Nov 1, 2018
By Val Larsen
In 2003 a friend who knows I love gardens and gardening, introduced me to Sonoma Horticultural Nursery, a place of timeless beauty, jewel-toned clematis arbors and pathways that lead to a meadow, through groves of rhododendrons, unusual rare shade plants and an azalea and wisteria bordered pond.
There is another plant lover, who visited the gardens many years before and was also smitten by this place of magnificent and rare blooms and foliage. Mike Boss never forgot the gardens that touched more than the senses and wove their way into his heart. Not so very long ago, the 7.5 acre nursery was up for sale and Mike, with a leap of faith jumped in line, just behind the developers that were planning to do what developers do. A year ago when the sale fell through for the developers, Mike was able to acquire the nursery. To his delight he discovered a collection of every type of redwood that exists today including the Bald Cypress, with ‘knees’ that pop up from the roots around the base of the trees, like so many tiny sculptures.
Every season in the garden brings visual delights. Spring’s dazzling flowers, summer’s cool, soothing green alcoves and fall’s spectacular foliage. Monet would have been happy here.
Like so many residents in coastal Sonoma County with limited sunshine, I am delighted by the selection of flowering shade plants at the nursery. On a recent visit, I couldn’t resist purchasing a perennial yellow bleeding heart vine. A little jewel that now lives in my own garden. I was also surprised by the edible shade plants they are cultivating.
Mike manages the gardens with the help of a small caring staff who work hard to make sure this place will thrive and be accessible for the countless visitors who have come over the last fifty years and who will visit in the future. Mike’s vision of connecting people with nature includes ongoing workshops on gardening, ecology and the role plants play in our lives, as well as how plants can heal ourselves, our communities and our planet. There might even be some upcoming cooking classes that teach delicious ways to use edible plants. The second Sunday of every month is a volunteer day, which I am very excited to be a part of. It will be a treat to learn about the rare plants that grow in the gardens as well as knowing I am helping to preserve a hidden gem in Sonoma County.
Sonoma Horticultural Gardens
3970 Azalea Lane, Sebastopol, CA 95472
Nursery hours: Thursday-Monday: 9am-5pm, Closed Tuesday and Wednesday
Winter hours: (Nov-Jan) 9am-3:30pm
Closed: Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Dec. 18 - Jan. 9
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