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It’s just a blooming shame the shelter-in-place lockdown denuded a special spring tradition in San Jose this year — the free tours of The Bulb Guy’s bounty of bulb-born blossoms, roughly 11,000 of them, in his quarter-acre San Jose home garden.

“The Bulb Guy” is actually Richard Santoro, a mild-mannered yet seriously silly cement salesman in daily life. But once in the garden, he becomes a deep-“seeded” petal pusher, planting tulips, daffodils, ranunculus, anemones, scalia, snow drops, irises, freesia “and some other stuff I can’t even spell or pronounce,” he says.

Richard Santoro started his bulb hobby in 1985 before offering free tours in 2010.

For the past decade, he’s been opening his garden to the public every year for a few days at the beginning of April, drawing hundreds of visitors. The event has been featured in local newspapers and TV reports galore.

This year, obviously, the public gatherings were not to be. But he still wanted to share the joy. So his sister made this lovely video, “The Bulb Guy’s Garden 2020 aka Richard Santoro,” set, aptly, to the tune of “Tiptoe Through The Tulips.” He hopes it’ll be a bright splash of color in your day. 

The garden started as a very small hobby in 1985, but — as gardens tend to do — it grew and grew and he started opening it up for tours in 2010. Then he decided to dedicate it to a good cause. While there is never an admission charge, Santoro encourages visitors to donate to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, in honor of his son, Boom, who died of cancer in 1982.

He’s also writing a book about it. 

“No one would see The Bulb Guy Garden in 2020, and that’s when I got inspired to write a book,” he said. “After all, it is a community garden as far as I am concerned.”

For more info on Santoro’s garden extravaganza, check out his website.