History of the Garden
|Quarryhill Botanical Garden History|
A fast moving fire swept through the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains of eastern Sonoma County in 1964, burning almost everything to the ground. The following year, knobcone pine seedlings quickly sprouted in the ash-covered, rocky soil and shoots sprang from the remains of the charred madrones. Gradually, much of the range became a dense, almost impenetrable thicket of these pioneer species.
In 1968, Jane Davenport Jansen purchased more than forty acres northeast of Glen Ellen in the Mayacamas foothills, and two years later planted vineyards on the open valley floor. In 1987, she began to create a garden on twenty acres of the rocky, steep hillsides above the vineyards. The remains of several abandoned quarries which had been mined for road base dotted the site, evidenced by piles of rubble and numerous depressions. Some of these filled with water during the heavy winter rains, and a winter stream, winding its way through the rough terrain, eventually gave rise to a group of ponds and waterfalls; it seemed only natural to name the garden Quarryhill.
In the fall of 1987, representatives from Quarryhill went on their first seed collecting expedition to Asia. A nursery was established on site the following year, and by the spring of 1990 young plants were ready for the garden. Planting new seedlings has continued every spring and fall, thanks to seed gathered on more than twenty autumn expeditions to East Asia. Oaks, maples, magnolias, dogwoods, lilies and roses are particularly well-represented in the garden, and increased efforts have been made to focus on rare and endangered species from China and Japan. Today, Quarryhill is home to one of the largest collections of scientifically documented, wild-source Asian plants in North America and Europe, many of which represent ancestors of horticultural favorites found throughout the western world.
Jane worked tirelessly until her death in 2000, personally funding the entire operation and generously supporting fifteen expeditions. Over the years, Quarryhill has grown into a world-renowned botanical institution, providing other botanical gardens, arboreta, researchers, conservationists, students, and the visiting public with living examples of the beautiful and threatened temperate flora of East Asia. The twenty five-acre garden continues to thrive and expand with the help of staff, volunteers and members. Quarryhill celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2012.