It’s pretty obvious and transparent from ongoing weekly postings that I have a passion for natural beauty, gardens, changing seasons and interest to showcase regional flowers and colorful blossoms through media and photography. Intuitively, I find myself looking for balance in my surroundings, allocating time each day to uncover ordinary and extra special photo-ops outdoors. Most of my international and domestic travel itineraries include garden visits and I always reserve time to appreciate the eclectic garden varietals and seasonal highlights wherever I go. Archiving my journey, storytelling and sharing my personal Zen moments and connections with my surroundings is rewarding and visually satisfying. Surprisingly, I often strike up random ‘green’ conversations with others in my community, even strangers passing by who catch me snapping up, capturing digital moments every spring, summer and autumn. Actively participating with nature helps me to center my energy and overcome the barriers that I find myself navigating around each day.
While the mid west and east coast regions in the US continue to battle winter elements, snow blizzards and freezing temperatures, California Spring season starts much earlier and Sonoma County provides many options and venues to enjoy the annual blossom trail. Garden tours, specialty nurseries and wineries develop amazing landscape destinations for visitors and I’ve compiled a short list of recommendations in the resources section below.
One of my favorite local settings and ‘secret gardens’ is tucked away in Sebastopol. The Sonoma Horticultural Nursery is located about 60 miles north of San Francisco, near Hwy 101 and Gravenstein (Hwy 116). This nursery includes 8 acres of demonstration gardens full of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, magnolias, clematis, shade-loving trees, shrubs and perennials. A sense of amazement overtakes me each time I see multiple towering canopies of blooming rhododendron trees complimented by wooded forests and lush green foliage. An organized jungle oasis of calm serenity. The Alleé walkways, pond reflections, creek, redwood groves, bridges, maple trees and pathways are lovely and add to the combined garden bliss! The regional climate and location offers three optimum peak rhododendron and azalea blooming cycles; Early 3/15, Mid 4/15 & Late 5/15 producing a sanctuary of field grown bushes and trees with pink, red, white, yellow and purple flowers around every corner. This week the 25+ foot bright red Arboreum 17 S.A rhodendrons are in full bloom! If you are in the area, drop by and enjoy the nursery and garden and who knows, maybe your inner gardener and ‘green thumb’ might get inspired this season.
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Sonoma Horticultural Nursery
- w: http://www.sonomahort.com
- f: http://www.facebook.com/sonomahort
- t: http://www.twitter.com/sonomahort
- p: http://www.pinterest.com/sonomahort
*Originally published in the Rhododendron Species Foundation yearbook, Rhododendron Species, Vol. 9, 2014. Individuals interested in the genus Rhododendron are strongly recommended to join the Rhododendron Species Foundation/Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden. http://rhodygarden.org
Publication: RSF Yearbook 2014 Vol 9 : http://rhodygarden.org/cms/shop/online-store/yearbook-2014-vol-9/
2014 North Bay / Bay Area Garden & Spring Blossom Trails, connecting with nature and visiting display gardens.
Sonoma Horticultural Nursery & Garden – 3970 Azalea Avenue, Sebastopol CA, http://www.sonomahort.com
* 8 acres of demonstration gardens, wooded forest, pond, walkways, picnic benches showcasing 650+ field grown Rhododendron hybrids & species, 500 Azalea hybrids, camellias, magnolias, clematis, shade-loving trees, shrubs and perennials (Feb-Aug).
Garden Valley Ranch Nursery – 498 Pepper Rd. Petaluma CA http://www.gardenvalley.com/nursery.html
* 400+ Rose varieties ~ English, Hybrid Tea and special Sprayfields, Pond Garden, hydrangeas, woodland perennials, fragrance garden.
McEvoy Ranch – 5935 Red Hill Rd., Petaluma, CA http://mcevoyranch.com
* 550 acre olive orchards and certified organic gardens. Flowers and Fashion. one of the largest U.S. producers of estate-grown olives, the annual Orchard and Garden Walk held (Apr-Oct)
Luther Burbank Home & Garden – 204 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa, CA http://lutherburbank.org
* Famed horticulturist, Greenhouse +800 plant varieties, specialty gardens, Medicinal, Spineless cactus, Edible landscape and Wildlife habitat gardens. (Apr-Oct)
Quarryhill Botanical Gardens – 12841 Sonoma Hwy Glen Ellen, CA http://www.quarryhillbg.org/#sthash.xXfn421c.dpuf
* 25-acres botanical Asian woodland garden, flowering Asian trees & shrubs including rare magnolias, dogwoods, maples, birches. Beautiful ponds, waterfalls, and vistas of the Sonoma Valley.
Jack London Historic State Park – 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen, CA http://jacklondonpark.com/jack-london-park-map.html http://jparks.ca.gov
* 800 acres, Valley of the Moon State Historic Park, 3-mile trek up Sonoma Mountain trails, Jack’s Beauty Ranch, picnic sites, historic stone barns, the House of Happy Walls museum.
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park – 2605 Adobe Canyon Road, Kenwood CA http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=481
*2,700-acre park, 25 miles of trails, preserves the headwaters of Sonoma Creek. horseback rides
Cornerstone Sonoma – 23570 Highway 121, Sonoma, CA http://www.cornerstonesonoma.com/explore/projects/the-garden-of-visceral-serenity/
*Explore 20 cutting-edge gardens designed by noted landscape architects. (Mar-Dec)
Sonoma Plaza State Historic Park – 363 Third Street West, Sonoma , CA http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=479
*8-acre central plaza, historic buildings, Mission San Francisco de Solano and Lachryma Montis, General Vallejo’s garden & estate.
Kendall-Jackson Wine Center – 5007 Fulton Rd., Santa Rosa, CA http://kj.com
* 3 acre Eden. Edible Flowers. Stroll the culinary, sensory and edible flower gardens, Blooms of Bressingham flower palace.
Annadel State Park – 6201 Channel Dr, Santa Rosa CA http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=480
* 5,000-acre state park a few minutes east of Santa Rosa California oaks and brilliant displays of spring wildflowers.
Ferrari-Carano Winery – 8761 Dry Creek Rd., Healdsburg, CA http://ferrari-carano.com
* 5 acres of diverse gardens with more than 10,000 tulips and daffodils carpet of color. 2,000 species of trees and shrubs Italian/French parterre style of the master garden showcasing classic, geometric shapes. paths and foot bridges along a rippling stream, waterfalls.
Russian River Rose Company – 1685 Magnolia Dr, Healdsburg, CA http://www.russian-river-rose.com
* 650 different rare and specialty roses, Rose History Trail, Shade Garden, Rose Allee, Sweet Scent Seat, and Butterfly Garden.
Korbel Rose Garden & Champagne Cellars – 13250 River Rd., Guerneville, CA http://korbel.com
* 250 varieties of antique roses. hundreds of bulbs planted in the 1880s mini micro-climate gardens (Apr-Oct)
Kruse Rhododendron SNR State Natural Reserve – 25050 Coast Highway One Jenner, CA http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/448/files/SaltPointKruseWebBrochure2010.pdf
* Late April, beautiful pink blossoms appear throughout the redwood forest. Three miles of hiking trails lead visitors through this silent, pristine area.
Filoli Estate & Garden – 86 Canada Rd, Woodside, CA http://www.filoli.org
*16 acres of formal gardens, tulips, wisteria, camellias, rhodos, daffodils situated on 654 acres highlighting the 20th century country estate and Historic site protected by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Only 25 miles south of San Francisco off Hwy 280.
San Francisco Botanical Garden – 9th Ave at Lincoln Way Golden Gate Park, SF, CA http://www.sfbotanicalgarden.org/
*55 acres of both landscaped gardens and open spaces, showcasing over 8,000 different kinds of plants from around the world. walking tour of the magnolia collection.