Tranquillity found

A tour of backyard water features will offer a touch of Zen for guests while raising funds and awareness for such charities as the AIDS Service Center in Pasadena.

A $20 ticket gains admission to the Parade of Ponds, which is actually two tours planned for May 30 and 31 — the Crescenta Valley tour including homes in Glendale, Burbank and La Crescenta, and the San Gabriel Valley Tour.

Proceeds go to AIDS Service Center in Pasadena, which serves the Glendale and Burbank areas; Five Acres, an agency that prevents child abuse; and the American Red Cross of the San Gabriel Pomona Valley, which provides disaster relief.

This is the eighth year of the Parade of Ponds, said Terry Morrill, owner of Pacific Outdoor Living, a landscaping business that has a design center in La Crescenta.

“It gives our customers an opportunity to talk to the homeowners and ask them questions, like if it’s really low maintenance,” Morrill said. “People enjoy going to nice homes and are willing to pay a price and at the same time, we can raise money for charity.”

This is the first time the AIDS center is a beneficiary of this event, said Anthony Guthmiller, director of marketing/development.

Funds will go to general operations of the center, which provides social services for families and individuals living with HIV and AIDS as well as prevention and outreach programs, he said.

“Last year, every 15 seconds someone tested positive for HIV and this year it was every 9 ½ seconds, which means people are not getting the message,” Guthmiller said.

Public perception is that AIDS is no longer an issue, he said, but it’s still a world pandemic.

“In Southern California, there are 60,000 people living with HIV and AIDS,” he said. “That’s not the scary number. Thirty percent of those, that’s the guess-timate, don’t know they are HIV positive.”

The highest rates of infection in Los Angeles County are occurring in heterosexual females ages 17 to 24, he added.

So the center has three focuses — youth, women and senior adults 55 and older — for its prevention programs.

With the introduction of Viagra, more senior adults are contracting HIV, he said.

The Pasadena center serves 1,200 clients in Los Angeles County and the San Gabriel Valley, he said. Its prevention and health education programs touch 5,000 people in San Gabriel Valley, especially Pasadena, which includes Burbank and Glendale.

The center provides housing, food and transportation assistance for clients being treated for HIV and AIDS, Guthmiller said. Also provided is home health services for clients who are assigned a nurse and social worker.

Clients have access to benefit advocates who help them secure federal, state and county financial assistance and medical treatment.

Guthmiller hopes to increase the awareness of the disease and what the center does through the Parade of Ponds and remind the public that HIV and AIDS are still very much a part of society, he said.

“A few people or a lot of people might see more about AIDS services through a casual inquiry and realize ‘I guess I didn’t know as much as I thought,’” he said.

One of the homes on the garden tour is owned by Dan Wolf and its water feature — Wolf Creek — is a man-made 30-foot stream he added about three years ago, he said.

“It’s a little patch of Northern California with its ferns and a really big redwood tree I planted about 18 years ago,” Wolf said. “[Redwoods] grow fast here if they get enough water.”

It creates a microclimate in the backyard, he said, and on a hot day one can sit on the bench by the stream and it feels much cooler, plus it’s a great stress reliever. When he opens his windows in the house, he can hear the stream running.

“There’s something about the sound, coolness and something about moving water,” he said. “It attracts wildlife and our cats drink out of the stream. It brings you closer to nature. We try to invent places like this in Southern California. Personally I’ve always loved Northern California and this is a way to bring it here.”

Burbank resident Linda De Andrea also has a home on the tour. She had her pond installed about six years ago and now her house is the destination for when friends want to barbecue, she said.

De Andrea was thinking about adding a pool but settled on a smaller scale water feature instead, she said.

“I needed some sort of water treatment for the tranquillity,” she said.

The three-tiered pond is filled with coi and surrounded by lush plants and rocks. It’s set against a backdrop of shady trees. It entices wildlife, like birds, butterflies and dragonflies, she said, as well as human guests.

“More and more people are wanting to come here,” she said.

“They are always making excuses to have barbecues — it’s Friday night or someone’s anniversary or birthday. Now they want to share recipes for barbecues. I don’t mind as long as they help with the food. I certainly didn’t build this yard for just myself.”

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