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.

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. A small, dedicated group of volunteers helps maintain this charming space.

Current and prospective MGS members are welcome to contact the General Secretary by email.

The photo at the top of this page is of a private garden near Sonoma, California as seen during a visit by the Northern California Branch. 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.

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

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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

THE MEDITERRANEAN GARDEN is the registered trademark of The Mediterranean Garden Society in the European Union, Australia, and the United States of America

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