What’s going on in the Sunset Test Gardens at Cornerstone Sonoma? We have updates!

sunset test gardens

The weather may be as fair as ever, but fall is definitely in full swing in the Sunset Test Gardens. Though we’ll always miss the garden at our former Menlo Park campus, our partners at Cornerstone Sonoma continue to prove that there’s nothing more beautiful than Sunset in Sonoma. While you’re there, be sure and check out the other beautiful gardens at Cornerstone Sonoma, and stay for a sip of wine.

As we begin the shift to the cooler season, here’s what’s happening in our five Sunset Test Gardens.

Flower Room

Mums and dahlias under a moody autumn sky; Photo by Dawn Smith / Cornerstone Sonoma

More Videos From Sunset

‘Lady of Shalott’ roses; Photo by Sarah Cerles / Cornerstone Sonoma

In the Sunset Flower Room, fall is seeing a flush of vibrant zinnias, chrysanthemums and dahlias, like the stunning ‘Alfredo Orange’ mum below. The roses are all still going strong, too, both in the Flower Room and the Rose Test Beds. ‘September Charm’ anemone is having its moment, and ‘Charming Beauty’ and ‘Amazing Parrot’ tulips have just been planted for spring blooms. (Some of the spring bulbs were getting a little ahead of themselves; we saw lots of green sprouts coming up in late October!) 

‘Alfredo Orange’ chrysanthemum; photo by Heather Arndt Anderson

Milkweed seeds and floof, ready to become airborne; photo by Dawn Smith / Cornerstone Sonoma

Cocktail Garden

Photo by Heather Arndt Anderson

The potted citrus and pomegranates are full of fruit, waiting to be squeezed into fresh cocktails. While the hops cones have long faded to a golden-straw hue, the basil is just as fragrant as ever, humming with honeybees; both grow at the aromatic border of the cocktail garden and farm.

Farm Garden

sunset test gardens

Late summer garden with basil tunnels leading from the Cocktail Garden to the Farm Garden’s beds; photo by Thomas J. Story

‘Freckles’ lettuce; photo by Dawn Smith / Cornerstone Sonoma

In the Farm Garden, amaranth is hanging its long, red velvet ropes as its leaves change with the season. The raised beds have just been planted with Asian greens from Kitazawa Seed Company: perilla (shiso) ‘Hojiso,’ Mitsuba (Japanese parsley), pak choi ‘Red Choi,’  cabbage ‘Shuka’ and the kale/broccoli hybrid ‘Suiho.’ There are salad greens such as endive ‘Rhodos,’ kale ‘Red Russian,’ and ‘Freckles’ lettuce.

Gathering Space

sunset test gardens

The soft edges surrounding the gathering area table are a celebration of texture and color: a burgundy ‘Design-A-Line’ Cordyline; silvery, feather-leafed honey flower (Melianthus major); and fountains of Platinum Beauty Lomandra pop against a dark green privet.

sunset test gardens

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Backyard Orchard

Juicy fruits adorn the fragrant seckel pear tree in the orchard. From the first apricots of spring until the last apples and pears of autumn (not to mention the thornless blackberry canes), the Sunset Test Garden orchards at Cornerstone Sonoma provide delicious fruit nearly year-round.  

sunset test gardens

Echinacea in the Orchard keeps bees happily occupied; photo by Thomas J. Story


Want to stay up to date on what’s going on in the Sunset Test Gardens at Cornerstone Sonoma? Sign up for our newsletter and subscribe to updates from Cornerstone Sonoma. Like what you see here? You can buy these plants for your own garden—our plant list is on the Cornerstone Sonoma site and shop from the Sunset Western Garden Collection.