Monday, January 20, 2014

Visiting Northern California--Secret Garden Cottage, Inverness

View of Tomales Bay out the window
View of Tomales Bay out the window
The word garden lured us to stay at a bed and breakfast in Inverness, California. The Inverness Secret Garden Cottage is on a hill above Tamales Bay, just inland of Point Reyes National Seashore.

Remembering it most of a year later, I am jealous. The climate of the Northern California coast is moist and mild. The garden includes wonderful plants I cannot grow.

What would those be? Oh, coast redwood, jasmine, big rhododendrons, camellias, to name a few.



coast redwood
coast redwood
Of course, I chose to live in Northern Colorado, so I chose the climate. But coastal California is a lovely place, with sunshine and mild temperatures, summer fog and winter rain. Wonderful to visit in the winter to get away from snow and ice; equally lovely to visit in midsummer, to take a break from scorching heat.

All around the Secret Garden Cottage are gardens filled with interesting plants. Over half a century, owners committed to gardening have built a gem. Native plants like coast redwoods are interspersed with decorative English species and New Zealand trees rare in the US. 

coastal fog behind the Secret Garden Cottage
coastal fog behind the Secret Garden Cottage

The Garden was started more than fifty years ago as the vacation home of a botanist who worked at the Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. She planted and encouraged plants she liked, then with her husband retired to work on the garden full time. The current owners Patsy Faulkner and Philip Jonik bought the property in 1986 and likewise have spent ever more time on it in retirement. The result of all this labor and love is a well-established, well-tended garden with diverse collections of handsome plants. There is even a map from an Inverness Garden Club Tour in 2004, showing the beds, the layout and the locations where particular varieties are planted.  


The rhododendron glade and the camellia grove were not flowering when I was there. Both are wonderful plants, so, looking at the big green shrubs,  I had to imagine their magnificence in full bloom. Ah...
Wonderful colored foliage
Wonderful colored foliage

But it was terrific when I was there in mid-May as well. In particular, the Garden made the most wonderful use of colored leaves! Grand displays without flowers. I was inspired to imitate it in my own garden.

Beckoning paths
Beckoning paths




foxglove
foxglove, Digitalis



























Although shrubs and trees set a basic structure to the garden, attractive self-seeding plants were allowed to move at will. So, for example, there were fine tall foxgloves poking out of odd locations. I really liked them.

foxgloves
self-seeded foxgloves, Digitalis

Patio table surrounded by jasmine
Patio table surrounded by jasmine































The patio outside the Cottage was surrounded by jasmine vines, flowering when I was there and filling the air with sweet scent. It was an enchanting place to read with a cup of coffee. 

Then the afternoon fog rolled in and I had to put on a sweater to finish the cup of coffee. Ah, northern California! 

But that's part of the joy of travel--weather and plants that you don't have at home.


The Secret Garden Cottage was indeed a spectacular place and is a splendid memory in the depths of winter. 



Comments and corrections welcome.

Kathy Keeler
http://awanderingbotanist.com
Join me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AWanderingBotanist




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