Saturday, June 13, 2009

Radiant Lavender Bloom Fest Part ll

Matanzas Creek Winery
The gardens at Matanzas Creek are situated amid hilly terrain in Sonoma County, California. Washed over in luminous hues, the setting combines an elegant naturalism and robust verdure,
where majestic native oaks tower over extravagant plantings.

Landscaping was undertaken in 1990 by former owners and founders, Sandra and Bill MacIver. Sandra's early years in New Orleans were unique; her grandmother Edith Rosenwald Stern the doyenne of the acclaimed estate, Longue Vue House and Gardens. Undoubtedly that tantalizing realm planted the seed for the MacIvers' Sonoma garden.

It's difficult not to be swept away by the heady perfume of lavender that greets you during a June visit. Some 4,500 plants Grow on staggered terraces, the cultivated varieties 'Grosso' and 'Provence.' The distinctive hues and textures create diagonal patterns, leading you on a gradual ascent up the steps of a central path toward the winery's main building.

Precise angles and planes of a rectangular water garden provide a refreshing contrast to the lavish plantings. Specimens include Cyperus papyrus, with its airy terminals, and giant scouring rush, a California native.

Drifts of swaying grasses like the tall purple moor grass, which produces blooming spikes from June through December, soften the hillsides and walkways, alike.

Masses of perennials thrive under Sonoma's bright skies, in a design first conceived by landscape designer Gary Ratway (of Digging Dog Nursery). Gary is also acknowledged for his contributions to the restoration of the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.

In addition to compositions filled with ornamental grasses and pungent herbs, the gardens feature selections of ornamental vines, shrubs and unusual trees. Parrotia persica boasts medleys of amethyst & lemon-lime leaves in spring, shifting to shimmering golds and reds in the fall.

Eloquently described in the winery's garden tour booklet, the governing philosophy at Matanzas Creek is one of "designing to reduce design."

It's readily apparent throughout the grounds, but perhaps the most striking examples are boulders weighing 21,000 pounds. Set in place near a stairway, these massive forms look as if they have been there forever.

Every year the winery hosts a celebratory event before the lavender harvest.


  1. Love those lavender farms.....this one is beautiful & I'll have to try to visit it next time I'm in Northern Ca. My hubby & I were able to visit Sequim, WA last summer as part of our 30th anniv vacation & we visited Purple Haze Lavender Farm
    & stayed at the Red Caboose Getaway right down the street....what fun

  2. Alice, you always give me something to think about... like that henge-shaped fountain.

  3. It looks very beautiful. I especially like the water features. I can also imagine the fragrance from all those Lavender plants....and the buzzing of the bees!

  4. The garden looks beautiful and I especially like the water features. I can also imagine the fragrance from all those Lavender plants...and the buzzing of the bees!

  5. Simply gorgeous!

    Reminds me of the time at a cafe when I heard three elderly men talking about their flying days and one mentioned the time he flew over lavender fields. They all sighed and sat back looking up dreamily. :)

  6. Susie, thank you for sharing a getaway for visitors to Sequim and PurpleHaze site.

    Helen, likewise, your posts always leave me pondering in a most positive way.

    Easy, the bees, needless to say, were everywhere! Love it!!

    Ms. S, a truly charming anecdote. Merci!

  7. Hi Alice

    Blissful surroundings indeed.

    Love Lavender when its shaped like that.Sure enough it's a job of work keeping it clipped but high input gives high output as it were.

    A seriously beautiful place.

  8. Truly beautiful! I love how fields of lavender sway in the wind of that area too!

  9. Alice, thank you for taking me to a lavender lover paradise! Wonderful!

  10. Matanza Creek Winery is always a pleasure to visit.
    Thanks for writing about this fun garden.
    And thank you for crediting Gary Ratway for the design of this and his long time contribution to Mendocino Botanical Garden.
    I have found that he is often overlooked or not mentioned at all in regards to the incredible work he did at the Mendo Bot.
    Last year I spoke briefly to the new director of the Mendo Bot at a garden venue and he seems uninterested in the work that Gary did for the Mendo Bot.
    Since that aloof meeting I have never gone back up to Mendo Bot and I have not renewed my membership or support of that garden.

  11. Rob, blissful, similarly to your sublime French countryside.

    Heather, yes, movement, & wind always moves through the Sonoma valley, is another key element to the lavender's beauty.

    Tatyana, thank you for taking time to visit.

    Michelle, I hear you. It's strange when important contributions are ignored.
    Your feedback is appreciated; coming from a skilled, talented designer offers an especially apt perspective.