Mediterranean Garden Society

The Northern California Branch of the MGS

The Northern California Branch of the MGS is part of an international forum devoted to furthering knowledge and appreciation of plants and gardens suited to the mediterranean climate regions of the world. All members of the MGS are welcome to attend our activities and to receive the newsletter that we publish three times per year.

The Mediterranean Garden at Lake Merritt in Oakland, in the collection of specialty gardens that surround the Oakland-East Bay Garden Center, is a little gem. It is centered around a classical white marble well-head that was a gift to the City of Oakland from philanthropist and bird-lover Nettie Stone Easterbrook 100 years ago. We have a small, dedicated group of volunteers that helps maintain this charming space, but there’s always room for others to join us!

Our Branch Head is Jean-Pierre Bouchez and current and prospective MGS members are welcome to contact him by email. You can follow our activities and news on Facebook and on the Northern California Branch website.

Executive Committee
Jean-Pierre Bouchez, LaVonne Bouchez, Richard Tiede, Cheryl Renshaw, Nancy Swearengen, Judy Thomas.

Advisory Board 
Russ Beatty, Tricia Christopher, Anthony Garza, Katherine Greenberg, Chris Jacobsen, Seán O'Hara, Warren Roberts, Bernard Trainor, Richard Turner.

The photo at the top of this page is of Quinta Fay, a historic ranch home in Gustine, California as seen during a visit by the Northern California Branch.

For previous reports and articles please check out the archived (non-responsive) Northern California Branch page.

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Forthcoming Events

Lake Merritt Mediterranean Garden
Upcoming workdays - 6 July, 3 August, 7 September, 5 October
The Mediterranean Garden at Lake Merritt in Oakland, in the collection of specialty gardens that surround the Oakland-East Bay Garden Center, is a little gem. There is a small, dedicated group of volunteers that helps maintain this charming space, but there’s always room for more! Everyone, especially MGS members, is invited to come tease weeds and snip unruly shrubbery, gossip with fellow Mediterranean plant nuts, and cement our presence in this magical urban place. It’s a fine place to visit once a month, on the first Saturday - to garden! For information, please contact Nancy Swearengen or phone her on 510-547-2548.

17 to 20 October - Athens, Greece
MGS Annual General Meeting
The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Society is scheduled in Athens on 20 October at 10:00 a.m. The main program will occur from 17 October through 20 October. Details are available in the The Mediterranean Garden (TMG) Journal 96 and on this website. Online registration will start on 10 May. In the TMG you will not only find the relevant information to register for the AGM but also additionally for the optional pre- and post- tours. The Corfu tour is 12 to 15 October and a block of rooms has been reserved for four nights at the Cavalieri hotel to allow participants to travel to Athens on 16 October. Please check for latest details and prices, which may vary slightly from those in the TMG. Following the AGM, a tour of the Pelion peninsula is planned from 21 to 24 October. Both of these tours have a limited number of spaces and you are encouraged to make your reservation as soon as possible after 10 May.

Past Events 

June 2019
Sonoma Tour

A special private visit to this extraordinary place. Quarryhill Botanical Garden was created from nothing on the site of an old quarry just outside Glen Ellen. Quarryhill is an Asian woodland garden established in 1990. Most of the plants have been collected by Executive Director Bill McNamara and his staff on annual expeditions to China, Japan and the Himalayas. While the plants are obviously not Mediterranean, they are doing very well in the mediterranean climes of the Sonoma Valley, so that was our “excuse” for this visit.

Some of our group about to tour Quarryhill

Quarryhill pond

Dead trees from the Nuns Fire seen through the Tibetan prayer flags at the top of Quarry Hill. The fire stopped at the fences (probably due to the irrigated plants)

Half of the group at Quarry Hill

This was followed by a visit to a fabulous private garden just south of Sonoma. Designed by Thomas Church and completed in 1948, today the garden is a Modernist icon and one of the best preserved examples of its time.

Approach to the house

Shady courtyard

Right out of Sunset!

It is famous for its unusual, abstracted forms, particularly the pool.

The kidney-shaped pool with its Adaline Kent sculpture

The floating deck, designed with a checkerboard of wooden boards that preserved existing trees while extending the outdoor living space

Wide view of the pool

We made a final stop at Cornerstone. Cornerstone Gardens are an ever-changing series of gardens, showcasing innovative designs from international and local landscape architects and designers. We concluded with a tasting/shopping stop at Jacuzzi Vineyards and The Olive Press.

Text: Cheryl Renshaw, Photos: Cheryl Renshaw

February 2019
UCSC Arboretum Tour

Our Northern California MGS group had a fabulous tour of the Santa Cruz Arboretum on 9 February. Our tour leaders were the arboretum’s Nursery Manager Martin Grantham and Executive Director Martin Quigley.

LaVonne Bouchez talking with Martin Grantham in foreground

Martin Quiglet gestures toward a Banksia

We were treated to views of the greenhouse plants, learned about the latest projects in preparation for their April plant sale, and toured the grounds to see some of the Australian and New Zealand plantings, which are very impressive.

Judy Thomas in front of the artistic bench in the South African section

Judy Thomas in middle of the arboretum

The occasional rain showers gave us the best possible light for photographs.

All the wet ducks in a row

This arboretum is located on the U.C. Santa Cruz campus, on a large property in the hills above the Pacific Ocean. Its climate is ideal for growing plants from regions of the world requiring good drainage and mild conditions. Some featured plants include silver trees (Leucadendron argenteum), Casuarinas, many Australian and New Zealand tree species, Ericas, many Proteaceous species including some fabulous groundcover Grevilleas, and countless succulents and cacti.



Banksia spinulosa Birthday Candles

Banksia with cool seed pods

Martin G. described some of his recent propagation efforts and conveyed the passion that he feels for the work they are doing at the arboretum. This site is worth a visit if you are ever in the area.

UCSC South Africa section

Text: Judy Thomas, Photos: Cheryl Renshaw

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