Spring in Bloom
Visiting the Garden is a different experience – every season, every time, for everyone.
2023 is a good year to be a plant in California! After heavy winter rains, the Garden is expecting a particularly vibrant spring bloom in the 25-acre Asian Woodland and a riot of wildflowers on the newly opened California Oaks Trail.
Blooms and seasonal features are always weather dependent. Scroll to explore some of this season’s stars and typical start of their bloom times. For the most up-to-date information, follow us on Facebook and Instagram and share your tips and photos from your Garden adventures with #SonomaBGBloom.
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 the 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.
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.
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.