A Horticultural Tour of Sonoma County

Annual Conference of the California Garden and Landscape History Society
September 8-9, 2012, Santa Rosa, California

Our 2012 conference will celebrate the horticultural heritage of Sonoma County — “the chosen spot,” as Luther Burbank wrote in 1875, “of all this earth as far as Nature is concerned.” We second that. For more than a century, Sonoma County has brought forth a rich diversity of plant material that has found its way into the gardens of the state, country, and the world. The plant nurseries of Sonoma have few equals anywhere; many are a testament to what writer Mac Griswold has called “businesses . . . small and idiosyncratic, the brain-children of people with odd and original visions of how gardens should be.” Some are well known; others quietly exist, known only to clients and friends. The growers are all, though, passionate about plants; their contributions have contributed to our unique Californian horticultural heritage. We invite you to join us in learning about the past, present, and future of plant propagation in the lovely Sonoma County of California.

Lectures and tours feature:
•    Luther Burbank Home and Gardens
•    Valley of the Moon
•    Wildwood Farm
•    Quarryhill Botanical Garden
•    California Flora Nursery
•    Western Hills Garden

Conference Fee:
Includes all conference events: tours and talks Saturday and Sunday; Saturday evening reception; lunch Saturday, and lunch Sunday.

Includes all conference events: tours and talks Saturday and Sunday; Saturday evening reception; lunch Saturday, and lunch Sunday.

By August 24th After August 24th
(space permitting)
CGLHS Members (Full conference) $190 $220
Non-Members (Full conference)* $220 $250
Student (Full conference)* $160 $160

Conference Hotel:
Courtyard Marriott, 175 Railroad Street, Santa Rosa, 707-573-9000; Hotel Website
Reserve by August 17; mention CGLHS for discounted rate of $149/night.
The hotel is located in the Historic Railroad Square District of Santa Rosa. Restaurants, shops, and historic buildings are within walking distance.

Saturday, September 8: Santa Rosa and Valley of the Moon
8:30am – 11:00am
Courtyard Marriot, Sonoma Room
CGLHS Annual Meeting Adele Yare: “Luther Burbank”
Dave Fazio: “History of Sonoma Nurseries”

11:00am – 1:00pm
Luther Burbank Home and Gardens
Tour of home and garden
Lunch with a talk on the restoration of the gardens by Tom Brown

1:30pm – 2:30pm
Wildwood Farm, Kenwood

2:45pm – 4:00pm
Quarryhill Botanical Garden, Glen Ellen
Talks by Director William McNamara and Nursery Manager/Education Coordinator, Corey s. Barnes

5:30pm – 7:00pm

Sunday, September 9: Fulton and Occidental
9:00am – 10:00am
California Flora Nursery, Fulton

10:30am – 1:30pm
Western Hills Garden, Occidental

Luther Burbank Home and Gardens is the site of the home, greenhouse, and gardens where Burbank lived and experimented with plants for most of his 50-year career. The site is a Registered National, State and City Historic Landmark; the gardens contain many Burbank-cultivated plants. We’ll have a docent-led tour of the Victorian garden, a Memorial garden, house, and other gardens.

California Flora Nursery, opened for business in 1981 as a native plant nursery. Phil van Soelen and Sherrie Althouse emphasize natives, small container sizes, and in-house propagation with an emphasis on species and genetic diversity. The nursery received the 2002 Annual Award from the California Horticultural Society for contributions to California horticulture. Both Sherrie and Phil are past presidents of the Milo Baker (Sonoma County) Chapter of the California Native Plant Society.

Quarryhill Botanical Garden began in 1987 when Jane Davenport Jansen established a garden on the site of an old quarry in Glen Ellen. Today the garden contains plants from Asia grown from seeds collected in the wild; some are now the only existing examples of certain plant material due to development and destruction of once remote sites. Quarryhill has partnered with the Howick Arboretum and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Edinburgh, on expeditions to China, Japan, India, Taiwan, and Nepal.

Western Hills Garden formerly the Western Hills Rare Plant Nursery, was created by Lester Hawkins and Marshall Ohlbrich in the 1960s. Many plants we now take for granted were first introduced here such as penstemons and euphorbias, planted by the original owners once they began collecting and propagating plants from around the world. A destination of serious gardeners, it is the “Tiffany’s of plants,” according to the New York Times. Now under new ownership and called the Western Hills Garden, the property has been designated a Preservation Assistance Garden by the Garden Conservancy.

Wildwood Farm is a five acre park-like setting nestled in the Valley of the Moon. Highlights of the nursery are 250 different Japanese maples, 50 varieties of dogwood, and companion plants for Western gardens. The garden is on the site of a property that was designed by Californian John McLaren (1846-1943), longtime superintendent of Golden Gate Park. Still existing are several trees that were planted at McLaren’s behest. This charming nursery is hidden in plain view; it is a delight to plant collectors and gardeners.

Tom Brown, immediate past president of CGLHS, landscape architect, historian, author, and teacher. Tom was the historian on the Luther Burbank Garden restoration project, among many others. He has contributed to Pacific Horticulture, and has taught Landscape History at University of California, Berkeley.

Dave Fazio, has been the owner of Sonoma Mission Gardens in Sonoma for 37 years. He taught horticulture at Santa Rosa Junior College for more than a quarter century, and was co-host of “Garden Talk” on KSRO in Santa Rosa for almost two decades. He still fills in at the station occasionally.

Adele Yare, head of the speaker’s bureau at Luther Burbank Home and Gardens, is a retired teacher and active gardener. She is also a docent at Duncan’s Mill in western Sonoma County.
Recommended Reading:
Dreyer, Peter. A Gardener Touched with Genius: The Life of Luther Burbank (1975).
London, Jack. The Valley of the Moon (1914).
Raskin, Jonah. Field Days: A Year of Farming, Eating, and Drinking Wine in California (2009).
Smith, Jane S. The Garden of Invention: Luther Burbank and the Business of Breeding Plants (2009).
Wilson, Simone. Sonoma County: The River of Time. Chatsworth, Calif.: Windsor Publications (1990).

Websites to Visit:
Sonoma County Farm Trails information and maps:
Sonoma County Nurseries:
Sonoma County Wineries:

Places to Visit:
In Santa Rosa:
Historic Railroad Square – shops, antiques, restaurants, night life
Downtown Santa Rosa – brew pubs, restaurants, movie theatres
Charles Schulz “Peanuts” Museum / Ice Skating Rink
Prince Greenway walking trail / bike path that follows Santa Rosa Creek
Howarth Park / Spring Lake – great for hiking, biking, kids

Healdsburg – historic town square – wine tasting, shops, restaurants,
Glen Ellen – Jack London Historic State Park
Sonoma – historic town square – shops resturants

Farther afield:
Petaluma is a 30-minute freeway drive (antiques, shops, cafes on the Petaluma River waterfront, etc.)
Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park (a portion of Mariano G. Vallejo’s former rancho, with its large adobe casa partially restored)
Bodega Bay and gorgeous Northern California beaches are 45 minutes west.
Scenic drive – River Road to Guerneville–Russian River area, with redwoods, wineries, scenery, the river. On the way, turn on Slusser Road to see the Kunde Vineyards and the incredible landscaping along the road and vineyards.