fundraiser treats guests to the breathtaking views of three properties, followed by a wine reception at one of the featured homes

Some fabulous local gardens were featured in the Community Arts Music Association “Hidden Gardens of Hope Ranch” fundraiser, presented May 6 by the CAMA Women’s Board, as more than 200 people visited three locations and enjoyed a gathering with food and wine at the final stop.

The nonprofit organization, now in its 61st year as a support group to CAMA, hosted the annual event to benefit CAMA’s International Series and Masterseries concerts and Music Education programs that reach 1,500 elementary, junior and high school students in Santa Barbara County.

“This is our annual fundraiser, and we generally raise about $25,000 to give to CAMA,” said Patty Ottoboni, president of the CAMA Women’s Board. “This is only our second time hosting the Hidden Gardens tours in Hope Ranch. We usually have them in Montecito, but we decided to switch things up a bit.”

Scores of visitors took to their cars, slowly winding along two-lane roads through low rolling knolls covered with magnificent live oak trees along twists and turns within the 1,863 acres that make up the Hope Ranch community, nestled between the southeastern portion of Santa Barbara County and the Pacific Ocean.

The first garden of the day’s agenda was at the home of Fred and Jan Paulson, featuring an intimate courtyard bursting with spring flowers, sculptures and stained glass surprises sprinkled throughout the estate and including lush gardens bearing a resemblance to the majestic English countryside.

The Paulsons’ garden was designed with their grandchildren in mind, featuring a series of winding paths leading visitors to a sparkling swimming pool, tennis courts and a concealed shower.

Next, a steep driveway bound by native vegetation led to another unforgettable garden created by Karen Davidson and her late husband, David, both docents of Lotusland.

Visitors followed stone paths surrounded by a mélange of exotic succulents, bromeliads, epiphytes, cycads and palms, admiring breathtaking basalt columns reaching to the sky. Among the many hidden treasures found within this luxurious property was an environmentally conscious green garden, equipped with a rainwater recycling system.

The grand finale of the garden tour and site of the reception were the Asian-inspired gardens of homeowner Betty Stephens.

Guests trickling through latticed gates and along cobblestone pathways were directed by CAMA Women’s Board members to the “Blue Cat Grotto,” a former potting shed now transformed into a shade-dappled hideaway and sprinkled with patches of beautifully trimmed rose gardens.

Groups stopped to admire and take photos of the breathtaking setting filled with unique collections of sculptures and Asian artifacts beside a tranquil koi pond and a shimmering pool guarded by a jolly Buddha.

The mood was further set by musician Chris Fossek, whose soulful guitar strumming heightened the tranquil and joyous occasion.

Later, guests strolled along to the reception staging area held upon an expanse of lawn overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

“My gardens are very eclectic, but the last thing that you will find here is a very manicured garden with hedges and things like that,” Stephens said. “My gardens have evolved over the years and keep evolving. I’m not like most people. I like a lot of variations in my garden.”

Stephens told Noozhawk that she has admired ancient Asian artwork and sculptures since she was a child.

“My brothers were in World War II so they spent a lot of time in Japan and China, and they would send home these beautiful and exotic things to my mother and me and I fell in love with Asian culture,” she said. “This garden has a lot of different faces, and I don’t have a designer up here because I enjoy doing it myself.”

Guests enjoyed an array of appetizers courtesy of Michael’s Catering and surveyed a silent auction display that included an assemblage of custom hats created by various local hat artists, a week’s vacation in Carmel at the Highlands Inn, a custom pen and ink drawing of the winning bidder’s own home or garden, and a private wine tasting event at the Wine Cask.

CAMA volunteers also offered visitors the opportunity to participate in a fun-filled raffle drawing with a chance to win one of 20 items, ranging from lunch at the Stonehouse Restaurant to dinner at Olio e Limone Ristorante, or a Terra Sol Nursery gift card, and many more.

The CAMA International Series 2012-13 concert season will showcase an amazing lineup of recitals and world-class orchestra by some of the world’s finest classical musicians at concerts held at the Granada Theatre.

The Masterseries concerts, established in 1982, host classical recitals at the Lobero Theatre and feature an eclectic mix of instrumental soloists and outstanding chamber music performed by internationally acclaimed musicians.

CAMA’s extensive music educational programs, such as Music Matters, now in its 10th year, reach students in fourth through sixth grade from dozens of local elementary schools. The three-year, 24-unit curriculum program combines the study of folk and classical music tradition with performances by musicians demonstrating these traditions at school assemblies.

The flagship program, going seven years strong, was created by consultant musicologist Dr. David Malvinni and is also comprised of CAMA docents trained by Malvinni.

“I belong to CAMA and I admire what they do,” Stephens said. “They asked me if I would open my gardens for a tour and I said that I would love to because that is what I do. I give events here. This entire piece of property is solely for raising money for nonprofits and the arts throughout the year, and that’s what it’s for.”

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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