Quarryhill Botanical Garden, Glen Ellen

4.2
#8 of 23 in Things to do in Glen Ellen
Garden · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
Quarryhill Botanical Garden is an education and research botanical garden home to one of the largest collections of scientifically documented, wild-source Asian plants in North America and Europe, many of which represent ancestors of horticultural favorites found throughout the western world. Quarryhill is located near Glen Ellen, in the Sonoma Valley of California, United States, and is open to the public.

This is not your typical botanical garden. There are no expanses of lawn or neat hedges enclosing specimen plants, no sculpted shrubs. Quarryhill is a wild Asian woodland garden—not manicured, but rather is minimally pruned to create an intentional natural feeling. No fertilizing is done, and little shaping—just enough to keep the trails and paths clear. It's the closest that most people will come to visiting the wilds of Asia.

Quarryhill is internationally recognized as home to one of the largest collections of scientifically documented, wild-sourced Asian plants in the Western World. Ancestors of garden favorites like roses, camellias and rhododendrons, magnolias, and lilies, create a living museum of temperate Asian plants, all the more remarkable given that the majority of plants were started from wild-collected seed and none were planted in the ground before 1990.
The garden is devoted to plants from temperate China, Japan and the Himalayas, with more than 90 percent grown from wild-collected, scientifically documented seed. The collection includes rare varieties such as Acer pentaphyllum, Cornus capitata, Holboellia coriacea, Illicium simonsii, and Rosa chinensis var. spontanea, all native to Sichuan, as well as extensive collections of various wild Asian dogwoods, lilies, magnolias, maples, oaks, roses, and rhododendrons.

Quarryhill can be traced back to 1968, when San Francisco resident Jane Davenport Jansen purchased 61 acres (247,000 m²) for a summer home and vineyards. In 1987, she started a garden on 25 acres (100,000 m2) of this property, among hillsides consisting of old rock quarries. In that year, Quarryhill representatives made their first seed collecting expedition to Asia. A nursery was established in 1988, and planting began in 1990. The garden was her personal sanctuary as well as the joy of her life.

Jansen appointed William A. McNamara Director in 1994 and he became Executive Director in 2007. The efforts of McNamara and Quarryhilll’s staff and volunteers, who help propagate, plant and maintain the garden, have created a spectacular Asian Forest containing plants that are almost extinct in the wild. Preserving these threatened species is at the cornerstone of Quarryhill’s philosophy.

Annual Quarryhill expeditions have collected seeds and herbarium specimens from the following Asian regions to date: China - Hubei, Sichuan, Taiwan, Tibet, Yunnan; India - Himachal Pradesh; Japan - Hokkaidō, Honshū, Kyūshū, Shikoku, Yakushima; and Nepal. Other expeditions have collected from North America. The garden also receives wild collected seed courtesy of Index Seminum publications from Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, as well as Asian seed and plants from North American gardens.

Quarryhill selects their plants based on their rarity and conservation value, and has developed a searchable scientific database that allows them to share their research with other leading institutions. The garden's collection of approximately 25,000 wild origin plants, representing over 2,000 individual species, provides a repository for plant preservation, or, as McNamara describes it, “a Noah’s ark of rare and endangered species.” Quarryhill provides plants, seeds, and information to botanic gardens, arboretums, researchers, conservationists, students, and the public throughout Europe, North America, and Japan.

From the remains of an abandoned quarry, Quarryhill Botanical Garden evolved. The 25-acre wild woodland garden has grown into a world-renowned botanical institution, providing other botanical gardens, arboreta, researchers, conservationists, students, and the visiting public with living examples of the beautiful and threatened temperate flora of East Asia. Quarryhill is not only a showcase for rare and beautiful plants, but also a place where education and conservation are at the heart of its mission and run as deep as the tranquil ponds and seasonal waterfalls that surround it. Entering its 31st year, Quarryhill Botanical Garden is one of the most exotic and biologically diverse places in Sonoma Valley.
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Quarryhill Botanical Garden reviews

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100 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • Lots of paths to cover with different plants around each corner. Well labeled plants which is helpful. History of roses in the parking area was interesting too.  more »
  • Very nice and unique gardens. Has a collection of mature plans from the Far East. Beautiful and very peaceful place. All of the plants are labeled so you can see what the mature plant looks like...  more »
Google
  • Absolutely stunning! To see varieties of trees from Japan! How they have recovered and nurtured rare trees. Amazing! Be prepared to walk ALOT, it is Cali so sunscreen,hat, water. Plenty of places and shade to sit. Very quiet here. Enjoy!
  • Beautiful natural surroundings with streams and waterfalls. Well kept. Water fountains along the paths. The paths are about half shade. Some incline/decline paths. Most flora are labeled.

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