Debbie Arrington

Davis gardener’s giving side to benefit Shriners

By Debbie Arrington

As she has done in the past, Huei Young (shown above in June) is offering tours of her Davis garden to raise money for a charitable cause. This time, the tours will support Shriners Hospitals’ Comprehensive Cerebral Palsy Program.
As she has done in the past, Huei Young (shown above in June) is offering tours of her Davis garden to raise money for a charitable cause. This time, the tours will support Shriners Hospitals’ Comprehensive Cerebral Palsy Program. Sacramento Bee file

Huei Young believes in the power of positive energy. With a perennially effervescent attitude, she spreads her enthusiasm wherever she goes, including the gym.

One recent workout opened the gates of her wonderful Davis garden to new visitors – for a good cause.

Readers may remember Young’s garden, which was featured in Home & Garden in June. A local landmark, it has also been showcased on “Good Day Sacramento” and HGTV. A blend of Asian styles, it’s her own tranquil oasis as well as a tribute to her artist father. Decorated with Chinese red lanterns, her retreat includes three waterfalls, a mirrorlike koi pond, a charming red bridge and many other touches that emphasize her personal connection with nature in harmony.

Planted with great love, the peaceful garden has been tenderly nurtured for three decades by Young, who occasionally hosts tours for local charities.

Dr. Jon Davids, a staff member of Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California, read about Young’s garden and recognized her at the gym.

“The assistant chief of surgery for the Shriners, who works out at the same club as I do, saw (The Bee’s article), heard about my fundraising efforts and asked if I would be interested in helping the Shriners Hospitals for Children,” Young recalled.

“Since they are well known for their work and were willing to help promote the garden tours, I offered to help. He put me in touch with the Shriners’ director of development, who came out and saw the garden and agreed it would make a great fundraising opportunity for them.”

Alan Anderson, the Shriners Hospitals’ director of development for Northern California, said that money raised by the tours would support the facility’s Comprehensive Cerebral Palsy Program.

“Each year, more than 20,000 children receive specialized care (at Shriners Hospitals),” Anderson noted. “Many of these children remain patients of ours for years with results that are truly astonishing.”

Hospital staff will help coordinate the tours, and Young will handle the rest. She’s pretty flexible about times and dates, but prefers groups of at least 10. If there’s enough interest, the coordinator may try to put together groups of individuals.

“People will be able to arrange tours until the weekend preceding Christmas, and then again in spring, starting in March or April,” Young said. “Saturday or Sunday tours are preferred. … Garden clubs are especially welcome, since they will have larger groups of people interested in gardening.”

For a $25 suggested donation, guests will enjoy Young’s abundant hospitality. Explaining the many feng shui aspects of the garden’s design, she’ll guide visitors on a personalized tour, then serve finger foods, beverages and other light refreshments. Her stories and bubbly personality make her a very entertaining hostess.

To arrange for a tour, contact Joseph Ramos, events coordinator at Shriners Hospital for Children, (916) 453-2018 or

Right now, Young’s garden shows the bright colors of autumn, particularly the regal red Japanese maples. She also added seasonal flowers in white, blue, yellow and red to emphasize certain aspects of feng shui in the garden’s design.

“Some of the Japanese maples have maintained a surprising amount of leaves for November,” she said, “but all of them still demonstrate pleasing structure.”

Any time of year, Young feels lucky to have her little slice of backyard heaven and to be able to share it with more garden lovers. But it’s the good fortune of others to visit.

Holiday inspiration

Need a dose of seasonal spirit? Consider a holiday home tour.

Volunteers for local tours are putting the finishing touches on these fundraising community extravaganzas, which can take months to pull together. As organizers will attest, it takes a neighborhood to build a successful tour.

For example, Sacred Heart Parish School hosts its 41st Holiday Home Tour in East Sacramento’s Fabulous Forties neighborhood on Dec. 5-7. Of the five homes on the tour, four were recruited from Sacred Heart’s neighborhood without direct ties to the school.

“We start looking in February,” said co-chairwoman Charlotte Lazio, who talked 42nd Street neighbors Neal and Heidi Cordeiro onto this year’s tour. “We had most of our homes locked up by May.”

Lazio’s own home was on the Sacred Heart tour in 2012. Her next-door neighbors volunteered their home last year. The Cordeiros live on the other side of that house.

“I’m working down the block, and it was their turn,” Lazio quipped.

Last year’s Sacred Heart tour sold out its advance tickets, drawing 5,000 patrons. Tickets ($30 in advance, $35 day of tour) for this December’s sojourn are now on sale. Go to

▪ Six more magnificent homes will be part of the Assistance League of Sierra Foothills’ always popular Home for the Holidays tour Dec. 6-7 in El Dorado County. These estates feature more than decorations and spectacular views. Musicians provide live entertainment. Raffles offer gourmet prizes (including a collection of of local wine) and vacation packages. A “candy bar” worthy of Santa’s helpers tempts visitors to spoil their dinners.

The houses seem a world away from Sacramento, too. One stop is a working “fiber farm,” with llamas, sheep alpacas, goats and rabbits. Another is a French-inspired country manor filled with vintage decorations and perched on the edge of American River Canyon with panoramic views.

Tickets ($25 general, $10 children) are available now at several locations including Pottery World in Rocklin and El Dorado Hills, the California Welcome Center in El Dorado Hills, Folsom Chamber of Commerce and El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce in Placerville. For more details, click on

▪ With an emphasis on architecture, nine historic homes and sites will be part of the Historic Folsom Holiday Home Tour, Dec. 13-14. The featured homes represent 70 years of architectural evolution from the 1850s to the 1920s. This tour usually sells out, too, so get tickets ($20) early from such locations as Folsom History Museum, Folsom Chamber of Commerce and Green Acres’ Folsom nursery. Check out the details at

Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington. Read her Seeds columns at