We want to thank members, volunteers, garden clubs, and visitors for their support of the garden over the last decade. With your help, we tackled significant improvement projects to restore the garden. We couldn’t have made the progress out of foreclosure without community support.
Of course, now is a very challenging time for everyone. We closed the garden to the public for restoration at the beginning of 2020. Our intent was to continue hosting garden clubs and our members, but the Covid-19 pandemic changed everything. We complied with the Sonoma County shutdown orders and only recently began allowing our volunteers into the garden with safe social distancing.
We don’t really expect much to change for the remainder of the year in terms of visitors — we have already had some garden club cancellations. We are making “lemonade out of lemons” by concentrating on our restoration projects.
The following is a quick summary of our restoration projects as of 2020.
Outbuildings: Windows and doors were replaced in the Octagon and Office by local builder Ron Santos. Termite damage repairs on the entry gate and gazebo are underway.
Dry Perennial Border: A neighbor’s 80-foot oak tree fell into the dry border in the lower garden, doing some damage, but sparing the Puyas. Replacements are mostly unusual salvias and more Puyas from Annie’s Annuals, with some interesting cultivars from Cistus Nursery.
Meadow: We commissioned a local landscaper (Mary Zovich) to redesign the “meadow”, which had been overlooked for years. A nice wrought iron gazebo was brought in to complement a playful planting of edibles – including Blueberries. We also finally fixed some of the drainage issues and put in a retaining wall and rockery.
Upper Trail: A neighbor’s 150-foot Douglas fir fell on the upper trail, taking out the fence. Luckily, there was not much planted up there. The Rimu tree saw minor damage, and some Rhodies were damaged, but not too bad, considering. We have replaced with small conifers and expanded the existing Australian collection. The fence was repaired and a drip line and new controller installed.
Bottom of Garden: The neglected bottom corner of the garden is being replanted, mostly with California natives, and a solar-powered pump will provide a waterfall in a small creek.
Bridges: Several rotten bridges were replaced and non-slip surfaces added.
All this activity follows the garden’s very successful 60th anniversary celebration last year and coincides with our decade of ownership. Even in these tough times, the garden is a source of solace. We look forward to sharing the garden into a bright future.
Tim and Chris Szybalski
Western Hills Garden
Western Hills Garden, 16250 Coleman Valley Road, Occidental CA 95465