5 Beautiful Flower Farms and Gardens to Visit in Sonoma, CA
What do you do when you’re visiting a wine region but don’t want to start drinking at 9am? You visit flower farms.
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VVisiting vineyards is obviously a key attraction on a trip to wine country, but even the most enthusiastic drinker or oenophile can’t drink that much in a day. And not everyone in your group may be interested in wine. Also, tasting is not really a morning activity. You need other options. In Sonoma County, home to more than 425 wineries (more than any other county in California), an alternative is to visit a flower farm.
No matter what time of year you visit, there are plenty to choose from, so you can enjoy the sights and scents of the ‘flower baths’. Being surrounded by natural beauty outdoors can be as relaxing as a glass of pinot noir.
Poppies and Petals Farm
Just west of Santa Rosa, this small flower farm was launched in 2021. For a fixed price, you can select as many flowers as you can fit in a vase in an hour. It’s fun to U-pik-’em. Dahlias, lilies, lisianthus, sunflowers, celosia, cosmos, zinnias, marigolds – in a range of varieties and colors – are among the many offerings. You will also come across several “what is this?” plants with unfamiliar but attractive flowers. This is an example where too much choice is a good thing. Be sure to reserve your time in advance. (Cutting appointments are only available in the morning.) All you have to do to pretend to be a florist is bring your own vase to carry your personal bouquet home.
Open from May to October ; one hour cutting appointment $45; poppiesandpetalsfarm.com
Monte Bellaria of California
Your experience at this lavender farm near Sevastopol will vary depending on when you visit. The plants – which roll down the hill in rows – will be at their peak from late June through July, but to maximize scent, aim for August. Because the ground is only open on weekends and hourly tickets limit attendance, book your tickets (75 minutes, $10-$20) well in advance for the summer. You can also explore the lavender field for free in spring and autumn; check with the farm to see if you need an appointment for such visits.
The farmhouse, conveniently located on Bloomfield Road, is a serene oasis. Unlike Poppies & Petals, picking flowers here is prohibited. Instead, take home a few Monte-Bellaria products – the moisturizing balm and soap, for example, use the estate’s olive oil, lavender essential oil and beeswax – for a refresher. fragrant with your stay in this quiet place. And her website features mouth-watering recipes that incorporate lavender into desserts, drinks, and savory vegetable dishes.
Open from April to November; prices vary according to season; montebellaria.com
Happy Dahlia Farm
The aptly named flower farm east of Petaluma has a short but very colorful season, from around late August to mid-October. On weekends, you can browse the rows that feature dahlias for free. You will see single, multi-colored, even speckled, flowers of types such as orchid, cactus, pom-pom, peony, and ball. The farm cultivates more than 100 varieties among its more than 7,000 plants. The largest are called “decorative” dahlias; a single flower can brighten up a room. You can also buy dahlias by stem to take home. (Warning: it’s not easy to decide.)
Open August-October (check with farm for exact weeks); no tour fees; flowers for sale are priced by size; thehappydahliafarm.com
Garden Valley Ranch
A few miles northwest of Petaluma, this rose garden is a popular spot for weddings and other festive celebrations. On its five acres, thousands of roses bloom from May to October. You can also arrange a picnic and flower picking experience and cut a bucket of flowers (perfect for a party), or just call ahead and ask if you can walk the grounds, dotted with apple trees, fountains, gazebos and a koi pond, free of charge.
Open weekends from May to October; $90 for flower search + picnic; gardenvalley.com
Sonoma Botanical Garden
Known as Quarryhill for approximately 30 years, this 67-acre garden is located just north of Glen Ellen and less than 10 miles from the city of Sonoma. The emphasis here is less on the flowers and more on the conservation of endangered wild plants, especially rare Asian trees. But with its 2021 name change, the garden is also expanding its diversity to include plants native to California. Depending on when you visit, you may see flowering trees and bushes, including magnolias, camellias, and rhododendrons. You can explore the gently rolling trails on your own with an informative visitor map/brochure or join a docent-led tour. It also has a gift shop that gardeners will appreciate. As the Sonoma Botanical Garden notes, there’s more to Sonoma Valley than just vineyards.
Open every day all year except Tuesday, from 9am to 4pm; $12 for adults; sonomabg.org
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