Return to Garden Conservancy Open Days

   It's been a very long time since private gardens have been open for touring here in Northern California. In late June, the Garden Conservancy had Open Days in Marin County-gardens I had visited in 2016 and well worth a return visit. Tickets had to be purchased in advance and visitor numbers were limited -not a bad thing since GC Open Gardens can be crowded. I took the scenic route through Point Reyes National Seashore which added another dimension to the day. 

 I only visited two of the three gardens open that day , the first being the Stinson Beach garden of a retired professor of medicine. This mature garden was ahead of it's time when it was created in the early 1990's . Many of the plants seen here were not in common use in Northern California at that time and we can be thankful for garden pioneers who took the chance to acquire rare but climate appropriate plants and nurseries like Western Hills that provided them.

 The garden is on a steep rocky parcel at the base of Mt Tamalpias with a view of Bolinas Bay. The integrity of the environment was obviously heeded throughout the creation of this landscape.

Up we go, with vignettes unfolding all along the hillside.

 Paths wind up the hill complete with rope handrails and the reward is the view down to the residence and the bay.

 Some of the plants were carefully labeled , but this small tree was not.

 The landscape included plenty of basic landscape shrubs that you might see anywhere in Northern California, but the placement was clearly very intentional .


 There were several Epiphyllums in bloom along the way, and I especially appreciated seeing this one planted in this old school redwood hanging basket that used to be commonly found at virtually any garden center in California. In this coastal frost-free environment these plants can live outdoors year round .


This intriguing plant was labeled  Metrosideros kermadecensis, a Myrtle relative which hails from New Zealand.

A good sized Koi pond was situated just off on of the rear decks of the house where one could choose between observing the Koi or enjoying the ocean view-which unfortunately was barely visible through the fog below on this morning. 

 Stay tuned for a separate post on the Bolinas garden of  artist Sally Robertson.


  1. That "small tree" looks a lot like Coreopsis gigantea! In a setting like that, even familiar plants appear extraordinary. And I'm with you on the old-school redwood boxes for hanging plants -- I found. a bunch cheap at a San Diego nursery a couple years back. Mossed up, plants love 'em!

    1. Coreopsis gigantea it must be -definitely fits the bill. I'd definately snatch up a couple of those redwood baskets if I came across them. The company that made them got gobbled up by another nursey wholesaler and then faded away. I but some of those touristy gift shops along 101 up in Humboldt might have something similar.

  2. Yes that's what I thought too, Coreopsis gigantea. What a treat, a marvelous garden photographed by kayess. The best combination possible.

    Must be heaven to garden there--cool fog much of the summer--ahhhhh!

    As always, San Marcos provides valuable commentary, in this case on Metrosideros kermadecensis. M. excelsa and M. 'Springfire'; have been excellent here.

    1. Aww, thanks Hoov. I tell you what, I'd move out there to the coast in a hot minute if I had an extra couple mil floating around. I might get tired of the gloom, but I'd trade it for a climate where 80 is a horrible heat wave. San Marcos is exactly where I went to look up the Metrosideros- I never see them in my area.

  3. What a spectacular setting and garden! There's nothing better for staging succulents than masses of rock, and they so often thrive there too. I'm glad Denise and HB were able to identify the small tree as it's very intriguing

    1. So true Kris. I wonder if the site was chosen on purpose ?

  4. Thanks for taking us along, beautiful photos.

  5. So many great colors and textures. Thanks for sharing!

  6. What a spectacular garden and so many beautiful photos. The way the plants are growing amongst the rocks highlights the beautiful structural qualities of each. Oh to have such rock outcroppings. The owner was definitely ahead of his time and hopefully others are noticing how well the garden has adapted to the varying climate.


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