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Fabulous Penryn garden opens to public

Saturday, June 18, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
By: Elizabeth Speth, Loomis News Correspondent
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A rare and brilliant jewel of a garden, hidden in the rolling hills of Penryn, will be open this Saturday. Frank and Ruby Andrews’ Maple Rock Gardens can be visited from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., this Saturday, June 18. Tickets are $5 at the gate, with proceeds benefiting the Sacramento Children’s Home. The couple’s lush 3.5-acre, private gardens are the brainchild of wife Ruby Andrews; while Frank Andrews takes credit for the approximately 1,000 feet of landscaped, g-scale railroad. Originally a 30-acre fruit orchard, most of the property is now home to grazing cattle. The gardens are covered with 35 varieties of Japanese maples and granite paths. The Andrews are the former owners of Alta Sierra Towing, but now they spend their time playing tennis and gardening. Ruby Andrews loves to take visitors strolling beneath dusky Fuji apples ripening on trees, pointing out water features and the wisteria, rose and morning glory arbors; while Jenny, the Labradoodle, cools off in the mud of a nearby pond. “The dogs love it here. So do the birds, the bees and the butterflies. I planted it mostly for them,” she said. Ruby Andrews is an eclectic gardener, who said she “tries a little bit of everything.” She has built a number of outdoor rooms into her garden including a wedding chapel. A Japanese garden nurtures bamboo stands and overlooks rolling pastures with views of the far-off Sutter Buttes. A walled perennial garden includes tall palms, rugged stone benches and a fire pit. The area was originally planned to be a swimming pool. “The pool didn’t survive the budget cuts,” Ruby said. “I decided I wanted plants instead.” Outdoor structures include a humid and fragrant plant hospital where Ruby nurses ailing plants back to health. The Redwood Pavillion is an Asian garden house filled with sculptures and water plants, where the temperature noticeably drops several degrees. Her wooded walkways are lined with birdhouses and visitors can hear the trickle of a fountain before they see the meticulously-planted English vegetable garden that surrounds it. The beds also boast rhubarb plants and blueberry bushes. “This is the most formal, structured space, and it’s really not like me at all,” Ruby Andrews said. She said she doesn’t have a favorite plant on her property, or a favorite place. “People ask me that all the time, but I really can’t say. It depends on the day, the time of year, my mood – I love all of it,” Ruby Andrews said. The outdoor railroad is a major feature of the garden. Ruby Andrews said she happily ceded the railroad design her husband, calling him the “railroad fan.” Frank Andrews said he has been collecting the railroad pieces for years. “We have live steam and battery powered models, all remote control,” Frank Andrews said proudly. The railroad buff said he had some building help from Earl Martin, a member of the Sacramento Valley Garden Railway Society. Martin said the Andrews’ railroad “is pretty spectacular, as far as height. It climbs a good 15 feet. The size is also amazing. If you look at it to scale, it’s about five miles of tracks. That’s very extensive.” The Andrews said they are expecting hundreds of visitors to attend the tour. Ruby Andrews invited guests to bring a picnic lunch. “We have cool water, and cookies, but we want visitors to come prepared if they want to eat. Bring a sack lunch. Have a picnic. There are beautiful spots to eat everywhere,” she said. For maps and more information, go to maplerockgardens.com or email the Andrews at maplerock1@earthlink.net.