The Sonoma Botanical Garden looks down on the Sonoma Valley. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

The thing about Mother Nature is that she is always changing. Look at something today and it won’t be the same a day, week, let alone a month from now.

That’s why I’m already looking forward to my next trip to the Sonoma Botanical Garden near Glen Ellen on Highway 12.

With so many of the trees being deciduous, their barren branches are clear indicators it’s not quite spring. Still, some magnolias were popping out as were other blossoms.

The Idesia polycarpa is native to China, Japan and Korea. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

It won’t be long before orange, red, pink and white rhododendrons shine. The shrub can be more than 8-feet tall.

The garden was founded in 1987 Jane Davenport Jansen, who died in 2000. It was first known at Quarryhill Botanical Garden because rock from here was mined to use in road building. (The 2017 Nuns Fire burned on three sides of the garden, but for the most part the plants all survived.)

Jansen had bought 61 acres in 1968, then added the adjacent 22 acres in 1998.

Today, a nonprofit runs the gardens. Just last year another section opened to the public. These are the 22 acres acquired a couple years before Jansen’s death. This area is the California Oaks section.

The plan is to plant species native to the Sonoma Valley in the soil that has been disturbed. This will then provide a bit of an educational opportunity like the rest of the property.

The Chinese weeping cypress looks moss is hanging from the limbs. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

While this section is pretty, it’s the other 25 acres that are part of the gardens that are more interesting. Ninety percent of what is growing grew from scientifically documented seed that came from China, Japan and the Himalayas. Planting began in 1990.

The goal of the Asian Woodland is to protect this plant diversity, while also showing people flora from another part of the world that they might not otherwise see.

Paths meander through the landscape, making for a tranquil outing. Seating areas are in picturesque locations. The only sound came from the birds.

Most of the plants have identifying markers.

Water flows from creeks into small ponds.

It’s easy to feel transported to another place—which is in large part what the whole purpose of these gardens is all about.

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