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Garden Inspired Paintings at the West County - Master Gardeners Fall Garden Tour


Garden Inspired Paintings at the West County 
Master Gardeners Fall Garden Tour 

By Karen Felker

In the August issue of the Sonoma County Gazette, we announced the upcoming Bloomin’ Backyards Garden Tour, hosted by the Master Gardeners of Sonoma County. With the theme “Warm Autumn Days…A Time to Plant, A Time to Harvest,” the tour of West County gardens emphasizes how our California climate influences the plants we put in our gardens and the best time to plant them. 

Sales of garden-themed crafts, made by talented Master Gardeners, have always been an integral part of the biennial tour. This year, for the first time, we are pleased to also offer plein air paintings inspired by the gardens on the tour. 

Contributions From Gifted Local Artists

Garden painting by Sandra RubinThe five local artists who generously donated their paintings to help support the Master Gardener program are Susan R. Ball, Susan Greer, Sally Jones Paul, Sandra Rubin, and Tamra Sanchez. Given free rein to paint what attracted them most, they worked in oils or pastels to create stunning images. 

Each of the five paintings they created, one for each garden, uniquely captures a characteristic feature of the garden’s design. One illustrates a classic West County scene of a farm stand under redwoods; another focuses on plump yellow lemons peeking through stiff, dark green leaves, their skins so vivid you can almost smell them. A third painting portrays an inviting sunny outdoor seating area, complete with sheltering umbrella. You’ll be able to see all of the paintings on the day of the tour; each one will be placed on an easel in the garden that inspired its creation. Also on the day of the tour, one or more of the five artists, as well as watercolorist Annie Murphy Springer, will be demonstrating their skills in the gardens.

Susan R. Ball, Cathy's Garden

Crafts, Garden Books, Art Prints… and Plants

Our Craft Market will feature artfully crafted items for home and garden, all produced by Sonoma County Master Gardeners. You’ll find a wide variety of original, one-of-a-kind items, including bird and native bee houses, colorful wreaths of leaves and dried flowers, whimsical scarecrows and clay-pot people, succulent arrangements, birdbaths, table linens, totes, and an assortment of decorative mosaic art pieces. Note cards created from the works of Master Gardeners Kim Collet and Marcia Lavine will also be on sale. 

Two weeks before the tour, you’ll be able to preview the paintings and a sampling of the crafts in the Sebastopol store windows of Copperfield's Books and Art & Soul of Sebastopol. 

This year we’ll also offer a wide selection of gently used garden books, including some vintage collector items, as well as lovely botanical art prints. 

The plant sale has always been a popular attraction at the Bloomin’ Backyards Garden Tour. This year, you’ll find plants that are water-wise and especially suited for our dry California summers. All of the plants were propagated earlier this year and then tenderly cared for by Master Gardeners in preparation for the September 18 sale. If you’re beginning to plan your winter garden, the Food Garden Specialists will be offering some unique winter vegetable starts that they nurtured from seeds.

For all purchases, only cash or checks will be accepted.

Susan Greer, Gina's GardenSustainable Gardening Practices

As trained and certified University of California volunteers, Master Gardeners are committed to providing environmentally sustainable, science-based agricultural information. In each garden we’ll have demonstrations of practices you can adopt to conserve our natural resources as you beautify your garden. Among the topics we’ll present will be composting to improve your soil, attracting beneficial insects, restoring native habitat, companion planting, lawn removal, and drip irrigation. A representative of the Sonoma County Water Agency will be also available to tell you about local and state rebate programs offered for turf removal and gray water system installation.

Tickets On Sale 

You can purchase tickets online at, or in person at Copperfield’s Books and Readers’ Books

Since 1981, Sonoma County Master Gardeners have been serving non-commercial home gardeners, providing unbiased, high quality, science based information. All monies raised through this tour help support the Master Gardener program.