A California Dream Garden Brings Healing and Wholeness

A California Dream Garden Brings Healing and Wholeness

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A California Dream Garden Brings Healing and Wholeness

Twenty years ago, John Calhoun uprooted his life in the San Francisco Bay Area suburbs. He left a stressful job in architecture and sold all his possessions in hopes of finding peace and well-being on 8 acres in Fort Bragg, a town farther north on the California coast.

Calhoun, who was living with HIV, wasn’t looking for a project or the opportunity to create his dream home in the country. “I thought it would be a nice place to live out the remaining days,” he says. “I didn’t buy the property with the idea of creating a huge garden.”

But the garden, which Calhoun has cultivated for two decades, digging his hands into the soil and filling it with thousands of plants, revived him. “I think the garden has played the largest role of anything in my life,” he says.

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Nelida Mejia
That is a great article. Thank you for sharing with us. The land is like a sanctuary. I love it.
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justwaiting

Beautiful, beautiful, garden and inspiring story. More of these, please.

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Molly Miles
Thankyou Houzz and John. Your words and video and your garden filled my heart today! I’m on the other side of cancer treatment and this story was another reminder to myself to live the rest of my time here on earth with love, joy and gratitude! Molly
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Meagan

Beautiful!

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gguilf

The photos don't do justice to this magnificent haven. Must watch the video. Great work John! Air B 'n B?

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lhee123

สวยมาก เหมือนภาพในฝัน ที่อยาก ไปเยี่ยม สักครั้ง ในชีวิต

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pennycooll14
Magnificent video and inspiring story!
Such a blessing to be contribute to the beauty of nature and be part of it
Wonderful! Wonderful article Houzz
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Monica Jaye

Absolutely lovely made me smile! Will someday have a garden like this I wish!

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qaphelam
absolutely beautiful
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skmom
It’s perfect!
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lunapranalover

Hope you and your beautiful sanctuary is safe from the fires.

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aniam55
Such a beautiful garden. It makes me want to breathe deeper. And then run into my garden... except that I can't because I strained my ankle ;)
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Joanna Jensen

Thank you so much for sharing! So healing just looking at the pictures and video! I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer a year ago. People question my sanity when I go out and work for hours in the garden, but it is deeply healing to the soul to work with soil and plants. The pictures of your garden just made me decide that my garden needs a pond - chemo be damned!

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Sonny 62

Inspiring story, beautiful garden. One could say that in taking care of your garden, the garden has taken care of you. Thanks for sharing your sanctuary, John, and may you have many more years of “living in the now.”

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bsheer
Beautiful story
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lydiacech
Perfection! So glad that people standing between natural beauty and perfect human idea still exist.
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tiggycombe
What an amazing garden and outdoor space love it !
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Bette P

This is a wonderful story! You are so fortunate John that you realized you needed to make a big change to improve both your physical health and mental health and ignore the income you left behind as an architect. I love to putter in my garden in southern Ontario in Canada. I retired myself at 54 from a somewhat stressful job as an insurance broker, I can totally relate to this. Congrats on your chosen lifestyle, it looks so good on you and your property!

The horses running at the end of the video, so timely! Gotta love drones for those shots!

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nosson klein

what a beautiful and inspiring place

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Joan Rose
This is absolutely beautiful! I can appreciate the skill and trial and error you endured while creating such a spectacular haven. I will be in Northern California visiting my son and his fiancé next month. I will let them know of your Airbnb. Enjoyed your story and pictures.
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Sharon Kelly
Wow. I had a Field of Dreams-esque kind of vibe looking at your magnificent property, John. Delighted to see that you have been able to manage your health, channel your creativity and give back to nature-youre an inspiration. Wishing you continued good health and happiness
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mrshanson1

I'm so glad that you have found peace (and a healthier life) in your garden. It is gorgeous! You have created new life in the earth. That in turn has given you a special joie de vivre, or la bella vita. Congrats!

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Derviss Design

Inspirational. Thanks for sharing the beauty and your story.


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E Johnson

What an inspiring and uplifting story. Thank you for this!


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Noraini Abdul Aziz

You made the greatest decision. Life around trees is the perfect life people can live. I can't wait to quit my job in the city and live in the small town. Countdown to the day.

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jeanieolson
Very inspiring! Thank you for sharing.
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Colleen Buchanan
Very inspirational. You’ve done an amazing job with development of the land and gardens. Well done! May you continue to enjoy the fruit of your labor for many more years to come.
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Interior Door and Closet Company
It's really great to hear stories like this. This is an inspiration not only in the world of design but also in life.
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Katie
Wow! Such beauty and I love that it came together very organically without a real plan.
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Michelle K
John...you felt...you listened...you trusted. And the beauty and bounty that have grown from that healed not only your mind, body and soul...but that incredible healing, compassionate, grounding, loving energy you have nurtured is amplified out into the universe. How f*****g cool is that!! Thank you for you. Peace and Love! ~Michelle K.
   
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lydia1144

You have created a beautiful garden John, and listening to its needs has let it hear yours and contribute to your healing. Many, many more years of health and mindful living to you. Thank you for sharing your story.

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kimmmyj
The garden and story are beautiful. Thank you. Can you share what stone you used in the photo with the rhododendron?
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Wanda Brown
Our visit to Fort Bragg was memorable for its ocean views and gardens. It is a perfect place to get in touch with nature. So glad to see the fruits of this man’s passion.
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kamicos

Wow, absolutely incredible. From the part time job at a nursery (what a great idea) to the end result being serene, calming beauty. I have no doubt you've healed yourself in so many ways not to mention healing a tiny section of the planet (when needed most). Bravo Sir!

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designanddine

What a beautiful sanctuary! Mother Nature is the ultimate provider. ✨

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Pauline Clapp

Thank you for the beautiful gift and the spectacular view


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Bobbi Jo Domitrovich

I absolutely loved this post. Inspiring, peaceful, beautiful!

   
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Shoshana Bloom

I nearly did not open this as I live in an apartment and cannot have a garden. But I am so happy for you finding your passion and improving your health and sharing this wonderful masterpiece with us. I love the ocean and live about an hour away and never go and you have inspired me to try go at least once a week and heal myself. Thanks again for sharing

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ljmm88

beautiful and inspirational story,,warmed my heart! I feel happy inside just seeing the gardens created out of the need to find peace and solitude for ones health..it is amazing what one person can do to find that inner peace and create the gardens and landscape with such gratitude..thank you for sharing and so happy you are doing so well!

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Xiomi Collado-Jessup
John what a wonderful peaceful place you have Created. Your life and your sanctuary are both beautiful and inspiring. May you continue your life’s journey in great health and faith.
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D Farrar Designs
What a beautiful place and inspiring story...it makes feel like I am on the right path to turning my back yard in to my own sanctuary. thank you, Houzz for sharing!
   
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Prescott Window and Door

Thank you! Very inspiring! Best video I've ever seen on HOUZZ. Looks like Heaven on Earth!

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Sue Anderson

Living the dream. It's a beautiful thing. I lived in Ft Bragg in the 70's and fully appreciated the nature there. You've made it into an exquisite paradise. Here's to another 20 years!

   
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donnacox
Beautiful spirit and beautiful healing place that you have created!
Love it❤️
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Karen Covington

Absolutley stunning! Just shows how far dedication, drive and true passion can take one on their journey.

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llringrl
Oh my gosh! This sanctuary is amazing! It’s the best I’ve seen in a very long time! I felt a calming effect just watching the video. Thank you sooo much for sharing....
Congratulations for this wonderful and I’m sure satisfying accomplishment!
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kvamster

Wow. Just watching that leaves me inspired and wishing I could walk around and take it in! Thanks for sharing.

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BRC Interior Design

Beautiful story and a lovely garden. Sooo serene.

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kalqlate

What a wonderful story. I wish we all are able to find and build our place of peace and tranquility.

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garlichillfarm

This is truly the epitome of what gardening is all about. John has created a wonderful garden paradise.

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amberpine

John, True inspiration and beauty. Would love to visit your Airbnb and appreciate the wonderful sanctuary you have created.

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Rachael Gerber

I am literally crying at the beauty you have created. Your celebration of the world and your reverence for the natural world inspire me.

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deedeeg

Thank you! More like these please.

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Janis Koch

Thanks for sharing this wonderful journey and inspiring us all to reconnect with nature and ultimately ourselves through her. You have inspired me. Thank you again.

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Cabinets Plus Limited

It is amazing to see the healing power of nature on the human life. Thank you for the inspiring story. It will be your footprint on this earth for years to come.

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dpuniquity

I love your garden spaces. I am now at the point where I am stopping the constant addition of new plants and am beginning to just enjoy what I have (with needed maintenance only).

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pattyrice

That garden is a magical place. I have no doubt it is a place of healing and restoration.

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John Selser

So glad you chose to share your dream and vision with us. I would love to walk the gardens with you, but I'm on the other side of the country. Will try to create my own garden. Thanks for the inspiration. You have a calming demeanor that is so pleasant. thanks. John Selser

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pasterick

Magnificent . . . at every level. Thank you for sharing, John.

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lynnmarie2222

What a lovely and uplifting story. The gardens were absolutely breathtaking...calm, serene and oh so beautiful. John's voice and demeanor amplified that feeling of peaceful serenity. Thanks to everyone involved for a great video.


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jenifren

What can I say that hasn't already been said. Just beautiful. So happy for this man. Inspiring way to start the day, thank you.


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clynch60

Life has a way of telling us what we need - thank God you listened!!

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bonniedale22

So very beautiful and serene. Thanks.

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Terry King
Wow! Nice place to inspire others to slow down and enjoy the beauty that we often overlook.
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Dolly

Very beautiful and inspirational garden. Thanks for sharing.

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rachaelhummell

Lovely story and video. Very pleasing to the viewer. Beautiful garden and nice use of furniture throughout.

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brendino
absolutely beautifull...God bless u sir
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Cynthia Askerooth-Olson

John....I am so hoping that your part of the world has healing rain NOW! We all need to return to nature. Japan calls it Forest Bathing”. May your life continue in JOY and abundance! Love, Cynthia from Minnesota

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rhudgins

Beautiful story, amazing property.

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carmel1211

Just watching the video brings peace. Inspirational, not only for the beauty of the garden,but from the gardener’s shared lessons about how to live a fullfilling life, while adding to the beauty of the world. Here’s to his long life and continuing efforts.

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starfaced
John is living inside of a prayer. Just like the self-propagating pond with flowers and plants, the worker butterflies and bees....John is self-pollinating his own life. Teach now others who are facing the fire storms. Give nature some room, stand back and believe...it will all re-populate.....just ask John.
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kiddalton

Simply spectacular. Thank you so much for sharing. I love the way your brain thinks!

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Colleen Griffin

What a wonderful example of the healing capacity of plants. I am a horticultural therapist living on the east coast. Your story embodies the philosophy of my profession and has the power to inspire many to improve their health by way of nature. Thank you.

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villageproper

Thank you for sharing your beautiful gardens with us! I really appreciate your approach to your garden and your ability to share with the local wildlife.

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Aubrey Bodt
This might be my all time favorite Houzz article! It reminded me in ways of my childhood. I really loved the video too because it lets the viewer “wander” the property as the story’s told. John, you’re a wonderful inspiration to anyone looking to not only garden, but also to shape nature in a thoughtful, nurturing, and considerate manner. Thank you for sharing your lovely garden with us here on Houzz.
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cleofk

what a stunning slice of heaven you've created. i am so happy that you are hea lthy and happy! xx

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Peter Lyimo
Yes l like it somuch
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tybeelibhz

I've never commented on a Houzz story but found this particularly inspiring. Thanks for sharing. Such a beautiful property. There is nothing like digging in the dirt to heal body and soul.

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vanosch

Beautiful story, beautiful property, beautiful soul!

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colindaparent

inspiring!

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Georg Sparber
Awesome.
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Roberta B
Hi John...your journey is inspirational...in every way...and of course a magnificent unfolding of Nature’s Symphony...thank you for sharing!
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Marlene Shade

John:

i think we went to Clemson together and I am delighted to see your garden and you.

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laparva

This is so motivational and to think he accomplished all of this with his own hands. What a magnificent way to have spent 20 years. It's his baby so to speak.

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firechick364

WOW.....I hope my space can be as relaxing and inspirational as this garden/yard someday. Thank you for sharing.

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Ena Smith

I love it, that property is so beautiful, well taken care of. tranquil, and serenity somewhere that you can't wait to get home from work to. I pray that he live a very long life to continue to enjoy his property!

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DAG DAG

Wow. Nice guy. Impressive garden. Impressive story. Best wishes to you and your future. And after seeing the gardens/view, I will admit to a case of garden envy.

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Judith Kerr

Beautiful.....you have done a wonderful setting for yourself and you look very healthful too. I don't think I would want to even leave to go shopping.....just hang there everyday:)!

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imho22

Glorious garden, wonderful story about making the right choices for a life. The video is extraordinarily beautiful.



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chezbon

A wonderful story for troubled times, thank you John. I lived in Berkeley for several years in the late 60s and early 70s, and have been to Fort Bragg, but not recently. A property with redwoods around it is priceless. Its development over time has allowed the garden to tell you what it wants and needs. I am a Californian who lives in the south of France, the opposite climate to Fort Bragg. Nevertheless, the same principles and connections to the land are present. Things arrive, plants and animals, if you create a space for them. You have created an important space, for yourself and all who see it.

bonnie in Provence

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Shireen Kalaldeh
we all belongs to mother nature
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Maria Clara Heise
Fantastic!! Loved the garden and your amazing history !
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Vici W.

beautiful story, lovely man, and what he has created is a special kind of paradise.

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Antonia

John thank you for sharing your breathtaking gardens and tender story of good health and monumental well being. May your gentle soul continue to find happiness and peace in the beauty you created.

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clairethompsonhomes

Heals my heart just to watch this video. VERY well done!

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Patsy Winger

A wonderful story and a wonderful place ...thank you for showing me.


   
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Patrick Coffman

John sure picked a good crew to fly the drone and do a masterful video, and needless to say the botanical show is a work of art.

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Melanie Fernandes
Exquisite garden, so much TLC. Bless you!
   
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Cathy-Ann Xavier-Kangaloo
Absolutely beautiful! That will be a place where I will visit and stay! Do you do a B & B?
   
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livingmystyle
Thank you for sharing your beautiful garden !
   
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rosestnt
Amazing story,amazing sanctuary!
   
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brindalmadison1911

I wonder how many lives this wonderful story has changed for those who have watched it. I am going to save it and read and watch it again when things seem to be too much. It is a therapeutic, gentle story reminding us of what is important.

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Eva Schafroth

Amazing! I want a garden like this!

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janierickert
Lovely, thanks for sharing your wonderful passion!
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Kaiguy

Truly inspiring. Wow. What's an incredible space this gentleman created.

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Kathy Volpi
Made me feel so peaceful and happy. Thank u for sharing your beautiful story and haven
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Rohini Patel
Beautiful garden
   
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Donna Anderson
So beautiful! My soul longs for a place like this.
   
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anidon21

Wow, this is beautiful and looks so peaceful.

   
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Dominique Gagné
Beautiful!
   
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yankeegirl184

I'd so love to get a list of John's deer proof plants! I've a herd of 12 deer who have proven they DO eat Bougainvillea, Mexican Primrose and several other plants that the internet assert they won't go for. Thanks John and houzz for sharing this inspiring place!

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Dai Valmana
So beautiful love it
   
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twalker Humble
I love this garden. How nice it must be to sit outside and connect with nature.
   
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craigayliffe

Gorgeous. Just gorgeous. Thanks, John and Houzz. Really inspirational.

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breeze657
This garden is unforgettable. It makes me long for California and a trip up the coast. What a blessing in your life! What Beautiful things you’ve coaxed into existence there! Thank you so much for allowing us a glimpse inside your sanctuary. It’s Magic.
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nathanwoldow
I think it’s
   
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Aasia Kinney
Amazing! Me in a couple of years if there’s any land left.
Garden looks amazing and I can understand how peaceful just being in the yard touching the soil everyday.
   
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lindaerdmann
wow! love the story behind this magical garden
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ruthie5028

Wow! For someone so ill, that was a huge undertaking to just live on that property. But the gardens are beautiful, giving glorious vistas everywhere. Well done John, and happy to read you are doing well.


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robertaraasveld
Thank you for sharing your story. I also find peace everyday in my garden. I went another rout to learn about food and have created a sanctuary that feeds my family, friends, and neighbors. Learning to garden organically has been a challenge and inspiration!
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curlylu12
That's a wonderful video! It was so inspiring and uplifting! I wish my yard looked like that! Wishing him many more healthy living in this haven!
   
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Mei Lin Yeoell

There is something magical about creating a garden/creature friendly space and then watching birds and other wild things move in and get comfortable. If you are lucky, you recognize individuals who return each year, and then mourn their failure to return, only to experience the arrival and return of new individuals... a microcosm of the planet, to be nurtured while the rest of it falls apart.

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Thomas Chyggundu
a story with depth and soul soothing.
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Les G.Jr
absolutely beautiful!!!
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Christine Martel

Such a calming garden. Fantastic, thank you for sharing this with us.

   
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James Long
Enjoyed Your Video So Much! Thanks for sharing!
   
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khoinguyen97
I’ve saved the clip on my pinterest board “Inspiring in Life”. The garden was so beautiful, and John’s story too. I loved the scene with the horses, beautiful, strong, and free. Everything was just like in my dream.
   
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Shadi Modibane

Beauty at its best, in and outwardly refreshing!!!Brought tears of joy..

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tracydo
Thanks for sharing your story John! I left the East coast after I married and always wanted to move back. With family it's super hard to have everyone agree to, now seems like, a new idea after over 20 years. I'm glad to see your garden!
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lorenzd

This is just amazing. I watched the video several times and saw different things each time. So well done. It gave me chills. What an inspiration this is for what John has done. His past experience in architecture has certainly spilled over into his ability to work with nature to make this property so beautiful. I'm sure it is even more incredible to see it in person. It makes me want to do more at my own home. I have a cabin in the woods that needs more of my time and this has inspired me!

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Todd Morris

WOW!! TRULY BREATHTAKING...THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS:)

   
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Stephanie Rountree

Beautiful and inspirational! Thank you for sharing. Yes, "be here now" is my mantra as well.

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kkelley11

If only the whole world could be touched by the restorative power of nature!


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Andrea Pellicani

Good to hear a healing story, I teared up when John talked about the garden mending him. Sounded like a spiritual journey .




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waltshar

Just watching the video brought me to the "now and peace!"

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BHHS Drysdale Properties

I love this story. The garden is beautiful, and gardening I've found very healing and satisfying.

   
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shulinak

Breathtaking. Relaxing and invigorating just to watch the well-made video.

Thank you for sharing.

   
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Deborah Sorg

WOW!

   
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mlloyd

John, how amazing! I know what you mean about the soil healing your soul. I want to visit your garden and sit in that heather planting and smell the ocean. It's just beautiful. This world moves too fast - your garden shows how beautiful life is when we slow down. Simply stunning.

   
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LADYBUG DESIGNS

What an inspiring, magical environment...just the existence to enjoy in retirement!

   
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Pat Lauffer
I adored the video and your life story John! I must come to the North Coast at least once a year for the serenity and peace and cool weather, as I lived in nearby Willits until coming to Chico for college 50 years ago! I tried to create a redwood forest here, but after 30 years, they were 95' tall and the tops were now coming down on our house, so 20 months ago I spent $8,000 to remove them and have been gardening every day since to have a dappled shade garden! I am so grateful I can! Next is my lantern greenhouse!
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wendyjeske
I learned so much from you and your garden John. Please come and see mine if you’re ever in Tsawwassen BC.
Wendy Jeske
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rosenlnk1

Beautiful, beautiful garden....truly a nature sanctuary....for all.....Thank you for sharing this with us....

   
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plsmales
This article proves that there is nothing like the healing power of nature.
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bizeebees

Love this story, this is how my garden evolved as well, I am a nurse in Trauma and over the last few years worked at nursery, gardening has been very therapeutic, its smaller, with different spaces with different purposes, its constantly evolving and changing, I can let go of expectations, control, and impossible battle with perfectionism, and have learned to celebrate whatever stage the garden is in. Thanks for the continued inspiration, I love Houzz!!!

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J. Montgomery Designs

This story really touched us... trusting your own ability to create life in the form of a garden is the greatest experience. And the gardens just keep giving back... it humbles us, the grandeur. Beautiful work, John.

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pj2414
What an inspirational story! I love gardening, I have a beautiful back yard, with a stream running through it. Working in the soil is therapeutic.
My husband died 6 months ago today. He used to sit on the patio & listen to the water & watch the birds & squirrels, for hours. I love my yard, but it makes me more sad now, than happy.
Might need to start a new project. Loved the article, thank you.
Pam D.
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suegas

John you have created a magnificent and healing sanctuary, How wonderful that you followed your instincts 20 years ago to enjoy nature for what you thought was a short time. The beauty and peace this garden provides will continue to enrich your life for many years to come. Spectacular! Bravo!

   
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katedennis

I love your story, John Calhoun, it brought happy tears to my eyes.

   
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kimmreid
John, sharing your journey has been inspirational for many, including myself. In nurturing the earth and it's gifts, tending to, and encouraging new growth and plant life, Life itself has repaid you with peace, prolonged health and physical and emotional wellbeing. It's no mistake that you have been generously repaid with abundance in plant and animal life. Life supports and breeds more life. Many blessings.
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misselllie

Completely Beautiful! Thank you!

   
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faxxes

John, your garden is breathtaking! So lovely.....charming with a modern feel as well. Here in PA there is not the variety of plants or the ocean to hear. I'm struggling with health as well so I understand the desire for that kind of peace. All the best to you and your garden of loving work.

   
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lynnsey

As previous comments have highlighted, both John and his gorgeous property have provided me with such beautiful inspiration this morning. But there is a third element, stemming from this wonderful story, that is equally inspiring. It is the community of beautiful people, coming together, who have taken the time and given thoughtful consideration in sharing uplifting, complimentary, reverent, and supportive comments that gives me hope and comfort in times when the loudest voices out there seem to be spewing judgement, division, and bigotry. So John, bless you for finding your own path of peace, for creating and tending your beautiful garden that will continue to heal many for years to come, and for sharing your story that has inspired the gathering of a community of people focused and rooted in love and coming together, as opposed to division and hatred. A beautiful people garden! Long may your hands and heart tend both gardens. And THANK YOU.

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nicnads
This is my dream! Such an inspiring story ❤️ it
   
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kingjeanpeg

very inspiring an inspiration.

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morgan5d

Absolutely beautiful - what an inspiration you and your garden truly are.

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Shadi B
Amazing story... inspirational
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ald4sale

Beautiful!!

   
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cguidotti

a true paradise...beautiful!


   
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Yany

I am definitely saving this video. I just don't get tired of watching it over and over. I even showed it to my two daughters (ages seven and eight) and they asked me if we could go there. They watched the whole thing, they normally wouldn't. Such beautiful person with a beautiful soul, such magnificent garden. I am a truly believer that nature can heal us human beings. We have become so disconnected from nature these days, it's actually sad. I always try to teach my children about earthing, about nature, about gardening, etc. I truly hope that at least something stays with them when they grow up. Thank you John for sharing your story!!! You are a great man!

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Sabrina Balsky Interior Design

Wow magnificent thanks for sharing

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loanlady

I live in Northern California but it is 100 degrees here 3-4 months in summer.. hard to grow anything..

   
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Andrea Pellicani

I lived there for many years, native plants do well especially if planted in winter.

   
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elisabetefm

John. Congratulations for
your attitude and hard work in this beautiful garden. Live goes on, so let’s be happy.

Bete from São Paulo - Brazil

   
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artdreamer

Dear John, Congratulation and thank you very much, that we have got the possiblility to look this video. It is so wonderfull, beautifull and mistic. Your place is like a diary, when I 'm walking though in my minds, it is touching my soul... wish you the best...with best regards from Switzerland

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cmaria_barreto
You made me cry. Very beautiful!
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aniam55
I keep coming back to this video. Thank the ou for sharing your beautiful garden.
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Rafael F. Bermejo

Truly inspiring and beautiful.

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Dixie L.Wong-Broker

Thank you! Inspiring!

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leemwihaki

Beautiful in all forms. Nature needs people like you. Thanks for sharing

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Airiane Dorothy Doschner

This is amazing! I can't believe he's the one who cultivated the plants. It really looks so refreshing and peaceful!

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movingonandup773

I wish I had half of his talent. That is so beautiful. I would love to know how much effort he has to put in daily/weekly to keep all the plants alive and if he gets help to keep them alive. It looks like that would take a team, but it's just gorgeous! And, I bet nature has really helped him with his health issues in so many ways.

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movingonandup773

The areas that are in this video from 5:10 to 5:16 are amazing! So beautiful!

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D C

".....slow down, appreciate the moment and just be in the now..." something only nature can truly do. Fabulous.....

   
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tamyko graham
I did not want this video to end. It relaxed me so much. He has a sanctuary that I am green with envy wanting the same. Thank you for sharing the beauty with us.