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Owner hand-crafts fantasy environment

Part II of a 5-part series on gardens featured in the Grossmont-Mt. Helix Improvement Association’s spring 2010 garden tour

By Miriam Raftery

August 7, 2010 (San Diego's East County) -- “I like Disneyland, so I created an escape environment,” said Bob Caparas, who single-handedly planted all landscaping and built each masonry wall, bridge and waterway at his private Shangri-La complete with switchback trails through a tropical jungle filled with prehistoric-style artifacts off Grandview Road.


Mayan and Aztec-style artifacts --including a petroglyph of a feather serpent god by the owner-- provide fantasy elements for the adventurous at heart along a steep, rocky trail leading to a prehistoric area complete with dinosaur bones.


The one-third acre property seems far larger, also encompassing a mini-Stonehenge made from rocks excavated on the property, as well as an Asian bridge through a bamboo forest that emerges in a grotto with Buddha statue.


Higher up, a Mediterranean garden features Corinthian columns, while a low-water cactus garden pays tribute to traditions of Mexico with Dia de los Muertos memorabilia.


Another section includes a dragon tree forest, while yet a different area features a conifer forest, authentic Northwest coastal Indian totem poles, as well as petroglyphs created by the hard-working homeowner.

Caparas unearthed a year-round stream after excavating tons of dirt, filling three dumpsters with debris from had once been a neighborhood dumping ground before he transformed the property into a setting that looks as if it came straight out of an Indiana Jones adventure movie.


He created an arched stone bridge to span the new-found waterway, as well as a primitve-style stone fountain.


He and his wife, Carol, have raised their two daughters here. But alas, the girls don’t share their father’s spirit of adventure. “They won’t go outside, because there are lizards out there,” he revealed.


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