What the Childress’s created, though, is far more than Clyde's tropical jungle. In just under a decade, they have created Pikake Gardens, a private botanical garden that covers seven and a half acres. Pikake actually is a collection of themed gardens, each created by Clyde and Connie in collaboration with Vista garden designer Bryan Morse.
Areas now include a Tropical Fruit Garden, Formal Rose Garden, Desert, Protea, English, Pan-Asian and Mediterranean Gardens, plus a forest walk and even a Prayer Garden.
"Bryan is one of the most talented people we have ever found," says Clyde Childress. "He is an artist and a contractor. He made our dream a reality."
With Morse taking on technical and design duties, the park began to take form. Rather than creating a master plan, Morse worked from garden to garden, creating an initial set of drawings and then working with the Childress’s to refine the plan. Over time, Connie and Clyde became clearer in their vision, telling Morse what they wanted. From that point, they all would go out into the garden with cans of orange contractor's paint and mark out each garden area.
The tropical garden, which Clyde calls The Rain Forest, came first. It was an iterative process of laying out paths, which resulted in a series of winding trails with each turn leading to a new "feast for the eyes," as Clyde likes to say.
The jungle trails lead past a series of shallow lagoons and tall waterfalls fed by one of two deep wells that supply the gardens. Water flows over the tops of enormous boulders that look as if they have been on site for eons. In truth, Morse fabricated the boulders using the same method used to create rock features in amusement parks.
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