Open Days Returns to the San Francisco Bay Area

The Open Days program is excited to be back in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2016, and enthusiastic garden lovers turned out on Saturday, April 23,  for the first of six scheduled dates in Northern California. Featuring five private gardens and a Digging Deeper event at Robin Parer’s Geraniaceae Greenhouse, there was much to lure visitors to each and every garden.

In two sold out sessions of Digging Deeper: A Passion For Pelargoniums with Robin Parer, participants were treated to an opportunity to learn about this diverse genus from one of the Bay Area’s most knowledgeable plantswomen. Attendees passed and smelled scented geranium leaves of every kind - press gently! - until heads were spinning in the most delightful of ways. Robin shared her staff’s secret to successful propagation, signed copies of her brand new book, The Plant Lover’s Guide to Hardy Geraniums, and enthusiastic plant shopping followed the presentation.

Leianne's Garden, Oakland, CA
Open for the first time this year, Leianne’s Garden in the Oakland Hills (right) drew a crowd eager to see the newest garden. Panoramic views of the bay, bees, goats and an eclectic plant collection were only half of the garden’s allure. Volunteers Michelle and Marie reported that everyone emerged from the garden looking amazed and saying the same thing, “It just keeps going and going and going!”

Potomac Waterworks, Oakland, CA
At Potomac Waterworks in Oakland (left), visitors paid a sad farewell to garden owners Paul & Robin Cowley. They recently sold their home after forty years of gardening on the property. The Cowleys have participated in Open Days six times since 2005, and we wish them much luck in their new home.

Keeyla Meadows’ exuberantly colorful garden was a welcomed late addition to the day’s garden lineup, and visitors were also invited to explore her studio. In Berkeley, Marcia Donahue’s Australian grass tree was blooming for the first time in thirty years, with inflorescence shooting 20 feet into the air. View photos and read more about Keeyla’s and Marcia’s Open Days gardens on local blog, Succulents & More.

Marcia Donohue's Garden, Berkeley, CA

Extended viewing hours at the Bowyer’s Japanese Garden, open for the first time since 2004, made for the perfect end to a full day of garden visiting. Three steps through the gate and onto the dry lake’s floating path and visitors were transported; instantly soothed by this place of tranquility and simple beauty. A quietly shining example of a garden’s ability to move us, and a perfect end to this season’s beginning.

Two of the many wonderful volunteers who make Open Days possible

Additional Open Days will take place in Northern California on the following 2016 dates: May 21 & June 4 in Marin, June 18 in Mendocino, June 25 in Downtown San Francisco and July 30 in the East Bay. For more information about the Open Days program or to learn how you can get involved please visit