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..




17 comments:

  1. Even without sun it still looks fabulous. A garden to aspire to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very simple too in a way -I will enjoy visiting again in spring.

      Delete
  2. THANK YOU for this post. After the Pacific Horticulture Summit, I had been wondering what Cornerstone looked like at this time of year. I almost stopped on my way home, but I knew I wouldn't have enough time. I've got to make the trip soon.

    Awesome photos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I go on Sunday morning and plan to be there when they open it only takes about 20 minutes. I'm interested to see what Sunset does for a winter garden so I may go back in January-never have visited in winter .

      Delete
  3. I wonder if Sunset lost its way because the lifestyle it reflected, illustrated, encouraged, has for most, vanished. The "gardens are for people" of Thomas Church, the midwestern WWII vets come to a winterless paradise, replaced by the shopping mall and the two career family and cellphone-enabled 24-hour workday. The family road trip through a glorious California of scenic highways is now a traffic-choked slog to all-you-can-eat Las Vegas or Reno discount weekend for wealth transfer to the ever-wealthier casino mogul.

    But that is my wondering. Your photos have all the beauty they should. Interesting to see how things have grown at Cornerstone, and that the place has survived.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I expect that is a factor Hoov. And like most lifestyle or 'shelter' magazines , the ideas depicted are out of price range for middle class home owners-if they can even afford a home in the first place. Very slim garden content too, heavy on hardscape. However, still great recipes ! I too am surprised that it has survived , but it is on a major tourist artery and I have to say when I left the parking lot was full , and cars were in the adjacent overflow lot as well.

      Delete
  4. This post provided far better coverage of Cornerstone than I've seen before, either on TV or on-line. Now, I REALLY want to visit! You captured so many interesting vignettes. I'm also impressed by how vigorous (if occasionally unruly) the plants look. I think I need to plant another 20 African Blue Basils!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Kris, this climate zone,though very close to where I live, is bordering on frost free. I will be interested to see what happens to the wall of peppermint scented geraniums this winter--mine dies back to the ground, and I always take cuttings in case it dies altogether. So this site is full unobstructed sun, but moderated by coastal fog and it's proximity to the bay.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for this, I've been wondering how Sunset meshed in with the existing gardens. Glad to see a few of my favs are still there, even if they're in need of a refresh.

    ReplyDelete
  7. So much eye candy. Just the thing for a cold wet PNW morning! Thanks for this visual treat! What is happening with the Menlo park property with it's cool gardens?

    ReplyDelete
  8. There are some great plant pairings and vignettes in your photos. Thanks for sharing them!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great pictures. I also really like the John Greenlees garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Any Greenlee garden is ok by me .

      Delete
  10. Oh, this looks very promising. Can't wait for them to have plant fairs and maybe even another Late Show ;)

    thanks so much for the update, Kathy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh for another Late Show ! I think the folks involved with that have all gone off to other things.

      Delete
  11. Oh how I wish I were close enough to visit Cornerstone! Your pics are great, and your words too. I really want to visit. One day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You could do a loop --Cornerstone, Digging Dog, Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden and a visit to UC Berkeley Botanical Garden.

      Delete