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A Not-So-Secret Garden On Alhambra Avenue

Sabine Pitts' home is one of the stops on this year's Martinez Home Tour.

For anyone who has driven down Alhambra Avenue and passed a house where Sunflowers wave to you, you are familiar with this garden.

Encompassed in a white picket fence, Mother Nature is doing some of her best work along with her friend, Sabine Pitts.

When she purchased the home in 1987, Sabine said the yard was professionally landscaped.  The lawn was well manicured and there were only a few bushes – no flowers.

She brought over a 30 year old Rubber Plant and a few Petunias to begin the transformation that has become one of the more infamous gardens in Martinez.

The rest of the flowers came from seeds.  Two of her Sunflowers are grown from seeds a friend brought to her from France.  From that initial planting, the Sunflowers reseed themselves as do her Zinnias, Cosmos and Marigolds.

While some of the flowers, especially the Sunflowers, Geraniums and Hydrangeas grow in the ground surrounding the house, there are numerous terra cotta and ceramic pots with Pansies and golden Calendulas that punctuate the garden.  And through good old fashion pollination from her neighbor’s garden, Morning Glories add the finishing touch to the porch garden.

One of the more interesting flowers that climb a wall in her private patio are small Lily like flowers in red, gold and white that open to the sun in the morning and close around 10 am.

So, what else helps Sabine’s garden grow?  She gives her Rubber Plant potato skins and banana peels.  And for the rest of the plants…well…Sabine is a horse woman – need we say more?

If you want to see this garden up close, join the Martinez Historical Society’s Home Tour on Saturday, October 13th, and enjoy a tour of six (6) other private homes representing the architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in historical Martinez.

The tour begins at the Shell Club House with its intact Arts & Craft interior and the adjacent Shell Oil Museum – both located at 1635 Pacheco Drive.  The tour includes the 1890 Borland House (home of the Martinez Museum), John Muir’s 1882 Italianate Victorian Home and the 1849 Martinez Adobe.  A point of interest on the Tour is the monument where that most iconic of American cocktails was invented in 1874:  the Martini. 

This year’s tour includes an exhibit of historical photographs and vintage camera equipment, live musicians at several locations, craft demonstrations, displays of art, and refreshments.  Also included is a side tour of the Nature’s Way Doll Centre with its collection of historical Dolls. 

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased, with cash or check, from Char’s Flowers (516 Main Street ), Rumain’s Jewelry (510 Center Avenue ), Bagel Street Café (580 Center Avenue ), The UPS Store (the Lucky Shopping Center ) and I’ve Been Framed

(411 Ferry Street ).  For more information about the tour and online purchase of tickets using a credit card, please go to the Tour website:  www.MartinezHomeTour.com.

Proceeds from the Tour will benefit the Historical Society’s effort to restore and reopen the Old Train Depot in downtown Martinez portions of which date back to 1877.

You can drive the Tour route, or utilize the free shuttle service that will be provided, with bus departures approximately every 10 minutes.  Tour guides on the bus will entertain you with stories of historical Martinez.  Wear comfortable shoes; once you reach Martinez City Hall, located in the district where the homes are located, you may wish to walk the Tour.  The tour is self-paced.  The Tour will take place rain or shine.  Tour hours are from 10 am to 4 pm.  Plan on about two (2) hours to completely enjoy the event. 

No children under 10 years of age (infants may be carried in arms or belly carrier).  Due to the period of the homes, they are not wheelchair accessible.  We regret that taking pictures is not allowed inside the homes.

A special thanks to the Tour’s gold sponsors:  Shell Martinez Refinery, S and S Supplies & Solutions, and Cole Real Estate.  Also many thanks to the tour’s bronze sponsors:   Shell Chemical, Allied Waste, Hagin’s Automotive, Shell Western States Federal Credit Union, and Kinder’s.

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