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COVID reopens: ‘The Bulb Guy’ opens San Jose garden after fierce battle with virus

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SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – The San Jose man, affectionately known as “The Bulb Guy,” opened his yard to the public after the pandemic forced him to close his garden doors last year.

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But Richard Santoro returns with a “flower” after thinking he might never come back to his garden.

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At the end of December, Santoro and two of his wife’s siblings were infected with COVID-19. They did not survive and Santoro spent nine days in the hospital before recovering and being released.

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“Oh yeah, I was they call it an oxygen point, I guess, far from intubated,” Santoro said. “But I lived a pretty full life so I was, how do you put that, I was ready.”

Santoro’s late sister-in-law, Carmen Felisilda, was the one who introduced him to bulb planting almost four decades ago.

Richard Santoro aka “The Bulb Guy” in his San Jose garden. (UKTN)

This year he dedicated part of his garden to Felisilda.

“I thank him for continuing to do this because there is a huge piece of Carmen here, I mean really big, I can’t say it enough,” Santoro said.

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The work of love began 35 years ago when Santoro started with 50 bulbs. He opened his yard to the public 13 years ago. This year, Santoro said it had hand-planted 28,300 bulbs.

But flowers are more than his passion.

Santoro and his wife run the garden in honor of their son, Richard “Boom” Jr., who died of cancer in 1982.

Several years ago, they started collecting donations during the nine-day event. The couple then donate all proceeds to St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Boom’s memory.

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“Our son died of neuroblastoma,” he said. “Having been parents who have been through this, the last thing you want to worry about is money. I mean it’s the last thing you want to worry about.

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“The Bulb Guy” will open its garden daily until Saturday April 3 from noon to 5 pm at 850 Gateview Court in San Jose.

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