Allied Arts Guild head gardener Kathleen Bryan Aquiar is all set for spring garden tour

by Linda Hubbard on April 12, 2016

When we visited with Allied Arts Guild head gardener Kathleen Bryan Aquiar, accompanied by photographer Betsy Sergeant Snow, the wisteria, planted in 1932, was in bloom.

blooms with wisteria_vert“It’s original to the property,” Kathleen explained. “It’s so old that it’s pulled the post out of the ground! People do love coming here to see it.”

While it may have peaked in March, Kathleen promises that more plants will be in bloom for the Spring Walk About in the Gardens on Friday, April 15, at 2:00 pm. Kathleen will lead a garden tour; a suggested donation of $10 will support the garden work of Friends of Allied Arts.

Although Kathleen grew up on the Peninsula, she had not heard of Allied Arts when she answered an ad for an assistant gardener to Filoli-trained Karen Tarter. “The Allied Arts continues to be Menlo Park’s best kept secret,” she said. “But we don’t want it to be a secret. It’s a place that needs to be visited and treasured. And it has a tradition of female gardeners!”

roses with dewKathleen left to work at a golf course but returned as head gardener two years later.

“My Italian grandmother always gardened,” she said. “Family vacations were camping at Yosemite. I was always an outdoor girl and knew I wanted to work outdoors. So, I enrolled in the horticultural program at CSM.”

She explained that the footprint of the Allied Arts garden is essentially the same, although she and her one assistant are always “taking out old things and making improvements.”

She finds her work challenging and rewarding — and looks forward to leading the tour. “The roses will be out!” she promised.

Footnote for those not familiar with the Allied Arts Guild: In addition to gardens, there are artisan shops and a cafe. The complex is owned and operated by the Allied Arts Guild Auxiliary whose mission is to raise funds to support uncompensated care at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.

pedals with dew

dramatic flower

Photos by Betsy Sergeant Snow

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