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Presentation Topics:

Secret GardenWalks: Europe
Wine Country Gardens
21st Century Gardens
Great Gardens/Great Plants

Botanical Gardens

In The Valley of the Moon: Quarryhill

Lilium leichtlinii var. maximowiczii (Photo: Christine Walker)

A botanical profusion of rare and endangered Asian species thrives in the naturalistic setting of Quarryhill Botanical Garden near Glen Ellen, in Northern California wine country. The lily pictured is but one among many: Continuing all through spring, summer and into the fall, collections of lilies from China and Japan offer colorful effects and scented displays.

Rain drops on lilly pads (Photo: Quarryhill Botanical Garden)


Originally the weekend home of benefactor and founder Jane Davenport Jansen, Quarryhill is located squarely within Sonoma County’s bucolic Valley of the Moon, where it spans some 60 acres. One-third of the terrain currently supports a unique woodland environment devoted to collections of plants from the temperate regions of China, Japan and the Himalayas. With more than 90 percent of the flora grown from wild-collected, scientifically documented seed, the collections have proven to be significant in North America.
Autumn at Quarryhill: Christine Walker Photo

A sturdy arbor partly encircled by a dry rock wall marks the gathering point for tours.

As the only formal element in the garden plan, the wooden structure stands out amid a rolling landscape of densely planted hillsides, large pools formed by a winter stream and smaller ponds created from old quarries that endow the property with its name.

Photo: Christine Walker – Valley of the Moon Vista

Though Quarryhill draws professionals from around the globe, it also invites the amateur naturalist, plant lover or keen gardener to come and learn about Asian plant life. Visitors who take part in a Quarryhill tour conclude their experience upon reaching the final high point of the garden, marked by a mound of rocks adorned with Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags.

Gazing out at the spectacular view from this overlook, the garden’s director, Bill McNamara offers a thoughtful comment: “Usually botanical gardens end up being on flat land as an afterthought, but here we have these wonderful contours … you get great vistas and textures.”

Link to Quarryhill ….should you like to visit or to become a member.

4 comments to Valley of the Moon: Quarryhill Botanical Garden

  • Dear Alice, Just as I think that there are Sissinghurst gardeners and Great Dixter gardeners in England [I am most firmly in the former category], I think that there are Botanical Garden enthusiasts and those who are less keen. I am afraid that in the Botanical Garden class I am distinctly in the latter category. Of course, I applaud the fact that they are keepers of the world’s plant heritage but I just cannot enthuse about them. As this one is situated in Wine Country….there may just be something for me after all!!

  • Some years ago, when I still worked in a suit in the City, we used to spend most of our weekends at a friend’s cabin in Glen Ellen. I thought I knew that area really well, but somehow this Botanic Garden escaped my notice! Not sure how I missed 60 acres. We’ll definitely have to visit next time we’re out that way.

  • Alice – if I were you I would be scared, scared that this crazy Irish girl was going to come live with me forever and ever, arriving someday – no particular day – just ‘someday’! I’m keeping you on your toes -hehehe I LOVE THIS BLOG!

  • Hi Alice, this botanical garden looks very distinctive and very wonderful. I am surprised to read Edith’s comment that she is not keen on botanical gardens. I love looking at all kinds of gardens and botanical gardens are wonderful public spaces. One of my plans for things to do before I die is to visit and photograph as many as possible. cheers, catmint