It’s time to smell the roses. Sonoma County gardens beckon with special events, tours, and promises of abundance. Here's a quick list of five special places to visit in Sonoma County.
It's easy to while away a morning or afternoon meandering through these gardens nestled among the vineyards in Dry Creek Valley. Immerse yourself in hundreds of rose varieties, and stroll the Rose Allée featuring eight huge rose-covered arches.
The Deluxe Gourmet Perfume Rose Harvest Tour in May offers the ultimate rose garden experience with a delicious rose-infused “tea” menu; an “insider” version of the traditional Classic Perfume Tour; re-creations of the scents enjoyed by Marie Antoinette, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Cleopatra VII; and viewing the collection of antique purse-sized perfume atomizers.
You can see special demonstrations like the “Happy Rose Garden How-to” or “Fragrant Roses to Fill Your Senses,” and take docent-led tours of “Glorious Irises, Bedazzlers of Spring." Moms are in for a special treat on Mother’s Day at the “Mother’s Day Open Garden.” Check the company's calendar of events for more details.
Russian River Rose Company 1685 Magnolia Drive, Healdsburg, 707-433-7455
Take a winding drive into the hills north of Santa Rosa to explore this lush garden inspired by Monet’s paintings of his gardens at Giverny. Stroll through the flowers, with a profusion of roses in spring, and get lost in an Impressionist painting while enveloping yourself in springtime blooms.
Located on the eastern edge of Sonoma County and owned by the Fahden family since 1912, this 100-acre property includes a volcanic cave as well as the Monet garden setting. A teahouse overlooks ponds filled with water lilies, and mountain vineyard views abound. Call ahead to visit and for a wine tasting appointment to sip their mountain estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon.
Hans Fahden Vineyards 4855 Petrified Forest Road, Calistoga, 707-942-6760
Explore an ever-changing series of gallery-style walk-through gardens, showcasing new and innovative designs from the world's finest landscape architects and designers. Each garden is unique; some are architectural, some more plant orientated, and all encourage interaction and contemplation.
Cornerstone is also home to Sunset magazine's Outdoor Kitchen and Test Gardens, as well a collection of independent and unique shops and galleries, tasting rooms (both wine and distilled spirits), and a deli/café. Festivals and other events are held on weekends.
Cornerstone Sonoma 23570 Highway 121, Sonoma, 707-933-3010
Explore an Asian woodland near Glen Ellen in the Valley of the Moon. Quarryhill offers 25 acres of mature, flowering Asian trees along with magnolias, dogwoods, roses, lilies, rhododendrons, and other flowers. Many are rare and endangered species.
As one of the pre-eminent Asian botanical gardens, Quarryhill features one of the largest collections of documented, wild-collected Asian plants in the world. Follow the verdant paths and you’ll find relaxing places to sit and take in the season.
You’re welcome to picnic at designated areas. Ponds, waterfalls, and views of Sonoma Valley enhance the peaceful effect. Self-guided tours are available daily or you can arrange docent-led tours by calling two weeks in advance.
Quarryhill Botanical Gardens 12841 Sonoma Highway, Glen Ellen, 707-996-3166
Founded as a cattle ranch in the 1880s, Garden Valley Ranch is now home to more than 8,000 rose bushes, with 60-plus varieties on five beautiful acres of fields and gardens, and one of the nation’s few growers to offer chemical-free cut garden roses.
Tour the grounds, and marvel over floral sights such as the 220-foot-long by 14-foot-wide display border, edged in local stone and containing roses, perennials, shrubs, and annuals arranged in color sequence as in the Gertrude Jekyll style of old. Guided public tours are available once a month, May to November ($10; advance reservations required). The garden store, nursery, and grounds are open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays, or by appointment (on occasion, the grounds may be closed for farm maintenance or private events).
Garden Valley Ranch 498 Pepper Road, Petaluma, 707-795-0919