New name, expanded mission for Quarryhill Botanical Garden – Marin Independent Journal


Since 1987, when Jane Davenport Jansen dedicated 25 hillside acres – a former quarry – of her Glen Ellen property in Sonoma to the conservation of Asian plants, the site has been known as the Quarryhill Botanical Garden.

Over the years it has evolved into a landscape of over 25,000 special plants ranging from roses and rhododendrons to magnolias, dogwoods and maples, including the very rare Acer pentaphyllum, a maple tree on the brink of extinction. .

Quarryhill has since established itself as an important institution, ranking among the best botanical gardens in the world, and is recognized for the breadth and diversity of its collections of magnolias and maples.

This week, Quarryhill Botanical Garden officially changed its name and expanded its mission. Now called the Sonoma Botanical Garden, the 67-acre property will continue to conserve rare Asian specimens, but will also champion the preservation of native California plants.

These two important changes follow the hiring of executive director Scot Medbury last year, the successor to the garden’s original executive director, William McNamara, who retired in 2019.

Photo by Mark Hullinger

A springtime waterfall at Sonoma Botanical Garden by Glen Ellen, the new name for Quarryhilll Botanical Garden.

Medbury, who recently served as president of Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York for 15 years, previously served as director of the San Francisco Botanical Garden and the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park.

Quarryhill’s fascinating story began with Jansen, a San Francisco resident and heir to the south-based fast food company Krystal, who used Glen Ellen’s house and pool as a refuge for herself and his many friends in the city.

But, she was also “keen to support collaborative efforts with partners in the UK to cultivate rare Asian plants,” Medbury said. In the mid-1980s, he says, China had just opened up its country to Western collectors.

So Jansen dedicated part of his property to the propagation and cultivation of seeds collected from the wild in remote parts of Asia and personally subscribed to 15 garden seed conservation expeditions there.

Quarryhill has also sponsored fundraising events including several fabulous house and garden tours, interesting lectures, and a visit from Lord Charles Howick, who also started collecting seeds in the wild in the 1980s, many of them of Asia, for its 65-acre Howick Hall arboretum. In England.

Going forward, says Medbury, the Sonoma Botanical Garden will focus “on re-propagating and strengthening our collections of the most endangered species currently in the collection.” Future expeditions, he said, “will be explored in partnership with other institutions and will prioritize endangered species as opposed to more general collection.”

Medbury will also devote much of its attention to the development of the new section of native California plants.

It is envisioned as a vegetal walk along 23 acres of a natural patch of California oaks, savannah, and chaparral landscape that already exists at the site.

While the exact plant specimens are yet to be determined, Medbury expects to “focus on native North Bay cultivars and also feature some of California’s most endangered woody plants as an educational exhibit at the conversation “.

This will “allow the garden to engage our community in local conservation issues, and also participate in statewide plant conservation initiatives,” he said.

Courtesy of Sonoma Botanical Garden

Quarryhill Botanical, now called Sonoma Botanical Garden, was founded for the purpose of propagating seeds collected from the wild in Asia.

In the meantime, visitors are welcome to tour the garden, enjoy the spring flowers on self-guided tours, bring a picnic, or purchase home and garden items from the gift shop.

• Details: Self-guided tours of the Sonoma Botanical Garden run daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Tuesdays when closed, at 12841 Sonoma Highway in Glen Ellen. Admission is $ 12 with discounts for seniors, students, serving military personnel, and children; free for garden members and children 12 and under. For more information, call 707-996-3166 and visit Wheelchair accessibility is limited.

Show off

With so many popular home visits off the calendar this year, consider this an invitation to share with other readers the pictures and description of your newly designed or renovated Marin garden or home.

Please send an email describing one or the other, what you like the most and a photo or two. I will post the best in the next columns. Your name will be published and you must be over 18 and reside in Le Marin.

Event not to be missed

• Geranium sprouts, vegetable plants, organic flower bouquets, planters, jewelry, cross stitch sets, original paintings and ceramics by local artists and other items will be on sale at the event. ephemeral spring equinox market and sale of plants from 10 am to 3 pm on Saturdays at the Marin Art and Garden Center at 30, boul. Sir Francis Drake. to Ross.

For an item overview or to purchase online, visit Call 415-455-5260. Credit cards only.

PJ Bremier writes every Saturday on topics related to home, garden, design and entertainment. She can be contacted at PO Box 412, Kentfield 94914, or at

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