Happy Habitats & Heritage


Glen Ellen | Sprawling Hillside Garden

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Imagine hundreds of roses — huge ramblers, rare species, glorious gallicas, charming Chinas, teas, hybrids of many kinds — interplanted with salvias, lilies, gladiolus, dozens of other colorful and fragrant species, all in a sloping setting on the side of Sonoma mountain with views of the valley.  Fruit and olive trees provide texture and shade.

Climbing higher in this one-acre botanical delight, find increasingly drought-tolerant and native species, over a hundred in all, mixed together for harmonious textures and shades.  Near the top even more drought-resistant plants merge into the natural hillside of oak woodland, now interspersed with young olive trees.  Baby oaks have gained a foothold, planted in the past few years from acorns.  Garden sculpture mingles with dramatic plantings.

Margaret Spaulding began work on her Glen Ellen garden in 2001. It has emerged as a result of planning, experiment, love, and surprises.  It’s a sprawling, country-scale place, not neatly manicured but full of color, texture and scent. Birds and bugs seem to enjoy the habitat designed for them.

More than 20,000 gallons of stored rainwater supplement groundwater for irrigation. Margaret waters by hand rather than using an automatic system, allowing her to tend each plant and to judge individual requirements.

Plants include, besides Roses, many Salvias, Eriogonum (native buckwheat), Epilobium (California fuchsia), Buddleia, Tagetes limmonii (Copper Canyon Daisy), Artemesias, Agaves, Dahlias, Dianthus and Gladiolus.

Plant List

Some of the key plants in this garden for this time of year are listed below. You can also download a printable plant list for this garden that lists the majority of the native plants as well as some non-natives and a few of the roses.

  1. Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum)
  2. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  3. California Buckeye (Aesculus californica)
  4. Sunset Manzanita (Arctostaphylos ‘Sunset’)
  5. Pipevine (Aristolochia californica)
  6. California Sage (Artemisia californica)
  7. Showy Milkweed (Asclepia speciosa)
  8. Western Spice Bush (Calycanthus occidentalis)
  9. Western Redbud (Cercis occidentlalis)
  10. Soap Plant (Chlorogalum pomeridianum)
  11. Virgin’s Bower (Clematis ligusticifolia)
  12. California Fuchsia (Epilobium ‘Calistoga’)
  13. St Catherine’S Lace (Eriogonum giganteum)
  14. Ken Taylor Flannelbush (Fremontodendron ‘Ken Taylor’ )
  15. Silk Tassel (Garrya elleptica ‘Evie’ )
  16. Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia)
  17. Creambush (Holodiscus discolor)
  18. Sticky Monkey Flower (Mimulus arantiacus)
  19. Pacific Wax Myrtle (Morella californica)
  20. Western Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewesii ‘Marjorie Schmidt’)
  21. Holly Leaf Cherry (Prunus ilicifolia)
  22. Lemonade Berry (Rhus integrifolia)
  23. Golden Current (Ribes aureum)
  24. Catalina Perfume (Ribes viburnifolium)
  25. Sage (Salvia clevelandii ‘Allen Chickering’, S.c. ‘Winnifred Gilman’, S. sonomensisS. spathacea)
  26. Blue Elderberry (Sambucus (mexicana) nigra ssp. caerulea)
  27. Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium bellum)
  28. Purple Needle Grass (Stipa pulchra)
  29. California Grape (Vitus californica ‘Rogers Red’)

Parking & Access

This garden is accessed via a gravel road and includes steep, uneven terrain, and narrow pathways. Low-heeled shoes are mandatory for safety reasons.

Russian River Friendly Landscaping Principles and Practices

Conserve Energy

The need to conserve energy is as important to Russian River-Friendly landscaping as the need to conserve water. Both are increasing concerns in California as energy shortfalls and droughts continue to occur throughout the West. Energy and water are related — it takes a lot of energy to supply water to our landscapes.

Russian River FLG LogoConventional landscapes also directly consume large amounts of fossil fuels. Nationally, forty million lawnmowers consume 200 million gallons of gasoline per year, representing a huge investment of energy for this one landscape maintenance task. What’s more, the US EPA estimates that the few ounces spilled during each refueling of lawn and other garden equipment — during the summer only — totals 17 million gallons of gasoline nationwide. And energy use means releasing greenhouse gases that are contributing to global warming.

Landscape designers, installers and professional maintenance staff can play an important role in conserving energy. Include these Russian River-Friendly, energy conserving practices in your design or service program:

  1. Shade buildings to moderate temperatures
  2. Reduce the heat island effect
  3. Shade air conditioners
  4. Design lighting carefully
  5. Choose and maintain equipment for fuel conservation
  6. Specify low embodied energy materials