“They’re slug patrol,” said Teresa Sabankaya, the founder and former owner of Bonny Doon Garden Co., known for its flower kiosk on Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz.
“They can smell the slugs,” she added. “When they find them, it’s so funny. They start quacking and running in circles. It’s like the highlight of their life.”
For Sabankaya, it’s also a godsend. The ducks eat the slimy creatures that, until three or four years ago, habitually munched holes in the leaves of many of the 300-plus varieties of plants she keeps in her garden.
Sabankaya will open that garden to visitors next weekend as part of the annual Hidden Gardens of Bonny Doon tour.
Surrounded by towering redwood trees, the garden sits in front of a house built in 1938 that looks like a castle. It’s had three owners in its history, and now Nezih and Teresa Sabankaya live in the picturesque setting.
The couple has tended and expanded the organic and sustainable garden for the past 12 years. They now have eight raised beds and grow many varieties of herbs, flowers, trees and more.
Many of the flowers and herbs are cut and used in floral design. After selling Bonny Doon Garden Co. last year, Teresa Sabankaya started a floral and event design business for which she prepares flowers and opens the Sabankaya’s land for private parties and weddings.
In the time freed by the sale of the business, she also takes part in the annual De Young Museum Bouquets to Art event and participates with Santa Cruz glassmaker Annieglass in the Filoli Flower Show.
“It’s rewarding for me to be in that venue,” Sabankaya said. “People appreciating flowers and beauty is what it’s really all about.”
The Bonny Doon microclimate allows her to grow almost all the plants and flowers she needs for her new business, she said. “We can grow almost anything here.”
But business is only half the equation when it comes to her garden.
“It’s a refuge, a place where I can reflect on everything.”
For more information What: Hidden Gardens of Bonny Doon
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 21 and 22
Where: Starts at Bonny Doon Elementary School, 1492 Pine Flat Road, in Bonny Doon
Details: Eight unique private gardens will be opened to visitors to support Bonny Doon Elementary School.
Tickets: $20 at local garden centers, Beauregard Winery or the school
Info: 469-0688 or 423-7728