Here is a list of some of the additions to the garden that help us advance toward our goals:
“Big House” Renovation—The iconic house from the ’60s had become unusable and was rebuilt in 2015 as a private residence. Our architect (Jon Stong), and builder (Ron Santos) were able to preserve much of the feel of the house while meeting strict County permitting requirements.
Ponds, Runnels, and Waterfalls—Early on, the overrun pond in front of the Octogon house was restored and a creek with waterfall added by Paul Swanson. In 2015, a pond at the northeast corner of the garden was enlarged and a waterfall added. Large sections of the runnels were also rebuilt in anticipation of El Niño. A waterfall was created at the top of the big pond, as well as a new bubbler.
Bridges—We have rebuilt five bridges. The new bridge over the waterfall, by Paul Duncan, has become a nice focal point at the pond. The most recent, in 2015, was made possible by a donation from the Diablo Women’s Garden Club.
Australian Collection—We have been actively replanting the Australian area, which was disturbed by the renovation of the Big House, since 2015. The garden features Banksia, Grevillea, and other species, including some from the UC Santa Cruz collection, Cistus Nursery, and Suncrest Nursery.
Wollemi Pine—An endangered Wollemi Pine was added to our collection in 2011, and we added a companion in 2012. The Wollemi was called the “Botanical Find of the Century” and a “living fossil” when it was discovered in a remote gorge in Australia in 1994. See the website of Wollemi Australia.
Pitkin Marsh Lily—We continue to propagate Pitkin Marsh Lilies (Lilium pardalinum, subsp. pitkinense), an endangered perennial herb that is endemic to certain wetland areas of the northern Coast Ranges of Sonoma County. See the U.S. Fish and Wildlife profile.
Event Space—The event space, designed by Sean Hogan and built by Matt Driscoll, was completed early in 2013 and has become a gathering place to sit and enjoy the view. Several events have been held, including birthday parties and small conferences. Landscaping included interesting new cultivars from Cistus Nursery.
Sequoia Sempervirens ‘Yurok Prince’—The American Conifer Society gifted Western Hills a new redwood cultivar in 2013. It is one of a few specimens of a low-growing, horizontal-branching shrub recently found in Oregon. See “the rest of the story.”
Western Hills Garden, 16250 Coleman Valley Road, Occidental CA 95465