Explore Sonoma Flowers and Winery Gardens
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 Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens, 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.
Offered seasonally from April to November, the Lynmar Experience begins with a beautiful walking tour of the property where you'll learn about Lynmar Estate's philosophy on the importance of sustainability and land conservation. That's followed by an elegant three-course farm-to-table lunch. Crafted by the estate chef, the menu changes every other month, in order to showcase all that is growing on site. The meal is thoughtfully paired to Lynmar’s handcrafted wines and is served on the veranda overlooking the gardens and vineyard.
Ten Thousand Tulips
Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & 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.
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.
Nestled in Healdsburg's Dry Creek Valley on stunning acreage surrounded by mountains and just a quarter-mile walk from the Russian River, the Russian River Rose Company features 650 varieties of roses, and more than 2,000 individual plants ranging from ancient Species roses to 21st century hybrids. There are tea roses dating from the 1800s, cluster-flowered Polyanthus, ultra-sweet-smelling Noisettes, and miniature roses. There's also a wonderful butterfly garden and a gorgeous Rose Allee — a series of eight 12-foot by 12-foot iron arches set on a path through a vineyard and rose fields. Each arch is covered with a different 'theme' of rambling roses.
This Bud's for You
Seeing the gardens may inspire your green thumb. It's the May Day Plant Sale to the rescue, held at Luther Burbank Home & Gardens in Santa Rosa. 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. You can also explore the beauty at your leisure, since Garden tours begin each year on April 1.
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.
Bees N Blooms presents a Lavender Labyrinth, the largest in California. Stroll through the fragrant fields of eight different types of lavender and enjoy other flowers, as well. They have honeybees to visit, a tree nursery to peruse, and an organic vegetable garden.
Some of Sonoma County's most breathtaking lavender is found at Matanzas Creek Winery in Bennett Valley. The winery planted spectacular, terraced lavender gardens in 1991, and each June they provide visitors with a fragrant and gorgeous welcome to the winery. The beautiful lavender fields are farmed to preserve the essence of the local ecosystem. Once the lavender reaches full bloom, it is hand-cut and the entire plant is utilized in the production of the winery's bath, body, and home products.