Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What is a Weed? - Native Plants at Hess Collection Winery

What is a weed?
A Plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Hess Collection Winery and Art Museum
View looking down on the courtyard from the visitor center.
The garden features a design by acclaimed landscape architect Peter Walker, with plantings by John Greenlee, noted expert in grass ecology.

"The Hess Collection Courtyard is designed as an integral part of our mountain landscape and a commitment to care for the land we farm. Our vineyards are rimmed by meadows and redwood forests, and although our garden aesthetic is wild and natural, it is well-tended to maintain the experience of a lushly undulating alpine meadow. Native and exotic grasses and ornamentals are chosen for variation in height and seasonal interest. Volunteer plants surprise us in Spring, seedheads are allowed to dry and drop their contents in Fall. Thus, the garden is allowed to propagate itself and actively evolve.
Because the Eastern-most boundary of the naturally occurring redwoods is here in the Mayacamas Mountains, we incorporated these trees with Western sword ferns to echo the nearby woods."

Plantings encourage beneficial insects, taking in native species of common yarrow, Western columbine, bush anemone, creeping ceanothus and blue beach aster.
To add further color, Mimulus 'Pumpkin,' Purdy's Foothill penstemon, Salvia cleavlandii & S. spathacea were selected, along with yellow-eyes grass and Zauschneria californica.

On a recent summer day I made my way to Napa wine country to revisit the artfully arranged, Modernist landscape at The Hess Collection Winery.

A rectilinear pool and wisteria-draped pergola wrap around the garden's central layout of pristine decomposed gravel pathways: Their angular, dynamic pattern extends an invitation to enjoy the spirited plantings where butterflies hover and dragonflies dart overhead.

The garden holds a special place in my memory, having first encountered it while researching the Winery Gardens chapter for West Coast Gardenwalks - before the pieces fell into place for my move from Chicago to California.
(The Hess Collection garden also features in Gardenwalks in California, INSIDERS' Guide, 2005.)

Milky bellflower / Campanula lactiflora
As the Hess Collection celebrates 20 years,
the courtyard setting has matured into a relaxing oasis.

Link to Andy Goldsworthy Installation:
at Hess Collection Winery


  1. There is so much greenery here, I can see why you have fond memories of this garden. The pale blooms are also a pretty sight. May I know the name of this flower?

  2. Autumn Belle, I've added an identification for the sweet pale blooms pictured, which I believe to be correct. It is a setting lush with greenery that adds to the atmosphere. It's spectacular in spring when the scent of wisteria is in the air!

  3. I remember a friend from college telling me she wouldn't plant perennials because they look 'weedy' too much of the time. I think about her every time I find a new perennial to put in the ground. ;-)

  4. Wow! What a neat field trip and memories tucked away. It looks like a beautiful and peaceful place. I love wisteria so I'm sure the place smells wonderful!

  5. Janet, That's quite a statement! Can you imagine life without perennials!!
    So foreign that it's difficult to wrap my mind around. Well, WE know the pleasure of planting perennials ... to alliterate :~)

    Miss Daisy, Yes, a lovely field trip where memories are icing on the cake. With fall in the air, we gardeners can begin thinking about the scent of wisteria in the year ahead. Garden lovers, all!

  6. An interesting post. Yes it is good to encourage beneficial insects. I remember many years ago hearing someone or reading may even have been Margery Fish saying that a weed is a plant in the wrong place. How true.

  7. Joanne, Gardeners see beneficial insects and know they're contributing to the health of the planet in positive ways, don't you think? I'm familiar with that wonderful saying about weeds, but never can recall who is credited with first having said the words. Are you feeling a hint of Fall in the air?

  8. Hi Alice, There is no such thing as a MeMe without you. See why you are one of my favorite garden bloggers here:

  9. Lynn,
    I've read your MeMe post and feel you've transcended the 'rules' of this MeMe in every way; most assuredly with generosity and consideration for your fellow bloggers. Everything you write reflects back on who you are as a person. Someone I do hope to get to know one day in the 'real world.'
    You've made my day, and I truly appreciate it! Alice

  10. What beautiful planting and landscaping. Just to let you know I've eventually posted on the MeMe you tagged me with last week :)

  11. The long pool is really nice. I like how it's made of stone - somewhat rustic, but modernist in it's long long long shape

  12. Btw, I love your way with words and wish the vocab and language would spill forth like it does for you.

  13. Very cool! Love the pool!
    I might disagree with Emerson and suggest that a weed is a plant in the wrong place. I'm battling with neighbor's Ivy, and a few other things, and they are weeds to me.
    BTW, you were high on my list for the MeMe meme, but my garden decided otherwise. I've instead nominated you as my favorite commenter on Blotanical ;->

  14. I lived in Bay Area when I was little. This is a cool blog!
    And you made me look at "weeds" a little differently now. Thanks... god post!


  15. HM, Looking forward to reading your MeMe to see what you have decided to reveal about yourself :~D

    Wendy, You've captured the atmosphere perfectly - the garden's geometry - one shape playing off another - speaks of the rustic woodland surrounding it within the contemporary context of the design. ((And btw, many years of writing about gardens = 'spilling forth.' LOL ))

    TM, Invasives like ivy are a reality, I agree. Yet I think many visitors who are not garden-savvy find the signage at Hess Collection helps them to understand the type of plantings they see before them.
    I'm deeeelighted that you deemed to send a Blotanical nomination my way! So much fun getting to know other bloggers by way of this MeMe.

  16. I love to see weeds defined is such a way... the way Ralph did. I love weeds adaptability to grow both wild and in garden. Their survival instinct always remain intact! ~bangchik