The Story of the Zanone Park and Gardens

Shortly after Ron and Melanie Kuhnel bought the Zanone House, Ron's sister Betty Kuhnel purchased the property to the south, where the original Zanone house still stands.  Subsequently Ron and Melanie purchased the property to the north, returning 2-1/2 acres to family ownership.  A project was undertaken to turn the vacant land into gardens.  People soon took to calling this the Zanone Park and Gardens, and so that is what we currently call the effort.  In addition the Original Zanone House is being remodeled

At one one time a deep creek bed ran through the property.  It had been filled in with 15,000 cubic yards of soil in anticipation of the construction of apartments on the site.   The firm of Natzler and Cunningham Designs was retained to do a concept plan for the site.    This concept plan incorporated a large pond at the south end, smaller ponds in the middle, and another pond at the bottom of the creek behind the Zanone house, all joined by a waterway fed by re-circulating pumps.   Graceco Construction removed 5,000 cubic yards of fill, built a three foot thick, eight foot high, and 55 foot long retaining wall and cistern at the south end, and did a variety of other work to build a concrete wall next to the existing driveway, straighten walls, reconstruct sidewalks, move a driveway, and pour a duplicate of a wall across the front.  The requirement was the new work be made to duplicate the concrete finish and color of the nearly 100 year old walls and walks.  They were highly successful and the finished product was remarkable. 

The grounds were initially seeded with barley and clover, and 40 large redwood trees, 10 alders, and other plants installed.  The large willows and eucalyptus were pruned by Eel River Arborists, along with the row of stately Monterey Cypress trees along G Street.    A new driveway to the north was poured, and landscaping of the north side of the house was installed.   Landscaping of the south end began in the Spring of 2001 as soon as the ground was firm enough to work.  The upper pond with the water spilling from the flume was put into operation, and wildflowers and native grasses planted.  

The photos below shows how the property looked before work begun, the work in progress at various times, and how it looks in April 2002.

In the beginning . . . . 

In 1999 the property was heavily overgrown with weeds, blackberries, and pampas grass. 

Looking north on west side (Zanone House in background)

Looking north on east side (garage in background)

Looking South on west side

Looking west on north end

Looking west on south end

View south along G Street

In 2000 . . . .

On the south end the old creek bed was excavated, the "great wall" built,  trees pruned, 40 redwoods planted, and the pond roughed out. On the north end a new driveway was constructed and new landscaping installed.

The Eucalyptus is pruned and grading begins

A huge excavator removes 5000 cubic yards of material

A new driveway is poured and landscaping begins on the north side

The new iron fence is constructed

Melanie holding plans supervises excavation

A new creek bed emerges 

A Cistern is poured at the south end

Melanie running the excavator

The forms for the new flume

Texturing the great wall

In 2001 . . . .

The ponds are running, the ground is seeded with native grasses and wildflowers, and everything is green.

The pond is operational

View of the lower pond

The streambed takes shape

Red Clover makes the ground come to life

More red clover

The streambed and middle pond as winter approaches

North side of house after landscaping

North yard from second floor

 Now in 2002 ....

Upper and middle ponds, with water spilling from cistern and flume, and waterfall into middle pond.

Close-up of cistern outlet and flume, with water spilling into main pond.