Chileno Valley Ranch

5105 Chileno Valley Road
Petaluma, CA 94952



Chileno Valley Ranch Gardens and Grounds

The garden around the house was a big project in itself, although the design is simple and has the affect of fitting in naturally with the house. The garden was put in in the fall of 1997, although some David Austin roses, sunflowers and other flowering plants were planted in the front of the house in the spring, because Sally couldn't wait until the required picket fence was built before seeing what would grow.

Besides the flower and vegetable gardens, Mike has planted 180 apples trees which are now bearing fruit. They are new varieties and are certified organic

See an article about our garden in the Petaluma Argus Courier

There are over 1000 pickets in the picket fence, all shaped from redwood boards salvaged from the old part of the house that Sally and Mike took down to create a space for the kitchen, bathrooms, family room and the master suite above. The picket fence is painted Navaho White, to match the trim on the house. It is a beautiful fence and took a good amount of time to build. It circles the front of the house like the lace on a green collar. After it was installed and all the pickets were painted one by one, a concrete curb was installed with a aggregate finish, to match the long, wide walkway to the main entrance.

The curb sweeps gracefully around the edges of two yards, separating ample flower beds from the lawn. The types of flowering plants in the garden are too numerous to list, but do include 70 rosebushes, which provide fragrant bouquets for the bedrooms almost all year. Sunflowers and other hearty plants produce flowers for bouquets when the roses are resting.

Although the formal garden will not be enlarged, plans exist for additional gardens for special plantings, such as additional roses, a field of vegetables, an orchard and fruit bearing plants, such as berries and grapes. This is in addition to the present two year old orchard, two rows of olive trees and two vegetable gardens. When additional water is developed, these new gardens can be added. Hopefully, some income can be made off of these new gardens.

The Out Buildings

There are several other buildings on the ranch in addition to the house. This was a functioning dairy up until the mid fifties. The buildings all have new uses, but are of interest to historians, as they are all in their original form. Each milking stall in the 100 feet by 60 feet milking barn still has a fancy cursive number painted above it, in a style reminiscent of the last century.

The horse barn has old wooden stalls, chewed down over the years by tethered horses. The calf barn is cleared out but stands ready for calves to stick their heads through the feeding stalls for some fragrant hay. And the old small barn hides an old horse drawn buggy on it's upper loft.

Present and future uses for these wonderful old first growth redwood barns include a wood shop, a wood shed, a chicken house, a hay barn, and perhaps some day, a summer theater!

The Ranch

The ranch is 600 acres of pasture, hills and woodlands. Several streams course through the property, each with it's own needs and character. Several of the creeks have been replanted in native trees and restored, mainly by fencing out the cows. Beef cattle can be seen grazing on the hills and in the pastures around the house. They are of special interest to guests, a fact which amazes Sally, but which Mike finds quite natural, since he finds them quite fascinating himself.

Guests are encouraged to walk around the ranch, exploring the creeks, enjoying the wonderful views, and searching for nesting neo-tropical migratory birds or soaring predators, both of which are numerous. Deer, bobcats, and other critters abound. In the spring, many kinds of wildflowers dot the hillsides.

Creek Restoration

In 1996, Mike and Sally began restoring the part of Chileno Creek which runs through their ranch. Fences were put up to exclude the cows, two hundred native trees and numerous willow sprigs were planted, a drip system was installed to get the trees through their first three years, and alternative watering troughs were installed for the cows.

The results have been spectacular. Today , the creek is fully clothed in lush vegetation and birds and fish have found a welcoming home. Studies by the Point Reyes Bird Observatory show a dramatic growth in nesting neotropical songbirds. Steelhead have been seen swimming up the creek.

The story does not end with this project. Other gullies and tributaries on the Gale Ranch have been similarly fenced and planted. Neighboring ranchers have gotten interested in doing the same thing, and now over six miles of stream have been fenced and planted. The Marin Resource Conservation District has helped everyone plan and fund their projects.

We are proud of what we have done and are eager to share our beautiful creek with our visitors!


Sonoma Farmtrails - Promoting awareness and value of on-farm sales for the benefit of our members' businesses and continuing agricultural endeavors in Sonoma County.

Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) is a nonprofit conservation organization that preserves farmland in Marin County, California, through conservation easements, public education (including hikes and tours of farms, ranches and gardens) and advocacy.

Grown in - A list of ranches in marin and their products.

Research on Tomales Bay - Scientific Information on the Tomales Bay Environment.

Point Reyes National Seashore - The area contains unique elements of biological and historical interest in a spectacularly scenic panorama of thunderous ocean breakers, open grasslands, bushy hillsides and forested ridges.