Big Springs News 3/27/13

From Nevada City Chamber

Big Springs Gardens Will Live On!

March 22, 2013

Zinda and Perry Colburn, founders who made famous the Happy Frog Garden Nursery in Grass Valley, California will become the next Stewards of Big Springs Gardens in Sierra City.

These are the words of Don Phillips who half century ago acquired a quarter section of wild and untended forest and turned it into a garden oasis with thousands of flowering plants, extensive groomed paths, miles of hiking trails, and a garden terrace restaurant overlooking a one acre pond filled with water lilies and rainbow trout crowned with its Monet style bridge.

Phillips who will be celebrating his 90th birthday in October reminisced about the evolution that has taken place over the last 50 years, being first enjoyed as a campsite, then for a annual week long rendezvous for family and friends. Then in 1988 significant changes began to take place.  Landscaping on a major scale was undertaken with thousands of flowers, plants, roads, paths, trails, the pond and construction of the home.

The first seminal event occurred in 2000 and was destined to change the future of Big Springs Gardens. I was walking alone, Phillips recalls, on one of the trails and looked down and saw the house, the flowering garden, the pond with its Japanese style bridge and was awe struck with the beauty I was beholding. Without thinking I heard myself saying: “There is too much here-it should be shared.” The future of Big Springs Gardens had been revealed to me and I set to work to make it happen.

The second seminal event relates to what happens to Big Springs Gardens when I am no longer here to take care of it. To my immense relief that pressing question is now resolved. How it came about is one of my most treasured memories. By great fortune Zinda and I both happened to be at the Villager Nursery in Truckee. Zinda looked me straight in the eye and said “ I want to help you.” I was overwhelmed with emotion-my eyes grew moist- I felt weak and was so relieved and overjoyed it was difficult to speak.  This is not the first time Zinda and Perry Colburn have been there to help Big Springs Gardens.

They have played an integral part in the gardens from its very inception. All of the plants, shrubs, and trees came from the Happy Frog Nursery in Grass Valley. Zinda and Perry have been my mentors, providing invaluable advice on what could be planted and providing the support and encouragement that has been so vital in making the gardens what they are today.

Phillips is ecstatic when he describes how this all came about and regards, it as a miracle that was meant to be. What you really see in this landscape, he explains, are Zinda and Perry’s plants and now they are coming home to take care of them and establish Big Springs as a world class garden which under their stewardship it is destined to become.

The job ahead is challenging and will require the support of many dedicated people. The Foundation must be established and funded. The plan is that Phillips will transfer the 118 acre forest along with the house and all the improvements to the Foundation for only a fraction of its market value and Zinda and Perry as Stewards of the land will take it into the future.

If you would like to play a roll in all this, you will be welcomed with open arms.  For more information on Big Springs Gardens, please

One thought on “Big Springs News 3/27/13

  1. Was moved by the program Garden Smart highlighting Big Springs Gardens today 3/29/2014 (repeat from 2013) to learn more of Mr. Phillips’ vision and creation. I was motivated by the program to understand more about Mr. Phillips’ contributions to life. An understanding of nature has allowed others to make contributions to society in fields often appearing as related. Nature helps man understand the world.

    I was impressed with Mr. Phillips’ delivery, sensitivity, reverence of nature and his desire to experience a bucolic ease and relaxation through the harnessing of natural waters and preservation of a beautiful piece of land enhancing it with a home designed to withstand time.

    It is wonderful to know that his creation will be cared for. His property will inspire others. His enhancements are truly an inspiration to fulfill one’s dreams in whatever path a person may take.

    Excellent story! I hope that Mr. Phillips envisions another project. He should dictate his ideas for others to share.

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