SMART Train, aka SoCoMaCo Akamai rail

☆New Scenery Visual☆ Driving home yesterday afternoon from Terra Linda and the new SMART train zipped by the parallel tracks along 101 near the Novato narrows. ~ l@@king forward to the train service later this year.


SMART Train, aka SoCoMaCo Akamai rail is a voter-approved passenger rail and pathway project located in Marin & Sonoma counties. It will serve a 70-mile corridor from Larkspur to Cloverdale, with a first phase from San Rafael to Santa Rosa ~ transit service targeted for late 2016 launch date. The new train bridge in Petaluma is taking a lot of time and resources to finalize.


Petaluma Pete ~ Tourism ambassador video promo for the SMART train! Love the new views of the countryside.


Sonoma County Blossom Trail compilation – Spring 2014

Sonoma County Blossom Trail compilation – Spring 2014. Colorful and fragrant flower updates from Sonoma Horticultural Nursery, Sebastopol CA, Sonoma County. #SonomaHort flower details available on Facebook and Pinterest

Sonoma County Blossom Trail - Sonoma Horticultural Nursery, May 2014

Sonoma County Blossom Trail – Sonoma Horticultural Nursery, May 2014

Sonoma County Blossom Trail - Sonoma Horticultural Nursery, April 2014

Sonoma County Blossom Trail – Sonoma Horticultural Nursery, April 2014

Sonoma County Blossom Trail - Sonoma Horticultural Nursery, April 2014

Sonoma County Blossom Trail – Sonoma Horticultural Nursery, April 2014

Sonoma County Blossom Trail - Sonoma Horticultural Nursery, April 2014

Sonoma County Blossom Trail – Sonoma Horticultural Nursery, April 2014

Sonoma County Blossom Trail - Sonoma Horticultural Nursery, March 2014

Sonoma County Blossom Trail – Sonoma Horticultural Nursery, March 2014

Sonoma County Blossom Trail - Sonoma Horticultural Nursery, March 2014

Sonoma County Blossom Trail – Sonoma Horticultural Nursery, March 2014

Spring 2014 ~ Sonoma County ‘secret gardens’

Sonoma Horticultural Nursery Early Blooming Rhododendrons

Sonoma Horticultural Nursery Rhododendrons

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.

Sonoma Horticultural Nursery Arboreum 17 rhododendron

Sonoma Horticultural Nursery Arboreum 17 rhododendron

Sonoma Horticultural Nursery Pond

Sonoma Horticultural Nursery Pond

Stay connected via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and join in to share your own passion for horticulture, gardening, flowers and natural beauty.

Sonoma Horticultural Nursery

2014 RSF yearbook

RSF Yearbook 2014 Vol 9

2014 Article Excerpt: Full Circle, Sonoma Horticultural Nursery by Elaine Sedlack

*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.

Publication: RSF 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,
* 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
* 400+ Rose varieties ~ English, Hybrid Tea and special Sprayfields, Pond Garden, hydrangeas, woodland perennials, fragrance garden.

McEvoy Ranch – 5935 Red Hill Rd., Petaluma, CA
* 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
* 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
* 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
* 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
*2,700-acre park, 25 miles of trails, preserves the headwaters of Sonoma Creek. horseback rides

Cornerstone Sonoma – 23570 Highway 121, Sonoma, CA
*Explore 20 cutting-edge gardens designed by noted landscape architects. (Mar-Dec)

Sonoma Plaza  State Historic Park –  363 Third Street West, Sonoma , CA
*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
* 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
* 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
* 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
* 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
* 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
* 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
*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
*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.

SMART North Santa Rosa station

SMART North Santa Rosa

SMART North Santa Rosa

The North Santa Rosa SMART (Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit) station has generated a lot of fiscal concern and political controversy for several years. The original Jennings Park site proposal allocated 9.8 acres for this project and is located at the former Northern Pacific Railroad right-of-way in Santa Rosa. This potential depot site is extremely desirable because it would provide more parking spaces for regular commuters, is situated in a growing residential area and will be accessible to the Santa Rosa Junior College if future development plans materialize to add a bicycle pedestrian bridge over highway 101 nearby.  Unplanned additional construction costs and dwindling resources are weighing at the core of this placement issue and stalling both SMART and City Council representatives to ultimately commit to a final location. The second depot site south of Jennings at the Guerneville Road crossing could also be selected as the future option. The buildings and property adjacent to the crossing could be acquired and developed and the existing road crossing improvements were  previously completed which makes this option financially more attractive than the proposals for the Jennings crossing area. The downside of course at Guerneville Road is the limited parking. The ongoing  revitalization of Coddingtown mall area at Guerneville Road/Steele Lane includes 60 + new stores showcasing a new Whole Foods superstore. The ongoing impressive large scale renovation construction of the malls south wing has also given this outdated-aging shopping mall a fresh start and a promising commercial economic future.

Phase 1 rail line planning discussed and shared on the SMART homepage indicates that the new rail service will begin in Santa Rosa, most likely from this Northern location. The undecided rail stop would sequentially be #4 out of the total 14 planned beginning at Cloverdale -> Healdsburg -> Windsor -> then North Santa Rosa. I’m anxiously waiting to hear the outcome of this temporary snag and this location is key since it will support the interim turn around tracks for the North end of the rail line. I also noticed this week that one of the Guernevile Road rails at the construction area was marked SMART#4. If that is a subtle hint or clue of progress and new developments, maybe the decision has been made, unofficially!  ;o)

Santa Rosa – Jennings depot

Coddingtown mall

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) Phase 1 chart

Related articles:  Jennings / Guerneville Rd. crossing costs & issues

Tough to make a SMART decision at Jennings Avenue crossing
By KEVIN McCALLUM – THE PRESS DEMOCRAT Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Santa Rosa OKs $200,000 study of rail underpass
By KEVIN McCALLUM- THE PRESS DEMOCRAT Published: Tuesday, August 14,2012

Santa Rosa to consider Jennings Avenue undercrossing
By KEVIN McCALLUM – THE PRESS DEMOCRAT Published: Monday, August 13, 2012

SMART committee selects Guerneville Road site for train station
By BOB NORBERG – THE PRESS DEMOCRAT Published: Wednesday, June 2, 2010

SMART station planning
White paper  No 12 May 2008

SMART in Santa Rosa ~ Old Railroad Square

SMART - Old Railroad Square, Santa Rosa

SMART – Old Railroad Square, Santa Rosa

I was in Santa Rosa this afternoon and stopped by Fourth Street & Old Railroad Square to investigate the SMART (Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit) progress downtown. I was pleasantly surprised to see noticeable activity and movement on rail construction. Heavy machinery, safety fences and plans for a new platform for travelers are in the works. The existing historic depot building also serves as a California Welcome Center and provides an abundance of tourist resources, guidebooks, maps, a gift shop and even a small railroad museum! (very small). The staff inside indicated that the second Santa Rosa SMART stop will be in Coddingtown. Is it a coincidence that the two Santa Rosa rail stations are being located near the two largest shopping malls? Hmmm.

I usually post photos on Facebook of the various Charles Schultz character statues scattered around Sonoma County as I spot them. The placement of the statues began 8 years ago. Starting in 2005- Charlie Brown, 2006-Woodstock, 2007-Snoopy and finally in 2008-Lucy. Hard to keep track of all of them, and I’ve seen about 40 over the years. The bronze statues of Charlie Brown and Snoopy are proudly displayed in the front garden area at Old Railroad Square. The Charles Schultz museum, ice arena and gift shop are located off of West Steel Lane near Coddingtown Mall. If you haven’t already visited the Schultz art museum and comic collection, it’s a great way to spend the afternoon with family, friends or by yourself.

SMART (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit)

Railroad Square Santa Rosa, CA

California Welcome Center in Santa Rosa. CA

Charles M. Schulz Museum, Santa Rosa CA