INTRODUCING THE GARDEN BOSS AT SONOMA'S FARMHOUSE INN
Jana Mariposa Muhar, Garden Boss at Farmhouse Inn
We just had the Resorts and Blooms Garden Tour for charity this weekend and Jana was out conducting tours of the property and answering the visitor's questions all day. We had put signage all around the property to help guests with identification but there is no way we can include everything on a sign. We thought it was a great time to introduce her and share some information about the Farmhouse Inn gardens.
Our guests here at Farmhouse seem to get a lot of enjoyment out of Jana's efforts in the gardens. Between the California climate and some things very unfamiliar to our out of state or even out of the country visitors we get a lot of questions about the gardens. Every morning walking back towards the office we run into guests enjoying a beautiful Sonoma morning in our gardens, cameras (phones) clicking away, and lots of questions...
"What is that bush that looks like it is full of strawberries?" (Strawberry tree- Arbutus Marina- The fruit is edible with a flavor likened to a mixture of kiwi fruit and strawberry but as with the fruit of the common strawberry tree, Arbutus unedo, the texture is gritty. It is a good habitat planting, as both birds and bees enjoy the tree, the former feeding on the fruit, and the latter on the nectar.) "What do you do when the deer come?" (Nothing- they were here first and we try to plant enough for everybody). "What is that fast little birdie with the fluorescent pink head?" (Crazy hummingbirds- we have 4 species that visit the property and that one is a male Anna's). "What was that thing that looked like a turkey on my patio this morning?" (It was a wild turkey, of course.)
The Farmhouse gardens include ornamental, culinary, habitat, and native plant gardens employing exclusively organic practices to create habitat that is attractive and safe for birds, honeybees, frogs, lizards, native pollinators, and many other little-noticed critters. You can pick up a map with plant lists at the Concierge desk. But let's just take a little tour of a bit of the gardens:
The entry garden on the North side of the restaurant is planted with shrubs and perennials that will be supplemented seasonally to be blooming and lovely all year long. Along the walkway are planted Camellias, Daffodils, Tritelia, Hellebores, Primulas (3 species), and Pulmonaria blooming in Winter/early Spring, followed by Hydrangeas, Viburnums, Hostas, Rhododendron, Foxgloves, Francoa, and Fuchsias, carpeted with the lovely native Redwood Sorrel (Oxalis oregona), evergreen and blooming in late Spring. Serbian Bellflower, Campanula poscharskyana takes over blooming after the Redwood Sorrel, and the Oak Leaf Hydrangea also provides Autumn color, along with the delicate Japanese Anemones. Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum) and Giant Chain Fern (Woodwardia fimbriata), both California natives, make a strong architectural backdrop. Our European Bay is to the West side of the stairs.
Along the driveway are the reliable Common Myrtle (Myrtus communis), Shasta Daisies, Mexican Mock Orange (Choisya ternata), and our native Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii); Red Penstemons (‘Firebird’ and ‘Red Phoenix’), Cape Fuchsia(Phygelius), Physostegia, Foxgloves, and Columbines make this area a Hummingbird Resort spot. Next year the Peonies should be established and blooming along with the stunning Oriental Poppies, Ranunculus, and Dahlias. The fragrance of the Star Jasmine is quite pronounced and delightful on warm evenings as is the Mock Orange with a lovely orange blossom scent when it blooms.
And on to the Spa Shade Garden:
On the north side of the spa we have a combination of native and non-native plants. Some noteworthy plants include the native Clematis, native Azalea, Rhododendron, False Solomon's Seal, and my newest attempts at Fawn Lily, Erythronium, and Claytonia Sibirica.
The "Secret Garden" on the south side of the spa contains both ornamental and habitat plants as well as herbs and flowers that the massage therapists incorporate into their facials and other treatments. Among them are Mint Geraniums, Alchemilla, Chamomile, Calendula, Pineapple Sage, and of course, Roses.
The greenhouse and chicken coop are a recent addition to the garden and gives another area to develop. Now planted with raspberries, strawberries, and boysenberries we have added alfalfa, mixed clovers, and fava beans as greens for the chickens and to provide nitrogen for the berries.
Thepomegranate bushes are covered with blooms this year and just maybe this year we will salvage some fruit before the critters (and the guests) get them all.
One thing not to be missed is our Dutchman's Pipe Vine that is happily wandering amongst the branches of St. Johnswort and is the only larval food plant for the stunning Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly. The tiny bright orange eggs are laid in clusters on the underside of the leaves, hatching into tiny bright orange caterpillars that ravenously consume the vine leaves.
So many more of our gardens to share with you on another day but you could just come by the Farmhouse Inn and have the concierge set you up with a tour with Jana, our Garden Boss.
"I leave you with a collage of flower photos to drool over. Love my bees- 'Til next time." Jana
Jana Mariposa Muhar has been developing the gardens at The Farmhouse Inn since 2008, and has been a horticulturist since 1971. She enjoys interacting with the our guests she meets around the property admiring her efforts (and the hummingbirds, other pollinators, beneficial insects, and other critters that inhabit our grounds). Now having a greenhouse for propagation, she is able to produce many of the plants that are incorporated into the landscape, habitat and culinary garden areas, and enjoys propagating seeds collected from various places (especially Sonoma County and the Sierras) to exhibit new and unexpected plants in our gardens. She is also a former Waldorf teacher, musician, singer, and dancer, and performs Balkan music with the Sonoma-county based group, Gradina.
You can always email her with questions about the garden at firstname.lastname@example.org