John Fellows, Owner
After graduating with a degree in design and craft media from California State University at Los Angeles, John created a quick career designing and constructing restaurants in Hawaii, California, Texas, Colorado and New Jersey, with private owners and for national architectural firms.
He spent the summer of 1970 at the south shore of Lake Tahoe and longed to return, which he did in 1973 to build a restaurant for friends–the original Donner House. His love for woodcarving and stone work blossomed fruitfully into work carving wood signs and building grand structures of logs and stone.
In 1975, John acquired a general contractor’s license. Many successful homes, restaurants and other businesses have benefited from his eye and his touch, both in interiors and exteriors. Beloved businesses on the South Shore, such as the Cork & More, Nephele, Tep’s and Ernie’s, reflect the care and artfulness that go into his work. Larger installations, such as the stone walls flanking Ski Run Blvd. at Highway 50 and the steel and stone moon and bear sculpture at the lake end of Ski Run are mountain points of interest that will be around for many generations of locals and visitors to enjoy.
But to the eyes of the man of imagination,
nature is imagination itself.
- William Blake
By the mid-eighties, John’s hobbies of landscaping and horticulture had stepped up a level, resulting in the creation of several award-winning landscapes and the acquisition of a landscape contractor’s license.
Studying high-altitude gardening and ecology, John’s next step was to make manifest the dream of park-like gardens and a nursery in this mountain environment. In 1987 he purchased field biologist Julie Etra’s complete stock of Tahoe native plants, and in 1992 found the perfect place for the nursery and garden on the scenic portion of Emerald Bay Road on the west end of town.
The nursery is where he took a large neglected lot on Highway 89, one that had been used as a shortcut from 15th Street to Emerald Bay Road, garnering trash and broken glass, and grafitti on its gutted block building, and transformed it into one of the most beautiful environments in the area. He started planting trees there in 1992 so they could create counterpoint to the mature Jeffrey pines and white firs already on the site, and put on some growth to create structure for the business that opened in the summer of 1995. The small block pumphouse received a new skin of andesite masonry and became the sales shed, while the old residence on the corner of the property was used for storage until it was razed in 2006. The trees have grown, others been planted, water features installed, and the nursery has become a place gardeners cherish and newcomers learn what a resource it is for gardening and landscaping in this high altitude mountain community.