Eric Teberg was taking his good friend, Joan Collins, to the doctor in Sacramento when he received the good news.
“I pulled over and Jacquie (Williams-Courtright of Livermore’s Alden Nursery) said we swept the awards; we won everything!” said an excited Teberg, recalling the moment when he received the phone call and learned that he won all the major awards in landscape design at the 100th annual Alameda County Fair.
The award-winning landscape designer and consultant and his team won Best of Show, the John Pleich Award, the Director’s Choice, and the Fair Managers’ Special Award. On top of that, they won 15 other awards in other categories which included best use of color, best grouping of trees – “the list goes on and on,” said Teberg whose work has been featured in the pages of Sunset Magazine.
The awards were actually the crowning glory of a collaborative effort that was made up of Teberg, Williams-Courtright who is the owner of Alden Nursery in Livermore, and landscape contractor Dave Norlin who owns Vineyard Landscape, also located in Livermore. Teberg designed the landscape installed everything with the help of a couple of guys from Vineyard Landscape. Williams-Courtright made all the arrangements to get all the plant materials together from the nursery. Vineyard Landscape provided the labor especially in the heavy lifting of the 15-gallon trees. Anything that was less than 15 gallons, Teberg moved them all by himself. These included 225 foxgloves in gallon cans plus some plants that he borrowed from a planter in front of his home in the Magna Terra area of Manteca.
The roughly three-week Alameda County Fair was held from June 20 to July 8. However, they had to finish the project by Monday, June 18, by 8 p.m. to have it ready for the judging prior to the official opening of the fair.
The area they had to work on was a 3,600-foot barren corner of the county fairgrounds. With hundreds of trees, plants, and rocks to orchestrate, plus installing a waterfall and a meandering stream and making it all look like a permanent structure rather than a temporary installation for fairgoers to gawk at or ooh and aah over for just a few days, the trio had to work hard and fast using all the brains and brawn they could muster.
They started working on Monday, June 4. As luck would have it, it rained that day. So they did not actually get started until Tuesday, June 5.
That scare was nothing, though, compared to what happened just before the judging. The pump that they installed to get the stream and waterfall working stopped! But all’s well that ends well. They overcame that frightful incident. The pump problem was fixed.
All their hard work was rewarded by the positive feedback and comments from fair visitors.
“A lot of people who were walking through didn’t even realize that the gardens were not permanent; they looked complete,” Teberg said.
“Everybody thought it was there full-time,” William-Courtright said of the “lovely meandering stream” feature of the gardens.
Visitors also didn’t realize that the gardens were sitting on six inches of dirt on top of asphalt.
“We loved the feedback from the community. It’s a wonderful thing,” said Williams-Courtright who added that these positive comments still keep coming in via e-mails to the nursery.
While it felt good to receive the cash prizes, which was a nice consolation for all the sweat equity and creative juices expended to create the gardens, it was the creative experience that meant a lot more, working with a landscape contractor who did all the heavy lifting, and working with a “great landscape designer,” Williams-Courtright pointed out.
“We really had a good time doing it,” she said.
The trio’s four major awards, in fact, constituted half of the total awards presented by the county fair that included all of the categories this year such as agriculture and horse racing.
“It was definitely a team effort that made it all happen,” Williams-Courtright said of their collective victory.
Teberg said he would love to team up again with Alden Nursery next year and years after that on the same type of project at the Alameda County Fair.
Williams-Courtright, whose parents founded Alden Nursery in 1955, was of the same mind.
“It was just pure pleasure working with him,” she said of Teberg, a graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he majored in horticulture and is now doing landscaping and consultation.
“He’s a creative genius, a great talent. He’s a real star.”
The two are no strangers. Before he went on to pursue his independent landscape design service in Manteca, Teberg worked for 20 years at Alden Nursery.