Back Better Than Ever: 34th Annual AAUW Garden Tour April 24

Written by Judy Salamacha

April 7, 2022

Estero Bay gardens are blooming with colorful blossoms. Citrus and stone fruit are ripening. Passion fruit is falling off the vine. And Monarch butterflies have come back to flirt with hummingbirds seeking sips of sweet nectar. I can almost hear the birds chirp, “It’s time to get outside and smell the roses.”

The members of American Association of University Women (AAUW), Morro Bay Chapter are excited to be back in living color again supporting scholarships for Estero Bay’s young women. On April 24th from noon to 5 p.m., you can help them send several 7th grade girls to a 2022 summer science camp in Santa Barbara with your generous donation of $15 to attend AAUW’s 34th Garden Tour.

View four uniquely designed gardens representative of the personalities and lifestyle of the homeowners who have created them. Stroll through each garden at your own pace — two in Morro Bay and two across the street from each other in Los Osos. Where else, would the AAUW committee find the Los Osos homes to tour, but adjacent to Sweet Springs during our 2022 Estero Bay Springtime.

I was able to tour one of the gardens this week in between our welcomed rainstorms. Readers: Surprise! Surprise! One of the gardens you will tour belongs to Kiki Kornreich. Indeed, once every other month you’ve read Kiki’s musings in Estero Bay News under the banner “Out & About with Bookshelf Writers.” Now you can get to know her a little bit better by touring her home garden.

Kiki moved from Cayucos to her North Morro Bay home eight years ago. She was attracted by the home’s bountiful garden and the amazing view off her back deck of the lush green hillsides of Morro Valley. She agreed to host the AAUW Garden Tour before the pandemic shuttered our daily happenings. One might say Kiki was given two more years to imagine, then create garden spaces she would enjoy sharing with friends and neighbors, and supporters of AAUW’s Garden Tour.

For the first time in months our Bookshelf Writers’ group, Debbie Black, Susan Vasquez and I, were able to meet at Kiki’s home — all together. It had been a surprise to us why she was spending so much time in her garden instead of writing! Well, we learned why as she walked us through her transformed garden spaces all blooming with not only what we’d seen before but new or repositioned whimsical “yard art” and bird feeders. I felt I was walking through the many moods of my friend, Kiki.

Each nook has its own theme. Naturally her Ponderosa home had to have a “wild western” garden, but Kiki’s style balances historical with a Zen mood. Morro Bay is a neighborly community. Reflecting that mood, her front porch area has space to sit, wave to her neighbors or shelter within a patio-like area bordered by a variety of roses, a magnificent Meyer lemon, and lush greenery. Stroll around to the back yard and see her puppy Pearl’s special garden space. There’s a Kiki-vacation memory display with colorful anchor-weight souvenirs from Newport, OR, and a tribute wall to the former owner thanking her for planting a strong foundation for Kiki to expand the many more garden spaces surrounding her home.  

From her expansive deck, Kiki can watch numerous bird species flock to several fun-feeders she keeps well supplied. She said the doves would intimidate the finches at first, until they realized they had no reason to horde. There was plenty for all to get their fill. Now, they share side-by-side and sing their songs to Kiki’s delight and peace of mind. It gave me hope that maybe humans might someday realize our abundance and learn to live and share the resources we have, especially here in our Central Coast paradise.  

I also had a chance to talk to former Morro Bay City Councilwoman Nancy Johnson, who is publicity chair for the event. She credited Kathleen Lenski for her leadership of the committee, Janelle Richardson for her social media expertise and her fellow members for working together to find the homes and organize the 2022 tour. Just last month President Jan Dean called the entire membership together.  Visitors interested in possible membership are welcome to attend their regular meetings at St. Peter’s Episcopal in Morro Bay second Saturdays between September and May from 10-Noon. Check out their AAUW Morro Bay Facebook page. 

Nancy continued to describe the other gardens on the tour. Gabriel Frank, owner of Gabriel’s Gardens, is opening one of his home gardens for the benefit of AAUW’s scholarships and science camperships. Committee members discovered Gabriel had combined his horticulture education with his skills as an artist, welder, and craftsman to create an interesting landscape with drought tolerant plants.

In Los Osos, John Dilworth and Carole Maurer’s beautifully landscaped garden was designed by Lisa Denker of Los Osos. In the front yard are tiered rock-faced beds with yellow Phlomis rusellias, agaves, red yarrow, kangaroo paws, grevillea, purple and hummingbird sages, birch trees, and an olive tree. The committee was told it took three years to build the beautiful front yard deck. Nancy was awed by their patio’s uniquely designed barbecue. She also hopes the aloe blooms will still be as vivid April 24.

Walk across the street and view the home garden of Margarete Schmidt and Mike Lozito. Their landscape design intends to match the open space feel of Sweet Springs adjacent to their property. Are you familiar with Estero Bay native plant life? Their garden demonstrates how to gently blend drought tolerant cultivars and native plants with the natural habitat. Once you’ve viewed their garden, take the time and short walk on the Sweet Springs path to the bay and study local birds in full view – and yet sheltered behind a blind.

Be sure to thank the Cal Poly student hostesses for taking time to help at the event and take note of the gifted floral arrangements crafted for the homeowners by students studying floral design careers.  

Tickets for the tour are easily available online at My 805 Tix, or at Morro Bay’s Coalesce Book Store, Los Osos’ Volumes of Pleasure Book Shoppe and Farm Supply in SLO. 

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