Thursday, August 13, 2009

Portal to a Mediterranean Garden - Chateau St. Jean Winery

 Chateau St. Jean - Kenwood, Sonoma County

A classic pergola enhances the setting.

Clipped hedges - composed of evergreen boxwood, wax-leaf privet and rosemary - define the garden's elegant framework, and outline the decomposed gravel paths. A centrally placed fountain sets the tone for this oasis, where a sculpture of St. Jean holds sway.
Garden Plan - The Olin Partnership / At Chateau St. Jean winery in Kenwood (Sonoma County), the garden's formal layout draws inspiration from the Mediterranean-style villa, built in the 1920s: The landscape's graceful proportions and symmetry distinctively echoes traditional gardens of Italy and southern France. Cork oaks, fragrant lavender and ground-covering verbena braid together in the parking area's island beds,  while the arched portals of a masonry wall beckon visitors to enter and experience beautifully framed views of the central parterre garden appearing beyond.
Formal parterres....
Italian stone pine, London plane and windmill palm trees provide order and structure in the central parterre and adjoining garden rooms. American arborvitae hug metal arches to establish transitions between spaces.  

Decorative highlights include potted Citrus specimens, especially 'Dwarf Satsuma Mandarin.' The heady scents of 'Iceberg' roses and frothy 'Gourmet Popcorn' fill the air, while blue annuals, planted to evoke the alluring glaze of oil jars, harmonize with the pearly floral color.

Clytostoma callistegiodes  - Photo © Alice Joyce
Many showy shrubs reach their peak bloom in summer: Hydrangea 'Lanarth White' and H. 'Mariesii Variegata' thrive in a shady haven beneath California sycamores.

The tasting room terrace offers a welcoming spot to relax, where head-turning orange trumpet vines scramble up pillars. In an inner courtyard, unusual perennials grow in pots, and a stunning red camellia many decades old grows with Fatsia japonica.

Visitors can enjoy self-guided tours of the gardens during open hours.


  1. Oh, lovely! I visited there with my parents many years ago, maybe right after college. The Dark Ages. It all looks kind of Italian until you see those palm trees! Well, maybe those grow in Italy too, just not so much in the north where I've mostly been. Great pics, thanks for the tour! I feel warmer now despite the crummy skies and rain (oh wait, I said I wouldn't complain when it returned!)

  2. I was up in Sonoma County last weekend for a whirlwind family thing. But we made sure there was time for a little winetasting. We didn't make it to Kenwood, but the gardens in the area always make for a great part of the visit.

  3. Lordy, bless us all! I have you as a fave on Botanicals since I joined but only now did I realise you weren't on my blogroll. No wonder I've been missing your fab travels. All is fixed now. Hugs for a weekend of fun x

  4. Karen,
    Next time we should visit wine country together, and raise a glass of vino to the blogosphere! (Maybe by now the skies have cleared?)

    Sorry you didn't dip south into Marin, but glad you were able to fit in a bit of winetasting. It's definitely one of the best ways to spend time on a visit to Sonoma.

    my dear, thank you for noticing! I miss connecting when you are otherwise engaged :~) Hope your veggies are thriving. Hugs back at ya!!

  5. What a lush and lovely setting. The chateau makes me think of Portmeirion in Wales. That Italianate architecture is probably roughly the same vintage. Are the purple flowers you show in detail the same as the ones cascading down the pergola?

  6. Helen,
    The detail photo of violet trumpet vine is, in fact, the profuse bloomer cascading from the pergola. It's a tongue twister: Clytostoma callistegioides.
    I hope very much to visit Wales & Portmeirion. Have never been :(
    Do you have direct flights from Toronto to Wales? Cheers!