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Part 1: English Tudor's country gardens are fit for royalty


By Miriam Raftery

July 19, 2010 (Mt. Helix) – Ever wonder what lies behind those gated estates on Mt. Helix? Each spring, Grossmont-Mt. Helix Improvement Association (GMIA) hosts an art and garden tour open to members only, showcasing amazingly elaborate landscapes (as well as works by local artists).

Some tour gardens are lavish, located on large lots where results are limited only by well-heeled owners’ imaginations. These range from an English country garden at a manor fit for a queen to a private jungle that Indiana Jones would envy.  Others are at more modest properties where creative homeowners have made the most of limited space and water conservation practices.  This week, we feature the first of five spectacular gardens from this year’s tour.



Al and Jennifer Westermeyer combined elements of English country gardens with touches of the tropics at their Tudor-style home, poised atop 1.75 acres on Snyder Road with commanding views of the El Cajon Valley, El Capitan and the Laguna mountains.

Workmen spent five months lining the entryway with tumbled pavers to compliment the home, where the owners enjoy entertainment guests at large garden parties. The yard features a grassy area suited for lawn-bowling, croquet, or a soccer field. One has the impression of being transported into the lush green English countryside, far from the cares of water-wise landscapers here in arid southern California. Still, this estate is impressive for its masterful use of stone, brick, multiple entertainment areas and splashes of color seemingly everywhere.

Hard-scaped elements include intricate stone and brick pillars, stone decking, and an ivy-topped gazebo with outdoor dining area and fireplace--a perfect spot for afternoon tea and crumpets.

The jewel-like showpiece of the backyard, however, is a waterfall spilling into a boulder-lined pool beside a stone terrace with ample room for entertaining a royal entourage.


Intricately carved doors herald entry to both the main house and a cozy timbered guest cottage complete with its own English-style flower garden.

Behind the waterfall, a hidden grotto/changing room is tucked inside a faux-bolder, while an overlook atop the waterfall provides dramatic vistas of these immaculately maintained grounds and the natural beauty beyond.


A hidden grove has been transformed into a child’s delight with a large play structure plus a tree house built into—and around—a massive avocado tree. This creative haven evokes memories of childhood tales such as Swiss Family Robinson, Robinson Crusoe or Treasure Island—an idyllic spot for allowing youngsters’ imaginations to run wild. 

Internationally-known artist R.D. Riccoboni was also on hand to display his paintings, which depict scenes from his travels as well as vanishing American landscapes and historic buildings for hhis Art Traveler project.  


For more on Riccoboni's artwork, visit the website for his Beacon Artworks Gallery-RD Riccoboni Studio.  



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