Sonoma Field Trip

On April 20, 46 Cal Hort members loaded onto a bus to visit

A Springtime Medley of Private Gardens
In Marin, Napa & Sonoma Counties
Especially planned for the California Horticultural Society

Our day began in Greenbrae with a visit to the garden of a great plantsman Dr. Herb Weber. To quote him, “Representing a lifetime of horticultural experimentation by a would-be artist, trained only in the science of medicine, my garden is offered as the result of my attempts to create beauty in this sometimes harsh world. A hillside lot in Greenbrae, close to an acre in size, serves as my palette. An eclectic group of plants chosen only because they captured my imagination in terms of form, texture, color or the joy they provide me, serve as my materials. Included are rare palms, cycads, rhododendrons, cymbidiums, ground covers, wild ginger, Stewartias, to name just a few.”

Our next stop was a visit to Quarryhill Botanical Garden which is dedicated to the conservation, study, and cultivation of the temperate flora of Asia. Bill McNamara, Director, provided us with a comprehensive tour. The Botanical Garden includes sixty-one acres of rolling hills above the pastoral vineyards of Sonoma Valley. It houses one of the largest collections of scientifically documented wild source Asian Plants in North America with well over 10,000 plants, representing more than 300 genera and more than 1600 species. Almost all of the plants have been grown from seeds collected on scientific expeditions. Since 1987, Quarryhill has participated in annual joint expeditions to China, Japan, India, and Nepal with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Howick Arboretum.

The afternoon brought us to the private five acre Tiffany garden nestled in the Santa Rosa foothills with a view over neighboring vineyards to a small lake and Rincon Valley beyond. The original arts and crafts home, sheltered by large oaks, dates from 1915, and a mini “banana belt” supports an 80 year old orchard. Native rock has been used extensively to terrace the sloping terrain and to landscape the swimming pool, kitchen garden, and remodeled barn. The garden showcases roses from vintage varieties to modern shrubs, climbers. And a great many of the new “English” roses combined with flowering shrubs, perennials, bulbs, grasses, and annuals in an informal and rustic style. Eclectic and personal, this very California garden keeps growing to accommodate the owner’s passionate interest in new color combinations, old-fashioned and off-beat plants—in short everything that grows!

The grand finale of the day was a visit to Emerisa Gardens where owner and long-time supporter of Cal Hort, Muchtar Salzmann invited us for a guided tour of the demonstration gardens, wholesale and retail nurseries which cover an area of 20 acres. It was astounding to see just fields and fields of wonderplants all grown to perfection. The retail section was the favorite section of many as the belly of our tour bus overflowed with plants destined for new homes.

Much thanks goes to Barbara and John Hopper for organizing such an exquisite and flawless trip!

Here is a pictorial of the fun that was had and of just a few of the many exciting plants seen.