Crystal Hermitage Garden

IMG_4085IMG_4146IMG_4134IMG_4127IMG_4135 I’m not one to rush seasons. There’s so much I do love about winter, but spring will be here before we know it, and, if you’re in the area, I don’t want you to miss this display that shouts SPRINGTIME! These photos were taken last April when my husband and I visited this jewel of a garden during their Springtime at Ananda weekends. Ananda Village is a spiritual community and retreat center outside of Nevada City in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Northern California. Within the Ananda Village is Crystal Hermitage Gardens, usually a peaceful sanctuary with paths to meander, graceful trees, stunning views, and terraced gardens. During two consecutive weekends in spring, when the gardens reach their peak of glory, Ananda Village hosts an event called Tulip Days. Last year over 6,000 visitors came to behold all of this beauty, hear music, and have a picnic lunch or tea and scones in Crystal Hermitage Gardens. It’s not a large garden, but every inch is planted with approximately 15,000 Dutch tulip bulbs annually. The weekend dates this year will be April 2-3, and April 9-10. Cost is $5. and children 12 and younger are free.

IMG_4119IMG_4101IMG_4094IMG_4138Last year was when we discovered this special place. It was a highlight of springtime for us, and we plan to make it back each year. Might you be there too?

“A garden is evidence of faith. It links us with all the misty figures of the past who also planted and were nourished by the fruits of their planting.” ~ Gladys Taber

Garden Glory at Maple Rock

Maple Rock Garden in Penryn, California is a private estate on thirty acres, only open to the public on special occasions a few times each year. I can’t write about Maple Rock without mentioning that Scott Paris, owner of High Hand Nursery in Loomis resides here.

High Hand Nursery is one of my absolute favorite destination nurseries (a little over an hour drive from my home) in any season. The nursery’s plants and trees are of exceptional quality and displayed so beautifully. I always come away with ideas for my own gardens, as well as treasures. If I’m going through a difficult time, I’ve found that wandering through the park like setting is just the tonic I need. I leave fully restored.

Four of the acres at Maple Rock are used for growing fruits and vegetables for High Hand Cafe’s seasonal dishes. If you go to the nursery plan to eat at the wonderful cafe. Everything I’ve tried is delicious. It’s always a busy place, though. Remember to make a reservation.

A few friends and I considered ourselves so fortunate to attend A Vintage Harvest, at Maple Rock Gardens, an event of antique vendors last weekend. Browsing the antiques, strolling the magnificent private garden and catching up with good friends – all the makings for a great day. Come along with us.IMG_6110IMG_6112 IMG_6113Love this idea. A shallow pot of succulents is set inside a hollowed out pumpkin and then a little moss is added.IMG_6115 IMG_6117 So much to see in the vendor section. And now, on to the gardens. We came across water features, meandering paths, formal gardens, and a wealth of inspiration with every step we took.IMG_6118 IMG_6119 IMG_6131I adore this sweet little bird house. We peeked inside the entrance hole and could see twigs and nest material. Wish we could’ve seen the birdhouse resident!
IMG_6135 Everywhere we turned were fantastic color combinations of foliage.IMG_6136 IMG_6137 IMG_6138 Don’t you just want to sit on that bench for awhile and take a deep breath?IMG_6142 IMG_6156 IMG_6157The property features one of the largest garden railroads in Northern California. Watching it just made me smile.IMG_6165 IMG_6144 IMG_6146 Did you see it?IMG_6149 IMG_6150 IMG_6151 IMG_6153Even with hundreds of people in attendance the gardens evoked such peace and tranquility. Thank you to Scott and Family. We were overwhelmed by the beauty.

Fairytale Town Fun


IMG_6032Fairytale Town in Sacramento has provided families great fun for over fifty years. This storybook park featuring live farm animals, gardens, and playgrounds, all beautifully maintained within two and a half acres, offers safe and unlimited enjoyment for all.

We brought our toddler aged grand children here to play a week ago and had such fun.

There are a number of gardens within the park, each one lovingly tended to. In Mr. McGregor’s Garden, Beatrix Potter’s long loved Tale of Peter Rabbit comes to life. The hands-on garden features raised beds full of seasonal vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers. What a great sensory experience! IMG_5945Child sized watering cans hanging from low hooks invite young ones to water the gardens.IMG_6031IMG_6034IMG_6033Further inside Mr. McGregor’s Garden is the Alphabet Garden. Each colorful letter of the alphabet sits alongside a plant that starts with that letter. Plants include annuals, perennials, shrubs and a few trees.IMG_5926IMG_5927IMG_5929IMG_5931IMG_5932Here is the plant list for the Alphabet Garden: Agapanthus, Bird of Paradise, Cherry Tree, Daphne, Escallonia, Feverfew, Geranium, Hummingbird Bush, Ice Plant, Jasmine, Kniphofia, Lamb’s Ear, Magnolia, Nandina, Orchid Rockrose, Pomegranate, Quince, Rose of Sharon, Sea Pink, Thyme, Umbrella Plant, Verbena, Wisteria, Xylosma, Yarrow, Zebra Grass.

What a delightful morning of wonder, magic and discovery we all had! Here’s to many more fun filled visits.

Note – Some of the photos in this post were downloaded from the website.

Sherwood Demonstration Garden

Opening day for the UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County, Sherwood Demonstration Gardens was October 3rd. The garden was the brainchild of long time Master Gardener, Bob Sherwood who broke ground in 2009, but sadly passed away before the completion of this incredible garden wonderland. I visited the garden on opening day, along with throngs of others and came away with a myriad of ideas and inspiration for my own irrigation, hardscape, structures, water features and garden beds.

Yesterday, under cloudy skies and cool temperatures, I went back to take in all the sights and scents of the sixteen themed gardens once again.
IMG_5971IMG_5975The ornamental grasses knocked my socks off! Just look at this color combination.IMG_5978IMG_6013 (1)The rose garden is built around a gorgeous white gazebo and has 4 arbor entrances to the rose beds arranged in a circle. Surprisingly, the roses are still putting on their spectacular show this late into October.IMG_5998IMG_5999IMG_6006IMG_6019IMG_6010IMG_5995IMG_5985It is truly a gift to have this garden masterpiece in our own backyard. Not only is it a work of art, but a work of love, dedication and appreciation of nature.

For details about the garden, as well as a wealth of information go to the El Dorado County Master Gardener’s website.

The Blessings of Friendship and Love

Once a month my Book Group friends and I gather at one of homes for a few hours of  discussion on books, current events, both happy and sad news, great restaurants, movies, theater, and so much more. Over dessert and drinks, we share life together. The ten women who make up this group of genuine friends are intelligent, caring, generous, kind, opinionated, and strong.

Over the last few years, two of our members have passed away, two have gone through divorces, there have been deaths of spouses and parents, health hardships, and we’ve all felt the immense joy of becoming  grandmothers. Through all of life’s moments we hold together, hugging, laughing, loving, crying, comforting and cheering each other on. Each year the bonds that connect us grow ever stronger.

Last night, another milestone event brought us all together again. Under twinkling lights in the gorgeous gardens at Boeger Winery, we celebrated and witnessed the true bliss and deep love between one of our members, Kathy, and her beloved Charlie as they exchanged vows. The evening was magical.

IMG_5421IMG_5422IMG_5420IMG_5438IMG_5436IMG_5448IMG_5426IMG_5441IMG_5443I am so grateful to have these phenomenal women in my life and I cherish our friendships. Here’s to our devoted friendships. Here’s to love, sweet love. Cheers!



Ironstone Vineyard




IMG_5305Today we set out to visit Calaveras Big Trees State Park in the town of Arnold, but when we arrived at the entrance gate we were turned away. Turns out we weren’t the only people thinking a visit to the park was a good idea. We, and all the others arriving when we did were told that the park was at capacity and we could come back at 3:00. Well, that wasn’t going to work for us and so away we drove, feeling disappointed. We decided that a stop and in the delightful town of Murphys on our way home was in order. With fabulous restaurants, art galleries, shops and wine tasting…what’s not to love? While in Murphys, we stopped at Ironstone Winery and walked the glorious garden trails.





IMG_5323We thoroughly enjoyed meandering along the trails, taking notice of the incredible beauty at every turn. Not a bad trade off at all; in fact, quite lovely.IMG_5322


IMG_5333 A wedding area! Isn’t it beautiful with all of the white impatiens and chairs against the gorgeous green background? IMG_5318


IMG_5336The grounds are planted with hundreds of azaleas and rhododendrons. Just imagine these trails in the spring when all of the blossoms are bursting. We’ll surely be back then to see that spectacular display! And in the meantime, we’ll try another day to visit Big Trees State Park.


The Gardens at Oakmont Senior Living










This summer my dad had the heart wrenching realization that it was time to move my step mom, who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease, into a memory care facility. He visited care homes that came highly recommended, and he made his choice of Oakmont Senior Living in Carmichael. Twelve days ago we moved her in.

The last few years have been challenging and emotional on all of the family, but especially on my dad, who was her loving primary caregiver. Through this atrocious illness, my father has lost his love, his best friend, and his companion through thick and thin for 45 years. It’s been a time of many lessons on tolerance, acceptance, unconditional love, and above all, patience, as we navigated through this journey.

I will have my second visit with her at the facility tomorrow and I will once again find comfort in the beautiful gardens at Oakmont, as I did last week. I will walk hand in hand with her out to the raised beds bursting with colorful blossoms and vines, herbs and vegetables, and ripening fruit. We will check to see if the sunflowers have opened from last week, and we may sample the cherry tomatoes. We’ll be on the lookout for hummingbirds visiting the salvia. And we’ll sit together in comfortable chairs listening to the wall fountain as it sings it’s peaceful lullaby to us.

Our hearts are burdened and battered, emotions are tender and fragile. My father, siblings and I, along with our loved ones are all bravely walking into waters unseen. But we know how to swim. We’ll do this together. And we’ll be okay.



U.C. Davis Arboretum

Always free and always open, the U.C. Davis arboretum boasts 100 acres of gardens along the banks of the old north channel of Putah Creek. As you walk, run or bicycle along the trails of the  three and a half mile loop, you’ll come across seventeen stunning garden collections and have ample opportunity for bird watching as well. Whether you’re strolling or moving at a fast pace, this jewel offers a wonderful chance to reconnect with nature.

Sunset magazine has included the U.C. Davis arboretum in the travel section on their website: Look for “15 beautiful botanical gardens: tour the west’s best blooming spaces from San Francisco to Salt Lake City.”

IMG_3509Here’s the shovel gateway arbor. An artist created this 16 foot tall gateway sculpture out of over 400 used shovels gathered from members of the community in 2013. IMG_3517











IMG_4002Recently I spent a lovely morning at this peaceful retreat with my parents. We strolled along the paths together, admiring everything and learning about the more unusual specimens through the well placed information markers. It was most definitely time well spent.


Charles Jensen Botanical Garden


IMG_3765Nestled back a bit, but still right on busy Fair Oaks Boulevard in Carmichael, California lies a three and a half acre peaceful refuge called Charles Jensen Botanical Garden. Originally created in 1958 and now lovingly maintained by volunteers, it is a hidden gem. Lush garden beds are full of rhododendrons, azaleas, hydrangeas, dogwoods, and other shade loving plants, and every year one of the beds is planted with masses of tulips to greet visitors upon arrival. Paths invite you to meander around the park and benches are thoughtfully placed throughout.

This time of year in early August, it’s a tranquil, shady oasis, a perfect spot for reflection while strolling the paths or sitting on a bench. Come March and April though, the garden transforms, donning dazzling spring finery while the seasonal creek babbles.

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In any season, it’s a sanctuary to behold.

San Luis Obisbo Children’s Garden

Not long ago I had the good fortune to be visiting one of my favorite cities, San Luis Obisbo, along the central California coast. While there, I spent a relaxing morning at the beautiful Botanical Garden. It’s true, that during my travels, looking for interesting gardens to visit is always high on my priority list, but because of my background in the child development field, it’s impossible for me to hide my excitement when I come across a thoughtfully and well designed children’s garden, such as this. I loved strolling through the botanical gardens, but this was a surprise bonus!


I wandered alone with a big smile on my face, wishing I had a couple of little ones with me to explore the alphabet soup garden, kitchen garden, the sensory garden, the herb spiral garden, and more.


Look at the tree stumps painted to look like toad stools!


A tree with low branches and even an invitation to climb. What child could possibly resist?


This little fort is called the Oak Den Hideaway.


Around the bend, I came across the Zoo Garden planted with Monkey Paws, Cat Mint, Lion’s Tail, etc.


Oh, look at this Dig It Garden and all the tools!



Why, there’s even a worm box to learn about vermiculture!


Here’s the sensory garden. How many colors can you find? Can you find a plant that is fuzzy? How does that leaf smell? Can you describe the way lemon balm tastes? Oh, and listen… do you hear the birds overhead? It’s all here.IMG_3702

The entire garden is made up of useful and edible plants.IMG_3701Well, it goes without saying that this enchanting hands-on environment was created by people who know children very well. What a delightfully fun space for children to explore and experience nature and gardening!