Enjoy the spectacular spring flowers of Sonoma. Visit any of the Sonoma County’s state parks, for a brilliant display of colorful flowers rolling across the hills. Take time to smell the roses this season, and because some of these gardens are at some of Sonoma wineries, you can enjoy the bouquets of fine California wines at the same time.
You can spend an entire afternoon at the Kendall-Jackson Wine Center, exploring its two-and-a-half-acre Eden. Sip some wine and stroll the culinary gardens, the sensory garden showcasing plants with aromas found in wine, and the Blooms of Bressingham flower palace. Be sure to savor the edible flower collection, too – you may never look at those delicate blossoms the same way again, after you’ve realized how tasty they can be on the tongue.
Complimentary, self-guided Garden Tours are offered daily at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (weather permitting). Private garden tours and wine tastings are available for groups of 10 or more at $10-$20 per person.
5007 Fulton Rd., Santa Rosa, 707-571-7500, kj.com.
Ten Thousand Tulips
Ferrari-Carano Winery features five acres of diverse gardens that, in 1987, took founder Rhonda Carano 16 months just to plan and complete the initial planting. Each area has its own mood, starting with the Italian/French parterre style of the master garden showcasing classic, geometric shapes.
The enclosed garden at the front of the estate has a more relaxed park-like setting abundant with trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. You can spend hours leisurely strolling the meandering paths and foot bridges along a rippling stream, waterfalls and fish-filled ponds, discovering more than 2,000 species of trees and shrubs conveniently marked with identification tags.
Enjoy bronze sculptures from world-renowned artists, and don’t miss the full acre show garden with massive flower plantings in the fashion of Butchart Gardens in British Columbia.
For spring: More than 10,000 tulips and daffodils burst through the earth for a lavish carpet of color. There’s even a tulip hotline (707-433-5349), to track the best bloom times.
8761 Dry Creek Rd., Healdsburg, 707-431-1742, ferrari-carano.com.
A Rose by Any Other Name
Originally planted in the 1880s, the Korbel Rose Garden at Korbel Champagne Cellars explodes to life in the spring with the blooms of hundreds of bulbs, then continues into summer and fall with more than 250 varieties of antique roses.
Some 1,000 types of other flowers capture the senses, too, set in mini micro-climate gardens specially designed to celebrate different areas of the world. For a full day, you can grab a picnic lunch at the on-site deli.
The Garden Tour is offered daily at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, mid-April through mid-October.
13250 River Rd., Guerneville, 707-824-7316, korbel.com.
This Bud’s for You
Seeing the gardens may inspire your green thumb. It’s the May Day Plant Sale to the rescue, held May 6 at Luther Burbank Home & Gardens in Santa Rosa. Starting at 10 a.m., would-be florists can purchase plants propagated from the gardens or grown from seeds related to world-renowned Burbank creations.
Stock up on a variety of perennials and annuals, most in four-inch pots ranging from $2 to $9. You can also explore the beauty at your leisure, since Garden tours begin each year on April 1, offered every half-hour between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., bringing a 45 minute tour of the Gardens, Home & Greenhouse for just $7 (children under 12 are free).
204 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-524-5445, lutherburbank.org.
Sowing the Seeds of Love
For ideas on how to plant and cultivate those baby flowers, sign up for the “Through the Garden Gate” tour of seven breathtaking Santa Rosa gardens. The annual event, held as a benefit for LifeWorks of Sonoma County and other non-profits selected by the Sonoma County Medical Association Alliance and Foundation, takes place in May.
The self-guided walk offers unique access to seven private properties, and the chance to discuss gardening inspirations and techniques with the gardeners themselves. In a previous event, one location was a Spanish-style home with an exquisite multi-level garden showcasing large native oaks, many fruit trees and hundreds of blooming bulbs; another was a countryside estate in a wonderland of potted succulents, colorful flower beds, rhododendrons and charming garden structures shaded by towering redwoods.
Tours are by reservation, for more information, visit www.scmaa.org.
Flowers and Fashion
Once you get those flowers, you might wonder what to do with them (Vases everywhere! Blooms tucked behind your ears!). At McEvoy Ranch in Petaluma, one of the largest U.S. producers of estate-grown olives, the annual Orchard and Garden program includes some ideas. Programs are held April through October.
First, start with the McEvoy Ranch’s Garden Walk and Lunch, for an in-depth tour of the 550-acre ranch’s fruit orchards and certified organic gardens brimming with heirloom flowers and vegetables.
McEvoy Ranch’s head gardener Margaret Koski-Kent and her expert garden staff will discuss organic gardening techniques and give helpful tips on seed-saving, crop rotation and composting. The tour concludes with a sensory evaluation of the olive oil and a seasonally inspired lunch.
Then, enjoy the Floral Arranging Workshop, perfect for novice or floral experts, as a hands-on workshop in the art of building bouquets and envisioning centerpieces. All materials are provided and participants leave with their handcrafted arrangements.
5935 Red Hill Rd., Petaluma, 707-778-2307, mcevoyranch.com.