Hope blossoms at re-opened Naval Museum in Vallejo

Taking a tour of Vallejo’s prized home gardens online helped keep the hosting Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum in the public’s eye last year. But unless a viewer had secret access to smell-o-vision, it just wasn’t the same.

Besides, “it was a lot of work,” said Jim Kern, relieved not only because the museum has re-opened, but the popular 17th Annual Vallejo Garden Tour returns as an in-person event May 16.

Yes, those out-of-towners or those with mobility issues could admire colorful gardens via still photos or video, Kern said. And yes, some clicked the donation button with much-needed contributions to the nonprofit museum at 734 Marin St.

“It was in a way better than nothing. It kept us out there and the museum’s name out there,” Kern said.

However, “it didn’t raise as much money as we normally raise,” Kern said.

The executive director is relieved the museum and the garden tour are returning to live-and-in-person operations, with an expected 300 people paying $40 each for the rights to wander around nine Vallejo yards boasting their blossoming best begonias, radiant roses, dynamic daisies and …well, you get the picture.

“The main thing we’re concerned about is that everyone can go on the tour safely. Homeowners have the ability to control the flow of traffic through yards, so I think everyone will be safe,” Kern said.

After a brief illness, Jim Kern has returned to head the Vallejo Naval Historical Museum and the in-person Vallejo Garden Tour. (Chris Riley—Times-Herald) 

Nine gardens is the ideal number to venture through during the tour’s 11 to 4 p.m. time-frame, Kern said.

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“Otherwise, there’s too many stops,” he said.

Kern said the pandemic created a banner year for landscaping.

“People have been into gardening because they’ve been staying home,” he said.

Nobody could agree more than Ward Stewart, 10 years into retirement as a math professor at the University of California at Davis and a Vallejoan since 1977. Stewart threw his hibiscus in the ring for the first time.

“This is in better shape than it was a year ago,” grinned Stewart, surveying all this is planted in the back of his home on S. Regatta Drive in Glen Cove.

Typically, Stewart and his wife, retired Patterson Elementary School principal Elyssa Shanks Stewart, “would go somewhere,” he said.

Not this past year. Not with a pandemic anchoring the couple to their waterfront home. Ward turned lemons into lemonade. Literally.

“I planted all this stuff,” pointed Stewart from an elevated deck.

There’s a vegetable garden of onions, potatoes, garlic, beans, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. Eureka and Meyer lemons. Pink grapefruit. Bottlebrush, perennial collard. Birburnum. Bougainvillea. Salvias. Japanese maples.

Admittedly, the pressure of being one of the chosen nine motivated Stewart to clean up his backyard act: lots of weeding, more planting.

And, just like the old Hair Club for Men commercial — “I’m not just the president, I’m a client” — Stewart is chair of the Garden Tour committee. So yes, he basically voted himself in, joking that “after bitter debate … I paid them a lot of money.”

Stewart’s home is deserving of the …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

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