Where to “Stop and Smell the Roses” in Northern California

Photo by David Laws

Exploring publicly accessible gardens from Monterey to Mendocino

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While they don’t always feature roses, this itinerary describes places to relax and enjoy the some of the finest publicly accessible gardens in Northern California.  It features gardens from Monterey north to Mendocino County.

Be sure to plan your itinerary to allow for dense traffic conditions in the San Francisco Bay Area.

For gardens from San Luis Obispo south  to San Diego, including Los Angeles, see the Southern California Gardens itinerary.

Click on the red POI (point of interest) links for more information on each location.

Monterey Bay Area

Secluded walled gardens around Spanish-era historic adobe buildings in Monterey State Historic Park are called the “Secret Gardens of Old Monterey.”

Gardens along the coast enjoy an almost frost-free temperate climate. This allows the U.C. Santa Cruz Arboretum to focus on Mediterranean climate plants with a strong orientation to Antipodean species.

San Francisco Bay Area, including Silicon Valley

Historic hillside Hakone Gardens, Saratoga is one of several Japanese-style settings in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The Municipal and Heritage Rose Gardens in San Jose are two of the largest devoted to roses in the region.

With one of America’s finest private estate gardens the Filoli Center is located  on a 654-acre estate at the foot of the western slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains overlooking Silicon Valley.

San Francisco is noted for its venerable Botanic Garden in Golden Gate Park and for linear gardens lining many of the  steep stairways.

Popular rose gardens in the East Bay include the Morcom Rose Garden, Oakland and the Berkeley Rose GardenThe U.C. Berkeley Botanical Garden holds one of the most diverse horticultural collections in the country.

Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties

North of the Bay, early plant breeder Luther Burbank’s Santa Rosa home lies at the center of the agricultural counties of Napa and Sonoma where many wineries are noted for their lush garden settings.

Quarryhill Garden  in Glen Ellen provides sanctuary for rare Asian plants.

Many drought tolerant species from Australia and southern Europe were introduced by the founders of Western Hills Nursery near Occidental. Mendocino Coast Botanic Garden displays varieties that flourish on a cool oceanfront setting.

===> Explore more local itineraries via the RELATED links below.

Central Valley

Occupying 100 acres along the banks  of a creek, the U.C. Davis Arboretum the serves as is the primary source of horticultural information for the Central Valley.

With temperatures ranging from the low teens to the low hundreds, McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens at Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding features plants suited to these extremes of the inland climate.

Local Favorites

A wider selection of local favorite gardens are described in itineraries for the Monterey, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley areas.

At A Glance

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