Pacific Horticulture Summit 2016, Sonoma County, CA, Oct 15-16, 2016

I don’t often promote third-party events but this one is so interesting (and a good value as well) that I want to bring it to the attention of all my readers. Sonoma County is one of the crown jewels of Northern California, so bring your significant other and make a mini vacation out of it! I plan on being there.

WHAT: Pacific Horticulture’s weekend-long Summit 2016, part of its Changing Times, Changing Gardens series, will explore how gardens are evolving in the face of climate change, with inspiration coming from our natural surroundings as well as from innovations in water conservation and land management. Of interest to avid home gardeners, landscape industry professionals, and anyone excited about the power of gardens to enrich life and inspire environmental stewardship. Inspiring illustrated talks by nationally renowned speakers from across the horticultural horizon followed by tours of historic gardens and visits to Sonoma County private gardens, nurseries, wineries, and public conservation projects.


© Saxon Holt, Used with permission.

WHERE: Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa, California, followed by off-site visits.

WHEN: Saturday, October 15, 2016, 8:00am-7:30pm, and Sunday, October 16, 2016, 8:00am-3:30pm


Saturday, October 15

Thomas Rainer (Washington, D.C.): landscape architect whose work includes landscapes at the U.S. Capitol grounds and New York Botanical Garden. Co-author of Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes.

Michelle Sullivan (Los Angeles): principal at Mia Lehrer + Associates, innovative landscape architect for high-profile urban projects that are changing the nature of public landscaping.

Bob Hyland (Portland, Oregon): plant-driven designer specializing in small gardens with a modern sensibility, informed by his work with public gardens including Longwood Gardens and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Tom Fischer (Portland, Oregon): senior acquisitions editor at Timber Press, at the cutting edge of contemporary horticulture.

Sunday, October 16

Phil Van Soelen (Fulton, Sonoma County): co-owner of California Flora Nursery and California native plant expert.

Marilee Kuhlmann (Los Angeles): designer and watershed activist who embraces a broader view of water-sensitive design and maintenance practices.


Saturday (chartered bus): Visit Quarryhill Botanical Garden, world-renowned 25-acre horticultural institution, followed by an evening reception at Shone Farm, the Santa Rosa Junior College outdoor educational laboratory with stunning rural vistas.

Sunday (several self-driving route options; box lunch): Visits include private tour of Western Hills Garden; open-nursery and tour day at Occidental Ecology Center; special welcome at Sunset Test Gardens at Cornerstone; walking trails of Laguna de Santa Rosa public conservation land; curated selection of sustainable wineries with gardens and nurseries with region-friendly offerings, and access to acclaimed private gardens.

MEALS: Saturday breakfast, lunch, and evening reception included. Sunday breakfast and lunch included


COST: Early-bird pricing: $200 for Pacific Horticulture Society members; $225 for the general public. After September 2, 2016: $225 for Pacific Horticulture Society members; $250 for the general public.


© Saxon Holt, Used with permission.

For even more information, please read the official press release below:

Pacific Horticulture will continue its Changing Times, Changing Gardens seminar series with the weekend-long Summit 2016: Shaping a New Garden in a Challenging Environment. Set in the bucolic Sonoma wine country, the October 15–16 event will center on inspiring presentations at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa. Each day will offer a curated itinerary of visits to gardens, nurseries, wineries, and more, a rich exploration of the important connection between gardens and nature.

Illustrated talks by a half-dozen of the most forward-thinking horticulturists in the West and beyond will offer fresh ideas about creating resilient landscapes that support the surrounding environment while expressing a distinctive aesthetic.

Saturday begins with a talk by Thomas Rainer, landscape architect and co-author of Planting in a Post-Wild World (Timber Press, 2015). Based in Washington D.C., Thomas has designed landscapes for the U.S. Capitol grounds and New York Botanical Garden and is guided by design principles focusing on climate-appropriate plant communities. Michelle Sullivan, principal at Mia Lehrer + Associates, will show how public spaces in Los Angeles are being transformed into multi-use landscape systems while knitting nature into the urban fabric. Portland, Oregon, garden designer and horticultural consultant Bob Hyland has worked at Longwood Gardens and Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and his container plantings have been featured in The New York Times and on Martha Stewart TV. He will share his ideas for making a big impact in small spaces. Tom Fischer, senior acquisitions editor at Timber Press, preeminent publisher of gardening and horticulture books, will lead a discussion among the day’s speakers.

Following the day’s talks, participants will travel by chartered bus to Glen Ellen to visit the 25-acre Quarryhill Botanical Garden, renowned worldwide for its wild-collected Asian plants. The day will close with an evening reception at Shone Farm, an environmental education laboratory operated by Santa Rosa Junior College, with sprawling views of a working farm, kitchen garden, and vineyard set amidst rolling hillsides.

Sunday’s first speaker, Phil Van Soelen, is co-owner of California Flora Nursery. His photo presentation will show how to effectively use native and summer-dry plants for year-round interest. As president of Urban Water Group, the final speaker, Marilee Kuhlmann, is committed to designing and creating water-conserving landscapes in Southern California. She will discuss the methods and benefits of rainwater harvesting and how to create a watershed-sensitive garden.

Sunday afternoon, participants will set out with boxed lunches and maps of several proposed self-driving routes that will offer a look at Sonoma County through a lens both horticultural and ecological.

Among the highlights will be a private opening of the landmark Western Hills Garden in rural Occidental, a naturalistic garden founded in 1959 at the intersection of three watersheds. The nearby Occidental Arts & Ecology Center will host a plant sale at its organic nursery of culinary and medicinal herbs and perennial food crops.

Another special welcome will be at the new Sunset Test Gardens at Cornerstone Sonoma. Staff and designers will be on hand for tours of the themed gardens: Farm, Backyard Orchard, Flower Room, Cocktail Garden, and Gathering Space.

Private gardens on view will include the stunning 2.5-acre hilltop garden of Mary and Lew Reid, she a designer and he an avid propagator. Famed Bay Area horticulturist and partner in Planet Horticulture Roger Raiche will open his enchanting garden in the Russian River hamlet of Guerneville.

Several of Sonoma County’s one-of-a-kind nurseries offering region-friendly and specialty plants will be mapped out. Among the dozens of Sonoma County wineries, several will be suggested not only for their sustainable grape-growing practices, but also for their stunning naturalistic settings, ornamental and edible gardens, or native habitat restoration efforts.


Pacific Horticulture’s Summit 2016 will take place Saturday, October 15, 8:00am–7:30pm and Sunday, October 16, 8:00am–3:30pm. Luther Burbank Center for the Arts is located at 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa, California. Meals provided will include Saturday breakfast, lunch, and evening reception, and Sunday breakfast and box lunch.

Early-bird price is $200 for Pacific Horticulture Society members, $225 for the general public. After September 2, 2016, price is $225 for Pacific Horticulture Society members, $250 for the general public.

For registration, lodging and travel information, visit:

Major funding for Summit 2016 comes from The Blanche Thebom Trust, The Left Coast Fund, and Miller Charitable Foundation.

For additional Pacific Horticulture information contact or call 510-849-1627.

Pacific Horticulture is a trusted resource for West Coast gardeners from British Columbia to Southern California. Our content—in print and online—encourages readers to engage with the landscape within a framework of good design and beautiful gardens. Founded in 1968, our nonprofit organization hosts seminars throughout the West and horticulture tours around the world.


  1. To say that I am jealous you'll be there is an understatement. I will console myself with the knowledge there will be several posts following up on your adventure (promise?).

  2. Hmmm...the timing would be tricky...but it sounds great.


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