The Aesthetic Pruners Association Presents

The Art of Pruning Garden Tour

October 22, 2017

East Bay Gardens

This is the third annual APA garden tour! We are proud to feature gardens of the East Bay which are beautifully and expertly pruned by APA certified aesthetic pruners Leslie Buck, Yuki Nara, and Dan Villaume. Each of the four gardens makes unique use of its natural setting in the East Bay hills.  Enjoy yourselves. And take advantage of this unique opportunity to ask certified aesthetic pruners about their technique and process.

There will be book signings throughout the day by Leslie Buck, author of NYTimes reviewed memoir ‘Cutting Back’, in the Mitchell garden and pruning demos by Randall Lee, APA President, in the Bookin garden.  There will also be informal presentations giving overviews of the gardens, design

elements and horticultural considerations for pruning.

Tour Hours: 10:00am to 4:00pm. Please visit the gardens during tour

hours only. Rain or Shine.

Plan Your Day

Select the gardens you would like to visit prior to the day of the tour.

Then consult your map to plan your route. Have a GPS or map in the

car with you in case you get turned around or take a side trip for coffee,

snacks or lunch.

Wear comfortable shoes, bring a hat and dress in layers. October

weather can be unpredictable! Be prepared to walk a block or two to get

to busy gardens.

Bring your pruning questions! APA members will be on hand to answer

questions about the care and techniques used in each garden.

To be added to our mailing list to receive updates on the garden tour, please click here.

Contact the tour chairperson, Dina Blackwell with any questions at


Contact to receive more information.

© 2018 Aesthetic Pruners Association, Oakland CA










Special Thanks

To the generous garden owners for sharing their beautiful gardens with

our community.

And thank you to all the volunteers who made this tour possible.

2017 Garden Tour Committee

Dina Blackwell, chairperson

Melissa Hyams, assistant chairperson and photographer

Andrea Veltman copy writer

Barbara Eaton, graphic designer

Greg Kitajima, volunteer coordinator

Michael Weber, advertising coordinator

Maryann Lewis, website design

Randall Lee, committee member

The Aesthetic Pruners Association Presents

The Art of Pruning Garden Tour

To be added to our mailing list to receive updates on future garden tours, please click here.

For information on the 2015 Art of Pruning Garden Tour click here.

For information on the 2016 Art of Pruning Garden Tour click here.

Contact the tour chairperson, Dina Blackwell with any questions at

Guest Etiquette

Please follow guidelines below to ensure everyone enjoys the tour.

Tour Hours: The gardens open at 10:00am and close at 4:00pm. Please

do not arrive before 10:00am and please leave the garden by 4:00pm.

Parking: Parking for the gardens is on-street. We recommend

carpooling. Watch for special parking instructions at select

gardens and please follow parking etiquette – do not block driveways or

double park.

Accessibility: We regret that the gardens are not wheelchair or stroller accessible.

Water: Please bring your own reusable water bottle.

Restrooms: Restrooms are not available at the gardens.

Safety: For your safety and benefit of the gardens, please stay on the pathways.

Please wear comfortable shoes that will allow you to walk on uneven

surfaces and be prepared to walk from your street parking spot to

the gardens.

Children: Children should be with you at all times. Children under the age of 10

are welcome free of charge when accompanied by a guardian.

Smoking and eating: Are not permitted in the gardens.

Pets: Are not permitted in the gardens.

Photography: You are welcome to photograph the plants for future

reference and examples of aesthetic pruning.

We are grateful for all of our volunteer garden hosts, assistants and aesthetic

pruners. Please be courteous and feel free to thank them for

making the tour possible!

Each visitor will be required to sign a waiver at the first garden

they visit on the day of the tour.

Special Thanks

To the generous garden owners for sharing their beautiful gardens with

our community.

And thank you to all the volunteers who made this tour possible.

$35.00 if purchased by October 21st by 9:00pm. $40 the day of the tour at the Wilson/Simmons garden at 33 Lane Ct., Oakland CA. Purchase your tickets here.



We gratefully acknowledge our sponsors

Thank you!

$35.00 if purchased before the tour. $40 the day of the tour. Purchase your tickets here.

Everal Mitchell truly made the best of the situation after the 1991 Oakland Hills fire destroyed her home: she had a new house built in true Japanese tradition, complete with Japanese garden and a small indoor courtyard.

The garden was designed and installed by Shigeru Namba (who installed Larry Ellison’s Woodside garden), and has been pruned by APA certified aesthetic pruner Leslie Buck for two decades. Leslie will be on hand to talk about the design of the garden and her Kyoto garden memoir, Cutting Back, which just received a NYTimes book review and many great reviews such as from San Francisco Chronicle’s Pam Pierce. The natural design of Everal’s gardens have been slowly and carefully developed to create space that feels much wider than the property actually allows. Everal’s garden is a perfect example of a beautifully designed and developed Japanese garden in California.

Everal especially enjoys the walk along the downhill side of the house, passing a variety of interesting plants along the way: camellias, pines (one used for tea ceremony), maples, pieris, podocarpus, redwood, blue atlas cedar, cryptomeria, scented rhododendron, pink-flowering dogwood, crepe myrtle, white-flowering cherries and an unusual serviceberry. In the back one finds similar plants with an outstanding laceleaf maple, a tightly pruned but natural courtyard maple (same as a huge one along the driveway), magnolias, a tumbling rhododendron and more.  Leslie Buck prunes the trees and shrubs, while Everal herself performs the high quality maintenance. Their combined effort has made this and outstanding garden. 

The owners bought this mid-century modern house 12 years ago, with the original Japanese garden designed by Mas Imazumi. APA certified aesthetic pruner and designer Bill Castellon helped them to enhance the collection. He added a number of plants, did rock work, and designed the area outside the main entry gate.

The maple just above the patio changes color from deep burgundy in spring to deep green in summer to yellow in fall, and two Hinoki cypresses are hugging the rock dramatically. The small weeping maple near the gravel pond was chosen at Momijii Nursery in Santa Rosa. Years ago, Dennis Makashima trained pruners here, and the garden is now expertly pruned by Dan Villaume, APA certified aesthetic pruner/ISA certified arborist who, together with Bill Castellon, performed a make-over pruning in 2015. Artist Michael Gard created the sculpture of the hanging dancer.

The owners of this home got married in their garden, and it inspired them to make a trip to Japan! A fire destroyed a large pine at the top of the hill but was stopped from spreading by the large boulders. The two-river symbolism is one of their favorite aspects – and the fact that the garden has brought many creative, remarkable people into their lives.

Five distinct gardens were designed to surround this house. They are bound by a common palette of plant materials in shades of green and many textures. Garden Architecture’s owner Robert Trachtenberg and his Senior Landscape Designer David Lindberg started working on the design 22 years ago; they call it "East meets West”.

The Asian inspired entrance is planted with river birches, artfully pruned laceleaf maples, bamboo and a beautifully framed olive tree. An old, sacred red maple was moved to the front, and a dry creek created along the street. APA certified aesthetic pruner Yuki Nara was consulted for the design of the front yard; she asked that a few trees be rotated and personally chose some of the focal point maples. For 15 years, Yuki Nara has been pruning all focal point trees and shrubs, including the Japanese maples, the Japanese black pine, sculptured bottle brushes, old Hollywood junipers, outstanding oaks, and more.

The upper side yard has a soothing yin-yang design dating from the property’s first owner; it hosts birches, graceful small maples, and variegated dogwoods. The large stone terrace offers stunning views carefully framed by screen plants. A steep, once overgrown hillside below was transformed into a space to explore. It features a profusion of drought-tolerant and Mediterranean ornamentals. In the lower side yard, a sports court is surrounded by hedges carefully trimmed to reinforce the clean lines of the granite stone elements.

APA certified aesthetic pruner/ISA certified arborist Dan Villaume shapes the small trees, shrubs and hedges to integrate them harmoniously into the landscape and enhance the views from inside the house. Regular fine garden maintenance is done by a crew from Garden Architecture.

What a great example of a steep, creekside paradise! The owners purchased a simple house on a steep, overgrown lot with difficult soil in 1989. When their neighbor sold her house and 4 adjacent lots, the owners started a garden transformation lasting 20+ years. The Schraven brothers from Seattle built a natural design that allows for easy and interesting meandering and includes many spaces to rest, celebrate, wander, do yoga and gather. There’s even a small swimming pool with a natural stone edge, and a statue of the Indian god, Ganesh, blessing the nearby natural creek. Many materials used were found on-site, others had to be placed with a crane. Robert Trachtenberg’s company Garden Architecture added to the design and has since been cultivating the garden under the supervision of David Lindberg.


The owners’ wish is for their place to look organic, merging elements of the dense, wild forests of northern Minnesota and the contemplative spaces of India. This is created by a combination of many plants of all sizes--from ferns and flowering shrubs to maples, fruit trees, and berries to towering oaks and conifers hosting many birds. Seating spaces, a swing, and Hindu statues found throughout the property add to the ambiance. Dan Villaume, APA certified aesthetic pruner/ISA certified arborist, prunes the shrubs and small trees. Peter Rudy from Big Chief Tree Service maintains the large trees.