Happy Habitats & Heritage


Glen Ellen | Sprawling Hillside Garden

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Garden features:

  • Heritage rose garden.
  • California native plants.
  • Terracing and erosion control.
  • Rainwater harvesting.

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.

The wild fire raced through the oaks and grasses; fire fighters saved the house and garden; now, new young oaks, manzanitas, grasses and other natives contribute to the rejuvenation, making this a laboratory of recovery.

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.

A printable plant list is available to download for this garden that lists the majority of the native plants as well as some non-natives and a few of the roses.

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

Garden Sense – Free Onsite Gardening Advice

Garden Sense is a free program for Sonoma County residents who want to learn how they can save water in their own garden. Garden Sense consultants are Sonoma County Master Gardeners who have advanced training in water management, irrigation systems, site assessment, low-water use plants, and sustainable garden practices.
While visiting your garden, Garden Sense Consultants will provide:

  • How-to information about lawn conversion
  • How-to information about converting your sprinklers to drip irrigation
  • Suggestions of low water-use plants that match your site conditions
  • A basic site-specific sketch that addresses your functional needs
  • An assessment of your existing irrigation
  • General information and tips to help make your garden more sustainable

Make an appointment today! Visit sonomamg.ucanr.edu  or call (707) 565-3026.