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A new name, and new mission, at Quarryhill Garden

Posted on March 16, 2021 by Sonoma Valley Sun

The name has changed but the scenery remains the same.

The Quarryhill Botanical Garden in Glen Ellen, internationally recognized for its spectacular collections of flowering Asian plants, has changed its name to Sonoma Botanical Garden.

Kate Rabuck, Curator of Education & Exhibitions, and Scot Medbury, director,
with the Garden’s new signage along Highway 12 in Glen Ellen.

The change reflects a broadening mission for the 67-acre property under its new director, Scot Medbury. The extraordinary site, almost lost to the fires of 2017, includes oak woodland and chaparral plant communities among its cultivated gardens.

The setting provides a unique opportunity to advance its environmental-education impact in an era of climate change, Medbury said, and to engage visitors in an appreciation of plant conservation.

“Adapting our mission to include California botany will allow us to be even more sensitive to wildlife, water, and wildfire issues,” Medbury said.

The name change and mission refinement come on the heels of a yearlong period of reflection and infrastructure investment, an effort further catalyzed by the arrival of Medbury a year ago. Medbury is an accomplished leader in American public gardens and returned to California after 15 years as President of Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York.

“We hope that encountering specimens of California’s endangered native flora will lead people to an appreciation of plant-conservation challenges around the world, including those found in Asia, and vice versa—that learning about the endangered flora of Asia might inspire local action to save California plants,” said Medbury, who served as Director of the San Francisco Botanical Garden and the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park.

“All of us are inspired by the opportunity to use this extraordinary site and its rich collections of plants to engage the next generation of environmental stewards,” said Medbury,

The 67-acre Sonoma Valley botanical garden is internationally recognized for spectacular collections of flowering Asian plants, many grown from seed gathered on trips to China, Japan, Korea, and elsewhere in Asia. It was founded by Jane Davenport Jansen in 1987 and was called Quarryhill, after the former sandstone quarry on an upland portion of the site. The name Quarryhill will endure in that portion of the Garden.

“We anticipate that the new name and enhanced mission will strengthen the Garden’s connection to our community, advancing our environmental-education impact in an era of climate change,” said Jerry Newell, chair of the Garden’s Board of Directors.

Garden visitors presently encounter rare magnolias, rhododendrons, maples, and more when exploring the site’s diverse terrain.  Adding California plants to its living collections will ultimately open other parts of the larger property to visitors and reflects the presence of existing California oak woodland and chaparral plant communities.

The nonprofit Sonoma Botanical Garden is located at 12841 Sonoma Hwy in Glen Ellen and is open daily, except Tuesdays, from 9am to 4pm.  For more information, visit sonomabg.org. (coming soon)

— Photos courtesy Sonoma Botanical Garden



4 thoughts on “A new name, and new mission, at Quarryhill Garden

  1. You folks in Sonoma – and all of Northern California – are so lucky to have Scot Medbury at the helm. While President of Brooklyn Botanic Garden, he brought more change to BBG than since its founding in 1910, all carefully aligned with its illustrious history. These changes have set the course for BBG in the 21st century and our focus on environmental sustainability.

    Frederick Bland, Chair of BBG Board of Trustees, 2007-2017

  2. A wonderful garden. A shame the name change doesn’t accurately reflect it’s location. Glen Ellen is NOT (yet) Sonoma. The distinctions once mattered. I will miss Quarry Hill.

  3. I am looking forward to my next visit! I too will miss “Quarry Hill” as the name. Perhaps “Sonoma Valley” would have been more appropriate. I am sure though that enough thought went into the new name. Hopefully it will gather attention and more visitors. So many people I tell of the gardens have never heard of it.

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