Following Article recently appeared in the
The Petaluma Argus-Courier
does your garden grow?
Saturday is the sixth annual 'Through the Garden
Gate' tour to benefit the Petaluma Historical
Museum and Library
Katie Watts, Argus-Courier Staff
if there was no garden at the Chileno Valley Ranch
Bed and Breakfast, the destination would be worth
the trip. The green hills are dotted with cattle,
the serenity is almost tangible and then there's
that magnificent restored Italianate mansion backed
by cypress trees.
though, there is a garden, a kaleidoscope of color
in its early spring bloom, for spring is later in
the Chileno Valley, say innkeepers Sally and Mike
garden, Mike says, is all Sally's creation. And she
tends it carefully, plucking, weeding, trimming as
she talks. Right now, she's worried for fear the
roses won't be in full enough bloom for this
weekend's "Through the Garden Gate" tour. She's
also concerned about a voracious insect that is
decimating the roses.
Gales returned to the old family homestead in 1994,
after 20 years in Hawaii. Sally's family had owned
the land since 1856, while the house, home to
several generations of her ancestors, was built in
1883. But for years it was abandoned and trashed.
By the time Sally and Mike got there, the house
sagged ominously to one side and appeared
unsalvageable to many.
not to them. And once the house restoration was
complete, Sally turned to the garden. She had
gardened in Hawaii but it was very different, "no
roses, mostly bromeliads and tropicals."
the plants are mostly roses - she's not really sure
how many but obligingly offers to count them - and
perennials. "My aunt, Ruth Seaton, really got me
started. She lives on a vineyard in Healdsburg and
is really into plants. She gave me a lot of the
perennials." Other plants were gifts from friends,
and the many iris came from her mother.
designed the garden as well. She started from
scratch: only a few roses survived from the
original plantings. It spreads invitingly around
the house, surrounded by - what else - a picket
fence. Off to the south are raised beds holding a
wide variety of herbs and vegetables, and on the
other side of the driveway are more roses and a
fledgling apple orchard. Everything has to be
planted in wire, she says, because of gophers.
They're also plagued by snails but don't have a
garden is organic, and the sun is bringing out a
faint, homey smell of coffee. Mike says that Sheila
Bride of the Petaluma Coffee Company supplies them
with coffee grounds.
mostly enjoy perennials," Sally says. She learns as
she goes, moving plants, seeing what looks good
together. "If it's your fun thing, you learn." And
she enjoys the serendipity of plants seemingly
deciding where they want to be: a foxglove peeking
out of the middle of a rosebush, for example.
do it because I love it."
Valley Ranch Bed and Breakfast is just one of the
gardens featured in "Through the Garden Gate," the
sixth annual garden tour and fund-raiser for the
Petaluma Historical Museum and Library.