Visit Sunset's gardens

See what's blooming here in spring, then visit our grounds in person

'Blue Ribbon' Dutch iris

Kimberley Burch

Sunset's headquarters: A lab for Western gardening

Welcome to Sunset's gardens in Menlo Park, CA. The grounds here are part of our lab for Western living, where editors and staff test their ideas.

The garden was originally designed by Thomas Church, the dean of Western landscape architects. A 2000 renovation by Chris Jacobson and Beverly Sarjeant added a fresh new look but kept much of the original border, with distinct areas representing the major climate zones of the West.

Here, 'Blue Ribbon' Dutch iris and pheasant’s-tail grass (Stipa arundinacea) frame the view.

Enjoy a self-guided walking tour of our garden any workday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m, and during our annual Celebration Weekend backyard bash. Groups of 10 or more should call ahead for reservations at (650) 321-3600 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Location: 80 Willow Road, Menlo Park, CA.

Grasses

Kimberley Burch

Grasses 

Trees, shrubs, vines, ground covers, perennials, and ornamental grasses show how foliage textures and colors can combine for beautiful effects.

Here, a meadow-like mix of grasses offers a fluffy contrast to the turf grass and a sprawling valley oak.

Woodland plants

Kimberley Burch

Woodland plants

The Sunset garden is divided into sections based on the geography of the West. Here, Northern California meets the Northwest with a selection of woodland plants.

Japanese maples ― yellow ‘Bon Fire’, apple-green ‘Sigure Bato’, and finely divided, deep red ‘Tamukeyama’ ― provide splashes of bright colors.

An enormous, red-blooming Camellia japonica provides a backdrop, and a thick carpet of mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) is a luxuriant emerald border.  

Tulip bulbs

Kimberley Burch

Tulip bulbs

Each November, Sunset landscape supervisor Rick LaFrentz plants 7,300 tulip bulbs at our Menlo Park campus. Patience does pay off ― five months later, we have a spring show.

Because we’re in a warm-winter area (Sunset climate zone 15), tulips don’t overwinter well here, so new bulbs are ordered and planted each fall.  

Queen of the Night

Kimberley Burch 

'Queen of the Night' tulip 

‘Queen of the Night’ ― often sold as a "black" tulip ― bloomed as a deep, velvety plum in our garden.

Fancy Frills

Kimberley Burch

'Fancy Frills' tulip

Living up to its name, 'Fancy Frills' tulip has an unsual fringed edge and a vibrant color as refreshing as a sip of watermelon juice. 

Pink Impression

Kimberley Burch 

'Pink Impression' tulip

‘Pink Impression’ tulips get a shot of contrast from the lime-green bracts of Euphorbia characias wulfenii, a drought-tolerant perennial that’s one of our favorite garden staples. 

Double Beauty of Apeldoorn

Kimberley Burch

'Double Beauty of Apeldoorn' tulip

At first glance, you may wonder what this bright, red-streaked flower is. A fluffy ranunculus? A blowsy rose?

Nope, it’s a tulip. To be precise, it’s a member of the Darwin Hybrid group called ‘Double Beauty of Apeldoorn’. (Apeldoorn is a city in the Netherlands.)

Sunset Celebration

Kimberley Burch

'Sunset Celebration' rose

Luscious, peachy ‘Sunset Celebration’ roses are underplanted by dusty purple catmint.

This rose variety, named for Sunset magazine’s 100th anniversary in 1998, is exceptionally disease-resistant and has a fruity fragrance.  

Bloodgood Japanese maple

Kimberley Burch

'Bloodgood' Japanese maple

The leaves of a ‘Bloodgood’ Japanese maple glow like stained glass in the sun, contrasting with the cluster of sunshine in the foreground ― those are ‘Strong Gold’ tulips.

Valley oak

Kimberley Burch

Valley oak

A valley oak (Querqus lobata) towers over Sunset’s south lawn. This native California tree can reach 70 feet tall; it’s picturesqely twisted limbs are a signature of the species. 

Violas

Kimberley Burch

Violas

Sweet-faced violas are a staple of the fall and winter garden. Even when the weather is gray, they provide cheerful ― and reliable ― color.

'Dreamland' tulips

Kimberley Burch

'Dreamland' tulips  

A trifecta of not-too-sweet pinks are the very picuture of spring.

‘Dreamland’ tulips on long slender stems are underplanted with charming ‘Antique Shades’ pansies; the easy-care shrub Loropetalum chinense ‘Sizzling Pink’ provides a dose of hot magenta.  

Dutch irises

Kimberley Burch

Dutch irises 

A trio of Dutch irises so vivid that they each look hand-painted: deeply colored ‘Purple Sensation’ (foreground), blue-violet ‘Professor Blaauw’, and perky ‘Royal Yellow’. 

‘Silver Beauty’ Dutch iris

Kimberley Burch

‘Silver Beauty’ Dutch iris 

A snowy bank of ‘Silver Beauty’ Dutch irises. Their strappy foliage looks just right interplanted with grasses, like pheasant’s-tail grass (Stipa arundinacea), California fescue, and zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’). 

Fringed Elegance tulip

Kimberley Burch

‘Fringed Elegance’ tulip 

The beauty of this ‘Fringed Elegance’ tulip is in its subtleties: Fine red streaks and a delicately textured edge. It begs you to come in for a closer look. 

Cherry blossoms

Kimberley Burch

Cherry blossoms 

Puffs of cherry blossoms are the surest sign that spring has sprung. This fast-growing yoshino flowering cherry (Prunus x yedoensis) can reach 40 feet; it’s the same variety that’s planted around the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.  

'Stainless' narcissus

Kimberley Burch

'Stainless' narcissus 

We love the stark white of these 'Stainless' narcissi. Their pristine petals contrast with a yellow-green eye, a sophisticated update for typically yellow bulbs. 

Euphorbia characias wulfenii

Kimberley Burch

Euphorbia characias wulfenii

Looking for a plant with energy? Try Euphorbia characias wulfenii, a drought-tolerant Mediterranean native that thrives in the Sunset demonstration garden. The lime green "flowers" are really bracts in this poinsettia relative. (Yep, they’re in the same genus!) 

Daydream tulip

Kimberley Burch

'Daydream' tulip 

Planted in a tight group, ‘Daydream’ tulips catch the afternoon sunlight.

Enjoy a self-guided walking tour of our garden any workday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Groups of 10 or more should call ahead for reservations at (650) 321-3600 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Please note that no tours will be held from May 23, 2011 through June 12, 2011 for setup and cleanup of Celebration Weekend.  Location: 80 Willow Road, Menlo Park, CA.

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http://www.sunset.com/garden/flowers-plants/sunset-garden-tour-00400000044732/