Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Cornerstone Sonoma: Where Art, Imagination, and Plants Come to Play
Forgive me for thinking Toto and I had crossed into Kansas. But how to explain what appeared dead ahead in my windshield – a massive white picket fence, painfully twisting like so much tormented fusilli pasta, rising into a drizzly March sky. I checked my GPS: Sonoma, in the heart of northern California wine country. Perhaps this aberration was my destination.
I had heard so many wondrous things about Cornerstone: Festival of Gardens. It was one of those breathlessly spoken, Oh, you have to go there, places my designer friends insisted I visit. They portrayed the nine-acre complex as a pilgrimage required of every garden designer, that they might experience the melding of art, landscape architecture, horticulture, sense of place, playful imagination, and drama. The flying fence was this play’s opening act.
Cornerstone Sonoma was conceived and nurtured by the husband and wife team Teresa Raffo (pictured at right) and Chris Hougie. Their inspiration for this ambitious venture arose during their 1996 honeymoon visit to Frances’s Loire Valley, where the Festival Gardens of Chaumont cast a spell on their imaginations. Eight years later, in collaboration with world-renowned landscape architect Peter Walker, they opened the doors and gates to a twenty-two garden wonderland.
Lots of great pictures and descriptions continue at my Fine Gardening blog.