Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Sunday Morning at Cornerstone

 Cornerstone Sonoma is located on  busy highway 121, a well traveled back road that brings visitors into the wine country and connects Sonoma and Napa County . Cornerstone is a  unique venue, featuring upscale shops with an emphasis on outdoor living, restaurants, wine tasting, art installations, display gardens and event spaces. This year the iconic west coast publication Sunset Magazine moved its' outdoor test kitchen and display gardens to Cornerstone from their campus in Menlo park, a 7 acre site they have occupied since 1951. Though Sunsets' magazine  content has dwindled over the last several years, I still subscribe as I have since the 70's. I could do a whole post on Sunset and its decades long  influence on west coast gardeners .

 Several of the gardens at Cornerstone were removed to make way for both the Sunset test gardens, the large outdoor kitchen space and the event area which has enlarged significantly since the last time I was there. Some of the remaining gardens could use a refresh, and some open areas hinted at new gardens to come.

  John Greenlees' garden has always been one of my favorites, but the morning was overcast and the grasses were not in their magical back-lit mode.

 White Cloud by Andy Cao and Xavier Perot is another I enjoy. It's not  anything I would replicate in my garden, it is in fact an art installation, not a garden per se.. More sun is really needed to view this at it's best.

 The Van Sweden-Sheilah Brady 'Garden of Contrast ' has matured perhaps a bit too much. The Olive trees that were small and ornamental when the garden was newly installed have become large and dense -deep shade is not too far off. The Agaves have grown  and  are starting to overwhelm the space  and I can certainly speak to what happens with Rosemary-it is vigorous in our climate.

 The Raiche-McCrory Garden is a prime example of the Berkeley-East Bay garden style for which I hold unattractive envy. I would have given them twice the space, for this is  another garden that is being overcome by shade.

 The Sunset Gardens were well done, and hopefully set up to evolve. This photo looks from the Cocktail Garden (now we're talkin) into the Edible Garden with it's pavilion anchor. In the foreground is the most gigantic stand of African Blue Basil I have ever seen.

 The compost bin, with Bamboo Muhly (I have murdered this one twice) and Muhlenbergia capillaris.

 Not much chance I would ever have the space for something this cool in my garden .

 The gardens were themed by use--this is the flower test garden.

On the left, a wall of peppermint scented Pelargonium.

 This garden is the Gathering Space , and what great plant combinations are featured here ! I hope this is dynamic; subject to change and redesign.

The test kitchen event space 

Peeking into the wedding prep..

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Delectable Succulent Containers at Sonoma Mission Gardens Nursery

 I was driving somewhat aimlessly around Sonoma County in search of a fall vineyard  photo opp, and it was pretty clear that the light was bad and I should have gone out an hour or two earlier. We are  expecting  some weather next week, so I have hopes for next weekend . Nevertheless , it can be fun to motor around wine country back roads early Sunday morning before the tourist traffic commences, making note of potential photo spots for another day. By 9am  was within a couple of miles of Sonoma Mission Gardens , a nursery I had not visited in a couple of years- besides I was at the end of a one week vacation and the awful truth was I had not visited a single garden center or bought a single plant . My god, how could  this be ? What was I thinking ? And I had left home without my plant list. Never  under any circumstances leave home without your plant list, for a garden center could be stumbled upon at any moment.

 It had been so long since I'd visited this particular nursery, I had forgotten about the hanging basket and container arrangements  that they create. As you can see, they are a little pricey, but they are all in nice containers and jammed with plants of generous size.   

You even get a few extra containers in the red wagon-these both had sold signs.

 Another wheelbarrow -this time with some character rocks.

 Sonoma Mission Gardens is in the Valley of the Moon , at 851 Craig  Ave on the outskirts of Sonoma. Even though it's the end of October they have nice selection of plants, annuals perennials grasses and  a large assortment of ferns and shade plants  in a well maintained nursery .

Friday, October 21, 2016

12 Photos From PHS Summit

  Last weekend I attended the 2016 Pacific Horticultural Society Summit in neighboring Sonoma County. I've been a PHS member for many years , decades in fact, but have never attended the annual Summit. What was I waiting for ? Granted this years event was close to home , required only 1 hour of car travel and no lodging. The speakers were first rate , and I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite. Every one of them were passionate and knowledgeable  about their topics - I wish I'd taken more notes ! Exploring the PHS website will lead you to content relevant to the theme of the summit 'Changing Times, Changing Gardens' . Climate , drought and the appropriate regional plant palette is something many west coast gardeners are struggling to adjust to while still giving ourselves permission to push the zone envelope and plant what we love .
 Sunday was garden tour day and carpooling with Gerhard of Succulents and More,  3 gardens were visited  before the 4pm close time. Each of the three could clearly merit it's own post but I will instead offer a dozen photos divided between them . I will say that my images do not begin to convey the beauty and uniqueness of these gardens.

 I've longed to see  Roger Raiches'  garden for years , and it's inclusion on this tour tipped the scales for me , how could I not attend ? It might be my only chance. Visit the Planet Horticulture website for a taste of the gardens designed by Roger and partner David McCrory.

 Lots of spikey action, Cordylines ,Yuccas, Palms...

They packed 'em in. Clearly I am not taking advantage of all the space in my small garden.It's always enjoyable to see 'wow' gardens in a footprint similar to that of my own.

The Reid garden was an opposite; a large  property on a hillside where  the drift option is easily deployed. The layers of textures and colors were beautifully orchestrated .

 This photo demonstrates the sort of arrangement that was everywhere n this garden.. I loved how the lavenders pointed in towards the trees and shrubs, all positioned to show off their best attributes.

 Most fabulous Cussonia in Sonoma County. In the back ground a blooming dawn redwood (Metasequoia) not something you see every day.

 A focal point !

 I only have 2 photos to share from the last garden we visited , the garden of Josh Williams, the nursery manager at the venerable Cal Flora Nursery in Fulton. I can say I have never seen so many varieties of Manzanita in one place. This garden bends beautifully with the open space beyond the fence.

 The front garden.

Okay, so I'm going over 12, but had to include this beautiful focal point in Joshs' back garden.