Friday, April 11, 2014

Sunset Gardens - an Oasis in the Middle of Town

1.2 acre lawn of colonial bent grass, Astoria strain
Menlo Park is a great little town to visit, but what makes it even better is its hidden oasis - Sunset Gardens - yes, THE Sunset Gardens of magazine fame. Their headquarters are near downtown and they have a display garden that is open and free to the public, M - F, 9 - 4pm.
Location: 80 Willow Road, Menlo Park, CA - at the intersection of Middlefield and Willow Road.

I needed to go to Menlo Park to pick up my daughter's repaired cornet (Bridgepoint Music - a great music and repair store) and I thought, why drive all that way and not do something while I'm down there? A quick Google search brought me to Sunset Gardens so away I went.

Approximately 1 mile from downtown Menlo Park

What struck me most about Sunset Gardens was its quiet serenity.  Here I was in the middle of downtown (well, almost) and I could hear birdsong!  When I arrived, an elementary class was just leaving, so except for one gardener and one visitor, who both quickly disappeared, I had the garden to myself!

Sunny sky and Birdsong!

This is a self guided tour; you can pick up their guide brochure at the front desk. The garden consists of a beautiful green lawn bordered by 5 separate western climate zone areas. It also has an Editorial Test Garden. Following the brochure's suggested route, I began my stroll in the Southwest Desert.


Following that, I walked through the Southern California zone, the Central California zone, the Northern California zone, and finally the Pacific Northwest zone.

Tlingit Totem Pole from Port Chilkoot, Alaska

Leaving the Pacific Northwest, I passed some beautiful ornamental grasses. Not sure which zone these were in as there was no label.

The last area I visited was my favorite, the Editorial Test Garden. This is where Sunset staff evaluates various plants and projects to see how they perform. According to their brochure, the garden is "an example of how to achieve high performance in tight spaces." They also point out that half of their photography is done in this area. I certainly favored it for my photography!

If you go: Bring your camera and slow down long enough to discover the garden's hidden gems.

Have Fun! Oh, and if you're lucky, like I was, you can pick up a free sample of Ghirardelli chocolate before you leave. What can be better than that?

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