Debbie Arrington

A bittersweet moment in Huei’s garden

In the master bedroom, a seating area overlooks the backyard garden at the home of Huei Young, an Asian-inspired oasis in Davis, Calif.
In the master bedroom, a seating area overlooks the backyard garden at the home of Huei Young, an Asian-inspired oasis in Davis, Calif. jvillegas@sacbee.com

Gardeners take to heart life’s cycle of love and loss. Each spring, they find joy in new beginnings while letting go of the past. That bittersweet balance is nature at work, the essence of feng shui.

Huei Young, whose magical Asian garden has become a local landmark in north Davis, is once again opening her private oasis to benefit Shriners Hospitals for Children in Sacramento.

A feng shui expert, Young has dedicated most of her life to living in harmony with nature. Her garden brims with her positive energy. But this month of open garden weekends follows a winter of personal loss.

Frank Young, her husband, died Feb. 10 from several health issues. A direct descendent of the city’s first Chinese family, he was 86 and had lived in Davis all his life. The accomplished draftsman was also an Army veteran and worked for Aerojet and UC Davis for many years. With Huei’s help, he recovered from a devastating 1997 spinal cord injury to become a beloved volunteer, preparing and delivering food to the needy at Davis Community Meals.

Huei has always credited her feng shui garden with helping her husband’s recovery. In his final months, she again turned to her garden for solace.

She converted the garage of their midcentury modern home into an “oasis room” with a constant view of the meditation garden.

“It doesn’t look like it was a conversion, but (part of) the original design of the house,” she said before Frank’s death. “It allows my husband to get the care he needs in a pleasant home environment. There is a continuous wood porch, extending past where the garage door used to be.”

Frank’s oasis room features a bathroom with a roll-in shower and other amenities for a hospice patient.

“I chose warm, cheerful colors for the room, in contrast to the white, sterile rooms that so many patients stay in during their recovery,” she said.

After Frank’s death, Huei turned her attention back to the garden and her annual spring tours. The chance to share her passion has become a spring ritual, benefiting young patients at Shriners.

“I have gone through a tough time,” she said, noting her 2016 tours will honor her husband. “Frank’s birthday is on the 11th of April, so I have garden tours every weekend (that month).

“The tours will benefit the hospital’s Comprehensive Cerebral Palsy Program that diagnoses and works to maximize the mobility of the treated children, through surgery, therapy and mechanical aids,” Huei said. “One hundred percent of the money is going to the program.”

As for the garden, it’s more beautiful than ever with its mix of succulents, Japanese maples and junipers. Cyclamen, freesias and other spring flowers add bursts of energetic color.

A traditional wooden bridge arches gracefully over a small pond. Bright red Chinese lanterns dance in the Delta breeze above the wrap-around porch. The soothing sound of water blocks out any distractions.

This is Huei’s little slice of heaven, one she shared for so many years with her husband and, for a few weekends each spring, with the rest of the world.

“I think my garden brings people peace and tranquility,” she said. “When they have peace, they are happy.”

Huei’s garden tour

Where: 234 Luz Place, Davis

When: 10-11 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday every weekend in April

Admission: $25; for reservations, contact Joseph Ramos at 916-453-2018 or email joramos@shrinenet.org; tickets also available at Green Acres Nursery & Supply (Sacramento store)

Details: www.hueisgarden.com

See Huei Young’s private Asian oasis and help Shriners Hospitals’ Comprehensive Cerebral Palsy Program

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