Sneak preview of Sunset’s new test garden
As you probably know by now, we’ve moved from our historic Menlo Park campus into our new digs in Jack London Square. We love it here.
The second part of our move involves building our new test garden and outdoor kitchen space in Sonoma County at Cornerstone. Our hands have been full, to say the least, but I wanted to let you in on the progress we’ve made on the garden so far.
Our first step was to hire Homestead Design Collective to design the new garden. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with such a talented team who lives and breathes the Sunset ethos. Owners Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis specialize in creating beautiful gardens that provide harvest. Stefani is the co-author of The Beautiful Edible Garden (Ten Speed Press, 2013) and Alethea is the co-author of the best selling books, The Flower Recipe & The Wreath Recipe Books (Artisan 2013 and 2014).
By Celebration Weekend (May 14–15 at Cornerstone—you’re coming, right?), you can expect five distinct garden rooms. Each deserves its own blog post and feature story, but in the meantime, here’s a mini preview of each:
There will be a Cocktail Garden—home to the various citrus, herbs, and plants that are the base for many of your favorite liquors. We’re getting a mighty education from Four Winds Growers, who are helping us showcase some of the most unique citrus on the market.
We’re working closely with Dave Wilson Nursery to design a Backyard Orchard that will be home to trees that bloom and ripen in succession, providing a long summer harvest. Beneath the trees, there will be important pollinator- and butterfly-attracting plants.
Our Gathering Space is poised to be the outdoor living room of our dreams. Olive trees will offer shade and structure, and borders of low-maintenance and drought-tolerant Sunset Western Garden Collection plants will mingle with graphic succulents supplied from the incomparable Succulent Gardens. And we’re pinching ourselves about the gorgeous table we’ll be featuring from Artefact Design & Salvage—one of our neighbors at Cornerstone.
If I end up moving from San Francisco to Sonoma, just know it was because of the Flower Room we’re planting. Flower Room. We’re thrilled to feature the best ingredients for straight-from-the-field bouquets, ranging from classic David Austin Roses to specialty chrysanthemums that you just won’t find at any florist’s shop. I seriously don’t know how I’m going to get any work done when there is a flower room in my life.
In the Farm, we’ll trial our favorite fruits and vegetables in raised beds in rich soil amended by organic Dr. Earth products. This season we’re growing no less than 6 types of oregano grown by Morningsun Herb Farm (Hands off! We need it for stories!)
The focal point of the Farm is our greenhouse with a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired slanted roof. Portland-based NW Green Panels built it from super strong incense cedar, glass walls (appropriate in our mild climate), and a shatterproof, light-filtering polycarbonate roof. Owner Jeff Sagner sources everything from the US, except the hydraulic vent openers filled with wax that, when heated by warm air, expand to open the roof. Those hail from Bayliss Autovents, a British company with their own propriety wax blend made, in part, from orchids. I’m geeking out pretty hard on this feature.
Again, lots more on everything as it unfolds, but I just wanted to share the progress with all of you lovely inquiring minds! We are so grateful to everyone for helping out with all of their resources and specialties, from the kind folks at Sonoma Materials to our favorite plant nerds at Annie’s Annuals. And a special shout out to the hardworking and oh-so-talented team at Cornerstone—Dawn Smith and Joe La Rosa—wowza! This garden is going to be beautiful. Come see us at Celebration Weekend! We will be so very proud and honored to show you our new creation—one that will hopefully grow as many good memories as our last one did. We can’t wait to meet more of our neighbors and really grow roots in this new community.