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Spring in Bloom
Catch the season March – June!
Sonoma Botanical Garden expecting spectacular spring bloom due to winter rain.
It’s a good year to be a plant in California! After heavy winter rains, Sonoma Botanical Garden (SBG) is expecting a particularly vibrant spring bloom in its 25-acre Asian Woodland Garden and a riot of wildflowers on the newly opened California Oaks Trail.
Sonoma Botanical Garden is where East meets West, celebrating the beauty and importance of both Asian and California native plants. The Asian Woodland will be a trove of flashy florals this spring when rhododendrons, Chinese tulip trees, and more burst into bloom. And on the California Oak Trail, the native seedbank of lupines, poppies, popcorn flowers, and other native plants will delight and dazzle. As the only botanic garden in the North Bay, Sonoma Botanical Garden is the perfect spring spot for a day trip or weekend getaway. Meander along the ample trails and revel in splashes of color, bring a picnic to enjoy at one of the Garden’s picnic tables, or reach your step count by hiking up the Garden’s varied topography.
Blooming events occur frequently at this time—some can last for weeks while some may last for just a week or less. Visitors can get the latest on current, must-see flowers at the Garden Gift Shop or, to plan a visit during peak blooms, follow the Garden on Facebook or Instagram for regular photo updates. Visitors are also encouraged to share tips and photos from their Garden adventures with the hashtag #SonomaBGBloom.
Early Spring (March – April)
Flamboyant rhododendrons announce the change from winter to spring in oranges, reds, pinks, and white. The Makino Rhododendron (Rhododendron makinoi), one of many species at SBG, blushes in the Asian Woodland as a towering shrub, more than 8 feet tall and packed with flowers. Native to Japan where populations are vulnerable, trumpeted blooms call attention to the many rare and endangered plants in SBG’s living conservation collection.
On the newly opened California Oaks Trail, lavender lupines rise above the fresh green of early spring. The Sky Lupine (Lupinus nanus) pairs purple petals with magenta and white accents – a whirl of conical color.
Mid Spring (April-May)
As the season shifts, don’t forget to look up! Many trees in the Asian Woodland display their fantastic florals high up among their leaves like the Chinese Tulip Tree (Liriodendron chinense). Take a moment to pause beneath one of these massive trees to appreciate the beauty of its mass of cupped, yellow-green flowers. Related to the Tulip Tree found in the southern United States, the Chinese Tulip Tree is near threatened in the wild.
Many California natives that have been dormant through the summer and much of winter will be showing their true colors. On the hillsides and in the chaparral, visitors will see solid yellow swaths of Sticky Monkeyflower (Diplacus aurantiacus). A spindly perennial half the year, it turns into a showy delight in spring and attracts legions of hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.
Late Spring (May-June)
The start of summer heat ignites the white blooms of the Japanese Stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia) and Japanese Snowbell (Styrax japonicus). These flowering trees may be the same in color, but their floral forms are unique – one bears clusters of camellia-like flowers, while the other boasts hanging bundles of star-shaped flowers.
Look for Yellow Mariposa Lilies (Calochortus luteus) in the oak savanna. Endemic to California, these bowl-shaped yellow blooms perch on thin stems with sparse leaves hidden among the tall grasses. Look closely to find the beautiful petals speckled with rusty brown.
Executive Director, Scot Medbury Departing in April 2023
Sonoma Botanical Garden (SBG) announced today that Scot Medbury, the Garden’s executive director since 2020, will be moving on from the Garden in April 2023 to follow his spouse, who is furthering his career as an academic librarian in the Pacific Northwest. As SBG’s third director since the Garden’s founding in 1987, Medbury has provided vision and strategic leadership to further set the stage for a strong future for the Garden, accomplishing numerous governance, branding, and improvement projects over the past three years.
Medbury arrived at SBG just weeks before the global pandemic began in early 2020. Under his leadership, the Garden embarked on a series of deferred-maintenance projects on its 15 buildings, while also accomplishing multiple wildfire-preparedness measures. An institutional rebrand (SBG opened originally as Quarryhill Botanical Garden) was also introduced, and the new name was rolled out in March 2021 along with an enhanced mission: to cultivate and interpret the flora of California in addition to the Garden’s historic focus on Asian species. This fall, Medbury led SBG’s staff in opening the Garden’s California oak woodlands and in developing cool-season horticultural exhibitions within its large greenhouse. “From East to Zest,” SBG’s first indoor, botanical exhibition (focused on citrus), and a new California Oaks Trail opened early last month.
Remarks Jerry Newell, chair of SBG’s Board of Trustees: “Scot Medbury’s leadership and vision for Sonoma Botanical Garden has created the foundation for a stronger institution, with a focus on sustainability and accessibility. His horticultural background and deep interest in design have played a vital role in improving the Garden while strengthening a focus on its future. We wish him every success in the Pacific Northwest as we begin an exciting search for top talent to succeed him here in Sonoma.”
Says Medbury: “It has been a privilege and an honor to work alongside the trustees and staff of Sonoma Botanical Garden during a period of substantial change. The projects we have accomplished—particularly the rebranding of the institution and the expansion of its mission—will make the Garden more relevant, resilient, and welcoming to visitors for years to come.”
From East to Zest
On view November 5, 2022 – March 5. 2023
Visitors enjoy a big squeeze of color this winter as Sonoma Botanical Garden transforms its greenhouse into a cornucopia of living citrus trees in fruit. The Garden kicks off its brand-new special exhibition program with a first-time indoor botanical display, From East to Zest, an original, living exhibition illustrating citrus’ colorful journey across the globe. Immersed in fragrance and color, visitors learn fun facts as they stroll, from the myth of the Meyer Lemon to the cause of the Grapefruit Effect.
Virtually all citrus originated in Southeast Asia, yet today are thoroughly ingrained in the cuisines and cultures of the Americas. Imagine Peruvian food without lemons, or Mexican cuisine without limes!
Thousands of years of citrus cultivar selection and breeding has produced a vast trove of little-known, yet distinct citrus including such culinary treats as the Yuzu, beloved of chefs everywhere today, or the Sudachi, from which ponzu braising sauce is made. Bizarre forms, like the Buddha’s Hand citron, or unusual hybrids like Limequats and Mandarinquats, add to the fascinating range of citrus grown in California today. These zesty delights have travelled far from their historic ranges and new DNA evidence is changing how botanists think about this tangled floral family.
Opens November 5, 2022
The Garden’s fascinating, new California Trail leads visitors through the property’s southernmost section, a 22-acre California native oak savanna adjacent to its historic Asian woodland.
The California property was added to the Garden in 1998 and is remarkable for its oak woodland and oak savanna plant communities. Visitors will be invited to enjoy and observe as Garden staff employ ecological-restoration techniques over the next several years to create space for the existing native seedbank to germinate and establish populations throughout the ecosystem. Near structures and in more disturbed areas, rare and unique California native plants will be planted to highlight sustainable, habitat-focused, and ecologically conscious garden practices.
In addition to new plantings and an extension of the overall woodland experience, the trail provides a more accessible route to the heart of the Asian garden. With no more than a 5% grade, the .4 mi trail follows the natural topography of the California section to lead guests up to the Asian garden, thereby expanding access for all.
To mark the new trail’s opening, the Garden’s Board of Directors ceremonially planted a Catalina Island Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus traskiae), arguably the rarest shrub in North America. This rare woody perennial is native to one isolated gully on the south side of Catalina Island, off the coast of southern California. It is estimated that fewer than 15 trees remain in the wild. Since its founding, the Garden has been a sanctuary for rare plants from temperate East Asia and it is delighted to take the first steps on the path to cultivating and displaying some of California’s rare and unique biodiversity.
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