What defines Sonoma garden style? "It's all about rustic elegance," says Bruce Needleman, who co-owns Salsa Trading Company, an upscale home and garden store in Sonoma, with his wife, Edna Hayes-Needleman. "This is a place of oaks, grasses, vineyards, and old wood fences. We let things grow naturally. Wild." The store's merchandise reflects this aesthetic, he adds ― big rounded pots, displayed either empty or holding dried grasses, and comfortable but durable furnishings.
You can mimic the look by shopping at the sources listed below. While you're at it, visit a winery such as Chateau St. Jean, where you can find ideas for fountains, container plantings, and more.
Aged and contemporary garden art, furnishings, and pots (both round and square) of ceramic, terra-cotta, and cement. Also, portable firepits, fountains, birdbaths, and more are displayed in a field that's scattered with sunflowers in summer. "We bring everything about the garden into people's lives," says Donna Tingle, daughter of owner Alta Tingle. "Furnishings, lighting, candles-―items that enhance our lives outdoors in Sonoma."
Info: 516 Dry Creek Rd., Healdsburg, CA; www.thegardener.com or 707/431-1063.
Artefact Design & Salvage
Owner Dave Allen sells garden furnishings, pots, and architectural elements that are rugged and timeless. "I like high-quality natural materials, antiques, and reproductions of iron, stone, and concrete. Unique stuff," Allen says.
Info: 23562 State 121 (directly across from Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves), 6 miles north of State 37, Sonoma; www.artefactdesignsalvage.com or 707/933-0660.
Chateau St. Jean
Enjoy Mediterranean-style gardens and courtyards filled with pots and fountains. You can taste and buy wines in the visitor center, which also sells books, picnic fixings, and, occasionally, plants such as small olive trees in terra-cotta pots (look for them in a weathered wagon just outside the center's east-facing door). Also check out the sumptuous container plantings, designed by Scott Armstrong, in the courtyards; you'll likely get ideas to take home.
Info: $5 tasting fee. 8555 Sonoma Hwy. (State 12), Kenwood, CA; www.chateaustjean.com or 707/833-4134.
The Spanish name of this upscale garden decor store means "village." "Our goal is to create a village of artisans and potters," says Peter Sarkissian, who owns La Villeta with his brother Mardo. "We specialize in large-scale pots from Mexico, China, Vietnam, and Spain." The shop also offers fountains, gates, and custom designs for home gardeners as well as for landscape architects, wineries, and interior designers. New this month: garden accents arranged in idea-filled vignettes.
Info: Just east of the junction of State 121 and State 116, Sonoma; 707/939-9392.
Mission Ace Lumber & Hardware
Pots and birdbaths galore that have a distinct Wine Country style. You'll also find oak half-barrels ($10) to use as rustic planters.
Info: 4310 Sonoma Hwy. (State 12), Santa Rosa, CA; 707/539-7070.
Salsa Trading Company
"Salsa style reflects California's heritage, mixing Spanish colonial and early ranch with Native American and Mexican influences," says Edna Hayes-Needleman, a co-owner. Look for handmade olive jars, Tarahumara pots from Mexico, iron equipale chairs, and weathered hacienda doors to use as gates, as well as Southwest-style indoor furnishings.
Info: 20490 Broadway, Sonoma; www.salsatrading.com or 707/939-1710.