OCCIDENTAL: Western Hills offering memberships

The famed Western Hills Garden in Occidental for the first time is offering memberships that will include free access to the garden as well as other benefits.

A respected and well-known destination for rare plant collectors for many years, Western Hills, under new owners Chris and Tim Szybalski of Moraga, is struggling back to health after falling into foreclosure and neglect.

The Szybalskis, a tiny paid staff and a cadre of volunteers, are working to bring the garden back. But it's a huge and expensive undertaking.

The new membership program is seen as a way of providing needed support to keep the garden, filled with rare and unusual plants, alive and open to the public.

Membership plans cost $100 for individuals, $500 for Founder's Club members and $1,000 for corporate sponsors. All include unlimited access to the garden, guest passes and other benefits. Founder's Club Members who join by Dec. 31 will also receive a free 2013 calendar featuring photos of the garden.

A new event space at the garden, located on Coleman Valley Road, is nearing completion.

The garden is open by appointment only during winter, but will reopen in February on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For information or to join, visit westernhillsgarden.com or call 872-5463. New members may also send a check payable to Western Hills Nursery and mail it to 16250 Coleman Valley Road, Occidental, 95465. Include your address, contact information including email and telephone number and your name as you would like it to appear on the garden's website.

GLEN ELLEN: Learn how to cure your olives

Got olives but at a loss what to do with them? Don Landis, an olive expert, will show you how to cure your crop without lye during a free workshop from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 6 at B.R. Cohn Winery in Glen Ellen.

Landis will share a history of the olive, as well as tips on when to pick. He also will demonstrate various de-bittering techniques, including a Greek-style brine cure, a water cure and a salt cure. If the weather is nice, workshop-goers may roam the winery's 120-year-old olive orchard.

Reservations are required. To RSVP call 938-4064 ext. 124. The winery is located at 15000 Sonoma Highway.

SANTA ROSA: Free demonstration on rose pruning

The Redwood Empire Rose Society will give a free hands-on demonstration on rose pruning from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 5 and 12.

Consulting rosarians will be on hand to answer questions. Refreshments will be served.

The demonstration will be at the society's garden, 2050 Yulupa Ave., Santa Rosa. For information email ruthbrown@sbcglobal.net.

(You can direct Home and Garden news to Staff Writer Meg McConahey at meg.mcconahey@ pressdemocrat.com or 521-5204.)