Casa Dos Rios means ‘house of two rivers.’ It is named for the two creeks that border the 14 acres of gently sloping land in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, ½ hour southeast of San Jose near Gilroy, California. The property is located on the site of a former Ohlone Indian village. Grinding mortars where the Ohlone Indians ground acorns and seeds for food and medicinal purposes are still in evidence in the creekbeds. Petroglyphs can still be seen from the neighboring interpretive park, Chitactac-Adams Heritage County Park. Roughly half of the property is composed of creeks and their surrounding habitat, including old Sycamores, Oaks and California Buckeyes as well as many other native riparian species.
Cool water flows year-round in Uvas Creek, supporting the wild population of endangered Steelhead Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). The second creek, Little Arthur, dries up between June and September each year, leading to an abundance of wildflowers that favor the gravel-bars. The upper half of the property hosts a 4 acre cabernet sauvignon vineyard, a Spanish-style estate home and several native plant gardens.
The initial landscaping project was designed by Landscape Architect and native garden specialist Michael Thilgen of Four Dimensions Landscaping in Oakland, California and was completed in June, 2007. It features the nearly one acre semi-formal all-native House Garden. This garden includes over 120 tons of natural stone, a basalt column fountain, stone walls, a lookout point with a view of Mount Madonna, bogs, a rock garden, swimming pool, meadows, seating areas, artwork and an organic vegetable garden. Over 100 native plant species were carefully chosen for the garden with an emphasis on central California native plants. Much of the garden has been organized in large groupings in order to appreciate the full beauty of each species. Other gardens include chaparral habitat in the Upper Riparian Garden, the Horseshoe Court Garden which is sits under the shade of mature Oak and Olive Trees, the Entry Garden near the main gate and the property’s Border Garden where emphasis was placed on screen plants to block views of nearby homes.
Upcoming garden projects include a Redwood Grove Garden, Lower Creek Garden and Front Fence Garden. Additionally, the owners hope to slowly remove non-native species from the creekbeds and restore native plants to the area.
Prior to installation of the gardens, the Spanish-style estate was renovated using numerous eco-friendly methods and includes locally built cabinets made from Forest Certified Lumber, hand-painted murals, custom-built furniture and a spectacular mozaic by Texas artist Deb Carlson Wight of a native Valley Oak over the hand-carved limestone fireplace. Photos of the before and after remodel will be included in the ‘House’ section of this website, as well as the pros and cons of using different eco-friendly materials and methods.
Casa Dos Rios is owned by Greg and Jean Myers, both natives of Northern California. Greg’s favorite pastime is golf and Jean’s is bird-watching. The dream was to replace the previous non-native water-hungry garden with a native garden that would support wildlife and reduce dependency on well water. Since completing the garden, many new species of butterflies, birds and other wildlife have been seen in the garden. We hope that someday you can come to the South County to see our garden and view the beauty and benefits of a native habitat.