Sunny spring weather has certainly been elusive this year, grey days and intermittent drizzles persist, but the fresh leaves sprouting on trees and the abundance of flowers blooming provide a bright reminder that spring is here. When I think of the change of seasons I always remember my time in Japan; the Japanese celebrate the seasons with such enthusiasm. During spring the most famous spectacle is the cherry blossom bloom when people revel in the transient flurry of the dainty flowers, sprawling out beneath the trees with friends and sake to enjoy the showering petals. Embracing this spirit for nature’s bounty my family and I decided to visit the Quarryhill Botanical Garden in Glen Ellen, noteworthy for its collection of Asian plants.
We visited the garden on a sunny day in early April when many plants were still shedding the last vestiges of our protracted winter. The abundant deciduous trees remained mostly naked, but on the ends of branches you could see tiny sprouts of unfamiliar leaves beginning form. Some early bloomers proudly stood apart from the waking garden; pretty pink apple blossoms, bright yellow and pink rhododendrons. Two ponds connected by a waterfall created a central point of the garden with a maze of trails undulating up and down the surrounding hills. Benches were conveniently peppered throughout and Asian inspired bridges gave emphasis to the origin of many of the surrounding plants. Up high on the back hill a rainbow of Tibetan prayer flags flapped vigorously in the wind.
Built on the site of several old quarries, hence the name, Quarryhill was conceived by Jane Davenport Jansen. She purchased the land in 1968 and began making expeditions to Asia in 1987 to collect unique plant varieties. Today the garden boasts “one of the largest collections of scientifically documented, wild-source Asian plants in North America”, making it of particular interest to people with botanical knowledge, but it doesn’t take an expert to appreciate the distinctive beauty of this garden. Tucked away in the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains, Quarryhill is a lovely destination to getaway, enjoy the outdoors, appreciate nature, and learn about the bounty of wildlife that exists on the other side of the world.
Mother Nature may have thrown us a curve ball this year with the crazy weather but that is all the more reason to seize the sunny days and enjoy the budding beauty that surrounds us. Quarryhill is just one of many destinations in Sonoma County to embrace the wealth of beauty spring has to offer. Check out some of the links below for more parks, walks, and talks to celebrate the season.