A Sunday in the homes and gardens of Genoa

The sound of Dianna Borges greeting visitors on the streets of Genoa with her clear rendition of the classic song "How the West Was Won" was new to the Home and Garden show last Sunday. Borges, driving her six-passenger surrey, guided her blond Belgian draft horse "Chance" up one street and down another, chauffeuring tour guests from one destination to another, all the while singing to and chatting with every passer-by, leaving everyone she greeted with a smile on their face.

Over 40 years ago, her father-in-law, Sam Borges started a sleigh and wagon ride business in South Lake Tahoe offering tourists a peaceful change of venue from the hustle and bustle of casinos. Fifteen years ago, Sam turned over the reigns of the business to his son Dwight and daughter-in-law Dianna.

The Borges family, residents of Carson Valley, have decided to extend their business to the Valley with carriage rides in Genoa during the summer and a riding stable to open at the Van Sickle Station.

"Martha (Williams), who is a very kind and generous lady, offered to let me try out the rides this weekend," Borges said. "I wanted to let the community see how I work and that there are no problems with the horse. If all goes well at the next town board meeting, I should be offering rides in a couple of weeks," she said.

Chance plodded along, seemingly without a care in the world. Weighing in at almost a ton, the big 20-year-old Belgian was unflappable by all the cars and commotion going on around him.

"He thinks he's a lap dog," Borges said of her gentle giant.

Among the many stops on the home and garden tour, the back yard garden patio of the Tahoe Ridge Winery was very peaceful and enjoyable. Owned by Rick and Kathy Halbardier, they offered a tasting of petite syrah and a fine merlot tapped straight from the oak barrels and served by Jose Alaczar.

The list of events provided an interesting perspective of history as well as the beauty and elegance of some of the homes and gardens in the Valley in the Genoa community. A tour of the cemetery was accompanied by a map with a brief explanation of some of the early pioneers including Snowshoe Thompson.

The Pratt House is on the National Register of Historic Places and for a short time housed the Carson Valley News. It is now a quaint bed and breakfast. Suzanne Corbin gave a demonstration of flower arranging during the day. Then it was on to the Genoa Community Church on Nixon Street. The original church was located near the Genoa Court House and burned in a 1910 fire that devastated most of the town. Shortly after the fire the existing church was built by the Giardelli brothers, Walt Young and other town residents. Other points of interest included the hanging tree where Mr. Uber, accused of being a horse thief, left an indelible mark on Carson Valley history by being the only hanging in the Carson Valley in 1898.

Gilles Menagerie was next on the tour where guests could wander delightful gardens and enjoy an animal menagerie right next to an 1890 bunkhouse that was said to be used for Pony Express riders as a waystation.

The Brown/Blackburn Home, although by no means old or historical, is a work of art in its elegance and grace. This home features hand-painted murals by Russel Blackburn and an unsurpassed English baroque garden, complete with arbor while Ron Brown gave a talk on different breeds of orchids, their care and how to grow them.

The Dake House built in 1872 offered several events during the day including talks by garden expert, Dave Ruff from Greenhouse Garden Center in Carson City and Dan McClure of Nevada's Own Nursery. Complimentary Genoa Carson Valley books compiled by the late Nancy Miluck were given, first-come first-served, to the visitors who attended the lectures.

The famous 140-year-old oriental poppies were an explosion of vibrant orange and black surrounding the gothic Victorian that was once home to C.W. Dake who was Genoa's undertaker and justice of the peace.

The Della Vedova House was last on the list of tour destinations. The home started as a log cabin built on the river and evolved into the two-story home it is today.

Martha Williams, the planner of the Home and Garden Tour, said she thanks all the property owners for allowing everyone to view their property up close as well as everyone who purchased a ticket for the event to support the Carson Valley Pops Orchestra.


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