‘The Bulb Guy’ opens the San Jose garden after a tough battle with viruses

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

But Richard Santoro comes back with a “blossom” after thinking that he might never make it into his garden again.

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.

“Oh yeah, I was, they call it an oxygen point, I guess off the intubation,” Santoro said. “But I’ve lived a pretty full life, so how should I put it, I was ready.”

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

a person standing in the grass: Richard Santoro aka

© Provided by CBS SF Bay Area
Richard Santoro aka

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

That year he dedicated part of his garden to Felisilda.

“My thanks go to her for continuing, because there is a huge piece of Carmen back here, I mean really big, I can’t say enough,” said Santoro.

The work of love began 35 years ago when Santoro started with 50 lightbulbs. He opened his backyard to the public 13 years ago. That year, Santoro said he hand-planted 28,300 bulbs.

But the flowers are more than just his passion.

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

A few years ago they started fundraising from the nine day event. The couple then donate all proceeds to St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Boom’s memory.

“Our son died from neuroblastoma,” he said. “As a parent who went through this, the last thing you want to worry about is money. I mean, this is the last thing you want to worry about. “

“The Bulb Guy” will open his garden every day through Saturday, April 3rd, from 12pm to 5pm at 850 Gateview Court in San Jose.

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