Saturday, March 01, 2008
Inside Pomona's Secret Garden
For the past week, I have done my best to keep a secret. Yesterday morning between 10 o'clock and noon, Pomona's secret garden was open to the public. I didn't post about it on the blog, as it was unclear to me if it was my place to do so. For the same reason, I removed address information from my initial post about the garden.
Yesterday morning's misty weather was especially well-suited for a trip inside a secret garden. As I walked along the meandering paths, I saw some familiar Pomona faces. David Allen of the Daily Bulletin was there with reporter's notebook in hand. Mickey Gallivan, the force that is the Historical Society of the Pomona Valley, was there to check it out and put it on her list of places worth saving should someone ever try to bulldoze it. There was even a spotting of Pomona's most famous regen Josh Connole, but maybe it was the wrong guy. Richard E. Nunez made it inside, and took today's photographs to prove it. Also present was a woman in a nursing smock and purple crocs who had driven all the way from Santa Monica just to get a peek. Another man taking photographs described himself as a "historian working for myself." That was a little ominous. And then there was me, a mere goddess of Pomona.
Absent physically from the secret garden was the Grass Guru himself, John Greenlee. His friend Simple? Also a no show. Well okay, so according to Greenlee's able assistant Carlos they never planned to be there in the first place. But I still got the feeling John was watching from nearby. John and Simple's presence was felt throughout the garden -- from painted mermaids on a naked house, to a book made out of stone, to a dead tree "reused" as a vine holder. Live trees double dutied as hanging plant holders.
Visitors could peak in the empty but woodsy bungalow. More than one person could be heard quietly telling another person to make sure they saw a room at the back of the house where all the walls were collaged with ecologicallly-minded magazine and newspaper clippings. One of the items in the collage was a Daily Bulletin headline that read, "California drought officially over." Evidence of another time.
I can not describe all I experienced as I walked through the secret garden, only that it did feel like a Pomona secret partially revealing itself. Partially. At one point, I was tempted to pick a small orange from one of the trees, but the fruit seemed strangely forbidden.
Near the end of my time there, a man wearing a newspaper boy's cap walked in and could be seen taking it all in. The man had a positive vibe to him, and I was not suprised to learn that he and his girlfriend will be the new tenants there. Andrew is in Cal Poly's landscape architecture department. He looked appropriately smitten with his new digs. So for now, with the exception of some plants that will be moved to another Pomona garden-in-the-making, and lots of sculptures which have already been moved there, John and Simple's secret seems quite safe with Andrew.
For those who didn't get in yesterday, Andrew loves the idea of opening up the garden to the public once a month. And he's down with the community gardening in Pomona as well. So the garden is a secret that will continue to be shared among friends.
Enjoy the photos. Other than the photo of Andrew, the stone book, shots of the interior of the bungalow and the locked gate, the other photographs were taken by Richard.