Visit Sonoma Botanical Garden
Located near Glen Ellen, at the heart of the Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Botanical Garden boasts one of North America's largest and most important collections of temperate-climate Asian plants as well as California native plants.
Along with waterfalls, ponds, and photo-worthy views of Sonoma Valley, the Garden's 25 acres house mature flowering Asian trees and shrubs, many of which are rare and endangered varieties, and a 22-acre parcel of oak savannah and chaparral.
More than 90 percent of the Asian collection was grown from seeds collected during yearly expeditions into the wild regions of the world (mainly China, Japan, Tibet, Yunnan, India, and Nepal). Other trips have collected from parts of North America.
Sonoma Botanical Garden dates to 1968, when Jane Davenport Jansen purchased 61 acres of land, all sitting on Coastal Miwok land, in Glen Ellen for vineyards. The property was pocked with old rock quarries, which filled with water during heavy winter rains, creating a stream with ponds and waterfalls. In 1987, Jansen started a garden on 20 hillside acres, and originally named it Quarryhill. That same year representatives made their first seed collecting expedition to Asia. In 1988 a nursery was established, and planting began in 1990.
Added in 1998, the 22-acre Three Springs Ranch property celebrates California native plants. The "living museum" expands the Garden's environmental educational around the conservation efforts of endangered Asian plants and California native plants.
Some of the varieties preserved at the Gardens are threatened with extinction in the wild due to habitat loss, which usually comes about through human actions like deforestation, agricultural expansion, and/or resource consumption. The fact that these plants grow at the Gardens, and that their seeds are being saved, increases the chances that they will not become extinct.
Another example is a rose that's endangered in the wilds of China, Rosa rugosa. It is now widely planted at the Gardens. The Gardens also Rhododendrons, which are native to both Asia and California.
In addition to rare and endangered plants, the Gardens also include comprehensive collections of wild Asian roses, oaks, maples, magnolias, lilies, and dogwoods. Throughout the Gardens, visitors will find Tibetan Prayers Flags, Fu Dogs, and other relics, all Asian relics offering protection, that have been gifted by donors of the Gardens.
Visitors are welcome to picnic in designated areas. Dogs, bicycles, and smoking are prohibited. Both self-guided and docent-led tours are available. A gift shop at the entrance features a variety of gifts for botanical-lovers. Docent-led tours are about two hours long for walking tours, or one hour for the Glen Ellen Green Tour done by cart. When visiting, please be respectful of the land and stay on the paths. Do not step on plants or remove cuttings.
Wine tasting opportunities abound in tasting rooms and wineries in Glen Ellen and throughout the Sonoma Valley. Lodging is available in the 22-room Jack London Lodge on the tree-lined Sonoma Creek; in the historic and stylish Gaige House + Ryokan; and in boutique hotels, bed and breakfast inns, and vacation rentals throughout the area.