Western Hills, the famed rare plant garden in the hills of Occidental, re-opens for spring Friday, April 11, with a third season of plant sales, public tours and an expanded Friday-to-Sunday schedule.
Co-owner Tim Szybalski said the garden has been slowly evolving, with a new outdoor event space added to serve garden clubs, horticultural societies and corporate groups. Four bridges have been restored and the "big house" that once belonged to the late founders Marshall Olbrich and Lester Hawkins is undergoing a major renovation that involves saving the original adobe walls.
"We have expanded our propagation efforts and now offer a broader selection of plants for sale from the garden," Szybalski said.
The plant sales provide income to restore the historic garden, which gained international fame in the 1970s and 1980s for its collection of rare and unusual plants.
Propagation efforts have concentrated on the garden's more unusual plants as well as identifying vendors who have comparable plants. Among them is the Pitkin Marsh Lily, an endangered perennial herb that is endemic to certain wetland areas of Sonoma County.
Szybalski said an endangered Wollemi pine was added to Western Hills' collection last year.
"And we just added a companion. The Wollemi was called the 'Botanical Find of the Century' and a 'living fossil' when it was discovered in a remote gorge in Australia in 1994," he said.
Another addition to the garden is a Sequoia Sempervirens 'Yurok Prince,' gifted to Western Hills by the American Conifer Society. The new redwood cultivar is one of a few specimens of a low-growing, horizontal branching shrub that recently was found in Oregon.
Guided tours of the extensive display garden are available by appointment. Admission is $10. To make an appointment, call 872-5463 or email Stacie@WesternHillsGarden.com. 16250 Coleman Valley Road, Occidental.
HEALDSBURG: Russian River Rose Co. reopening
The rose season finally has arrived and with it, the re-opening of Healdsburg's Russian River Rose Co.
The seasonal nursery, which also features irises and perennials as well as extensive display gardens, is open every weekend in April and May with special themes each weekend.
Presentations will be offered at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. today and Sunday, April 5 and 6, featuring tips on how to prepare and tend your rose garden to coax out the best bloom possible. The talks will cover planting, fertilizing and grooming, with a special emphasis on water-wise practices. The talks includes a planting demonstration.
On April 12 and 13, the focus is "Lovely Irises and Early Blooming Roses." Expected to be in bloom are some 120 varieties of irises, many of them world-class award winners. The weekend will also mark the debut of two new additions to the gardens — "The Purple Playground," a collection of 15 different purple, mauve and lavender fragrant roses, as well as a Hummingbird Wall, a 12-by-12 foot trellis filled with plants that attract and feed hummingbirds.
The display gardens and nursery are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors are invited to come by for a stroll, but are asked not to bring picnics or pets. 1685 Magnolia Drive, Healdsburg. 433-7455 or russian-river-rose.com.
SANTA ROSA: Come visit home of Luther Burbank
The Luther Burbank Home & Gardens once again is open for docent-led tours.