Monday, April 13, 2009

A Riot of Rhodies - Sonoma County Getaway




















Sonoma Horticultural Nursery








It was a glorious day for a getaway! Driving west to the Coast, we aimed our compact Scion for Bodega Bay, site of Hitchcock's, The Birds. The route took us along the back roads, through Sebastopol, for a stopover at Sonoma Horticultural Nursery: A Northern California destination for plant geeks and garden aficionados. 


Sonoma Hort features 1-1/2 miles of pathways winding through moist woodland gardens. The magic touch of proprietor Polo de Lorenzo emerges throughout the nursery's leafy surroundings; an environment befitting the nursery's emphasis on rhododendrons and azaleas. Once, during a visit in early May, I witnessed the heart-stopping performance of a legendary dove tree (Davidia involucrata), its white bracts likened to fluttering handkerchiefs. In a circular driveway, one particularly enchanting dove tree has been designated a Sonoma County treasure--Heritage Tree #20. When blooming in May, Empress trees (Paulownia tomentosa) are another revelation!

The densely planted 8-acre property encompasses a pond & Blutcher Creek - a preserve for countless water-loving specimens, which add to Sonoma Hort's beguiling vignettes and picturesque vegetation. A lavish exhibition at this time of year - replete with the riotous colors of rhodies and azaleas - also takes in the strapping foliage of primitive-appearing Gunnera chilensis, accompanied by swathes of pretty primulas. Clematis cultivars are beginning to bloom, and soon, towering foxgloves will emerge along with masses of flamboyant clematis blooms decorating vertical posts and pillars placed along the paths. 

The nursery sells species, and choice cultivated varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas, along with exceptional selections of trees, shrubs, vines and shade-loving perennials. Scheduling a springtime stroll is a must for local gardeners & anyone touring Sonoma Wine Country.  As it's open year-round, Sonoma Hort is always a lovely spot for a getaway.... and plant shopping.

Sonoma Hort does not ship plants. If you're not able to visit, drop by the web site for expert cultural advice and garden views. There's also a catalog, visitor, and contact information:

 http://sonomahort.com/
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17 comments:

  1. Hi Alice- beautiful photos. I went to Sonoma State University when I graduated from highschool many moons ago. I wish now I had been a gardener then. I feel I missed out on seeing all those lovely places. I suppose that just means I will need to go back and visit one of these days.

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  2. This looks a truly lovely spot Alice to spend some time. I must admit that I had my eyes shut for a good part of 'The Birds' so did not see much of the scenery :)

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  3. Lovely settings. I wouldn't mind visiting but the left coast is too far out (of my way).

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  4. Wish I lived closer. Sounds like a nice nursery.

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  5. Love this place! We have bought many healthy rhododendrons from them.

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  6. Wow, that blue-violet azalea is something. I've never seen an azalea with that coloration before.

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  7. Gorgeous! I love rhododendrons. Sounds like a great day.

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  8. Dear Alice,
    Thank you for the nice comment on my blog Embraceable Ewe, but now I am so sorry I visited yours. The gardens, especially yours, are gorgeous. It is still so cold here in western PA. But your beautiful pictures were just the inspiration I need to get back out there tomorrow. Even if it is only 40 degrees and I have to wear too many layers of clothes. Thank you, Heidi

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  9. This is so beautiful, of course now I want to come and visit!! Thank you so much for sharing.

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  10. Simply luscious. I'll take your rhodies over my SoCal palm trees any day. Thanks for stoking my already out of control bout with spring plant envy.

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  11. Alice,
    Your site is lovely and the combination of gardens and travel is inspired. Two of my favorite things as well. Thanks for faving me, and I'll be sure to visit often. Cheers!

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  12. Hi Thanks for posting on my blog.
    I love your photos. Your garden looks lovely.
    The white clematis above looks like one I have Marie Boisselot but then there are so many so alike.
    I lokk forward to seeing more of your blog over time.
    Joanne

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  13. What better way to appreciate the colours of rhododendrons and azaleas, reflected in the water with the bright greens of the new spring growth - looks like a lovely garden.

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  14. Hi Alice, it's the yellow azalea that catches my eye, so unusual. We have been to Napa and were overwhelmed with the landscapes beyond the grapes. It seems Sonoma is the same. That fertile land and cool climate are perfect for the woodland plants you have shown. Primulas of all types are something I yearn for, trying to find the ones that will survive our hot, dry summers. Thanks for the wonderful tour. So happy to hear of your PCH iris too, I have a seedling that made it through the winter. Hooray!
    Frances

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  15. I have always liked the name Bodega Bay and loved seeing how gorgeous it is, it even in a scary movie like The Birds! Beautiful flowers...the blue tinted azalea and the gorgeous white clematis have caught my eye! Happy GBBD...gail

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  16. Wonderful colors - takes me back to childhood memories of visits to stately home gardens in Scotland. Unfortunately rhododendrons are invasive in parts of the UK - I saw a whole hillside covered with them - funny how so much of why you like or don't like something depends on context. I try to admire the pretty weeds, because it's not their fault they're weeds. Then I yank em.

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  17. I can't believe I haven't been to this nursery - thanks for the post, Alice! I'll definitely stop by there next time I'm up....

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