Home and garden happenings


Beauty for the naked eye

Western Hills Garden is offering tours of plants in full bloom on Saturdays. The Giant Puya chilensis, for instance, is only flowering for the second time in 40 years. Another plant you can catch at its most fetching is the newest Chiranthodendron pentadactylon “Monkey’s Hand Tree” now in bloom. There will also be a big assortment of plants for sale, including those propagated from the garden, and there’s no charge to shop in the nursery. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 16250 Coleman Valley Rd., westernhillsgarden.com., 707-872-5463.


Tea and memories in the rose garden

The Russian River Rose Co. invite people to come to their Healdsburg rose garden during Memorial Day weekend to quietly remember loved ones in a beautiful and fragrant setting.

“Tea and Memories in the Rose Garden” is a chance to sip tea, stroll through the gardens in the glory of their peak May bloom and place a personal message to a loved one on their Memorial Wishing Tree. As the weekend progresses the tree becomes filled with fluttering messages.

Visitors can also sample the nursery’s estate produced rose water and rose water sorbet and stroll the garden, filled with 650 varieties of roses. This is the last open garden of the spring season, so the nursery will be filled with plants on sale.

Cost is $4 per person, which includes tea. No reservations required. People are asked not to bring pets or picnics. 1685 Magnolia Dr., Healdsburg. 707-433-7455 or russian-river-rose.com.


Straw bale gardening

Marybeth Hull will teach people how to create a garden in a straw bale during a free workshop today. This will likely appeal to the alternative or beginning gardener. Perhaps you live in a place with poor or no soil. Or perhaps you wish you had raised beds, but dread the expense of constructing them. Straw bale gardening also is a great option for the disabled gardener or one with limited space. The master gardener will explain the pros and cons in Sonoma County. 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Guerneville Regional Library, 14107, Armstrong Woods Rd.


Last call at Forni-Brown

Forni-Brown Gardens has long supplied some of Napa Valley’s premiere restaurants with fresh produce. Every spring they invite home growers to come to their Calistoga garden to stock up on summer starts.

The season is winding down but there are still a few more chances to claim some of their tested tomatoes, eggplants, squash, cucumbers, melons, cantaloupes, peppers, salad greens and herbs. The garden is open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mary 18-19 and May 24-26.

This is also the last chance to visit the garden at its current location. The owners have announced that changes are afoot, which may include restructuring and relocating the garden, long located on Cedar Street, two blocks behind the Calistoga Inn and Brewery. The entrance is marked by a sign at 1214 Pie Street announcing “Plant Sale Today.”

For more information call 707-942-6123 or email fornibrowngarden@aol.com.


Tending native oaks

April Lynch will talk about these majestic trees and how to best care for them today. Lynch will detail 12 native oak trees and shrubs which can be found in the varied environments of Sonoma County. The presentation will be 90 minutes, with 15 minutes for questions. 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Rohnert Park-Cotati Regional Library, 6250 Lynne Condé Way.

Savory Pinot Noirs



Benziger, 2016 Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 14.2% alcohol, $45. ★★★★

This is an earthy pinot that’s elegant with bright fruit of black cherry and raspberry. It has a touch of tobacco and a whisper of white pepper. This pinot has great balance and a lingering cherry finish. Lovely.


Sea Smoke, 2015 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir, 14.5%, $65. ★★★★1/2: The Sea Smoke has explosive fruit and savory notes of cedar and herbs in the mix. The fruit is concentrated and generous — strawberry and raspberry — with a hint of cherry. Crisp balance. Nice length. It’s pricey but if you have the disposable income, it’s well worth the splurge.

Siduri, 2015 John Sebastiano Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir, 14.2%, $50. ★★★★: Those who relish savory will find this pinot striking because it’s earthy and even a bit gamy. What’s more, it’s complex with layered notes of boysenberry and cola, and it has impeccable balance. Smart.

Three Sticks, 2016 PFV Estate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 14.5%, $65. ★★★★: This pinot’s savory appeal comes from its blend of plum and spice. Buoyed with crisp acid, it also has high-toned strawberry fruit, with a hint of blackberry. But it ultimately wins you over with its supple texture.

Portlandia, 2015 Oregon Pinot Noir, 13.5%, $20. ★★★★: This is a rustic pinot that has a great quench of red fruit — cherry, plum and a hint of cranberry. It has an edge, this pinot, and its earthiness is matched by its powerhouse fruit. Rock star.