Landscape Design

Allen Land Design

Santa Rosa
Healthy and vibrant landscapes inspire healthy and vibrant lifestyles. Our philosophy of enhancing the lives of present and future generations through our work is grounded in the concepts of sustainability. 

Anchordoguy Landscaping

A “design/build” landscape contracting company, installing projects from intimate pocket gardens to sweeping country estates. Unique gardens designed to thrive in hot sun to cool shade throughout Sonoma County.

Baumgratz Garden Design

P.O. Box 1, Healdsburg
Margaret Baumgratz
Gardens that bring enduring joy as the seasons unfold and create beauty in harmony with nature. I believe in working closely and collaboratively with you to create the garden of your dreams. Specializing in creating beautiful gardens that convey the client’s personal aesthetic while including drought tolerant, low maintenance, seasonally interesting plants.

Creative Environments

1550 Gravenstein Hwy S, Sebastopol
707 827-7980
A full-service landscape firm widely recognized for innovative design and quality installations at reasonable prices. Water features, outdoor kitchens, erosion control to garden enhancements.

David Beazlie, BSLA

707 887-7042
David Beazlie designs gardens that match the clients’ taste, interests, needs, and budget. His garden designs restore soil to health, sustain birds and butterflies and provide humans with climate resilient, beautiful edible landscapes. He creates water-conserving gardens of California native plants.

Fire Safe Landscaping

The best defense begins with defensible space.

By Eric Janzen of the City of Cloverdale, on behalf of RRWA

Many lessons were learned from the wildfires of 2017. The most important of which is that any fire, with enough fuel and driven by wind can burn through almost anything. It is never possible to protect your property 100% but there are things you can do with your landscaping to provide your family a fighting chance.

The best defense begins with defensible space.

Landscaping within the first 30’ of your home is critical. Planting low growing vegetation (waist high or lower), keeping trees pruned, and using automatic irrigation systems can do a lot to protect your home from wildfires.

What saved this house?

Fire Safe Landscaping - EXAMPLE

Fire Safe Landscaping – EXAMPLE (photo courtesy of CDF)

Get in the Zone.

Zone 1 is what firefighting professionals call the first 30′ from your home. This is the most critical area around your home and your last line of defense. It does not have to be a no-man’s-land. Incorporating hardscape features into your landscaping plan like patios, meandering stone paths and low masonry walls can be used to form fuel breaks near your home. Plants are welcome here but need to be widely spaced in beds or containers and regularly irrigated. Water efficient automatic drip irrigation systems can protect your home by keeping your landscaping green in the dry season.

Maintenance within Zone 1 is key. Keeping the fuel load low is the goal and you can do it yourself for free. Rake up leaves during the Summer and Fall and put them in your green trash can. Avoid using chipped mulch in this zone as it can harbor embers and ignite unexpectedly even after a wildfire has passed by. If you have trees in this zone, always prune the low branches to maintain a gap of several feet between the ground vegetation and the lowest branches. Tree branches that overhang the roof of your home should always be pruned back. Don’t forget to remove the leaves from your roof and gutters in the Summer and Fall. Dried leaves are often the first thing to catch fire.

Properties in more urban neighborhoods can benefit from fire-resistant fences. Using thicker lumber (1-1/2” or more) or incorporating stone, masonry or metal into your fence design can be both an architectural statement and a shield against a fire. Design fire-resistant fences with minimal gaps. Gaps can provide a place for airborne embers to get trapped and smolder. FEMA has published a fact sheet on the design of fire-resistant fences which is available online at

Regardless of the kind of fence you have, always avoid stacking flammable material like firewood or lumber against it. A good rule of thumb is to never store flammable material like firewood and lumber anywhere in Zone 1. If you like desert flora, consider planting a cactus garden. Succulents are naturally full of water, require little maintenance and naturally resist catching fire.

Beyond Zone 1 is Zone 2

Zone 2 extends another 70′ from your home (for a total of 100′ defensible space). This is where careful pruning, wide plant spacing and mowing dry grass serve to reduce the intensity of the flames before they get to your home. Planting fire-resistant plants like California Fuchsia, sage, and California Redbud not only resist catching fire but are also drought tolerant so less water is needed to keep them green. A useful list of fire‑resistant plants is available online from Fire Safe Marin at Maintenance is key in Zone 2 too, if you cannot easily walk through this zone, then it is overgrown and needs to be pruned and/or mowed.

In all zones, avoid planting “fire adapted” plants. These are plants that have adapted themselves to burn periodically and actually encourage wildfires. Plants that drop lots of leaves have flakey bark or resinous stems are considered “fire adapted”. Eucalyptus trees, coyote bush (baccharis) and manzanita trees (manzanita shrubs can be OK if kept low) are examples of the plants you want to keep far from your home. The California Department of Forestry has published some interesting information regarding “fire adapted” ecosystems which is available online at

Not everyone can do everything.Just remember that if all you do is prune your trees, clean your gutters and rake your leaves you have already come a long way to having a defensible space.

The Wildlands.

Those who live next to open undeveloped land get to enjoy some amazing views and a closeness to nature. This wildland-urban interface (WUI) also carries extra responsibility for fire protection. Wildland has few roads, is difficult to access and is rarely managed. Wildland has more vegetation than urban land and in the summer months, it can easily burn. Many plants in our area rely on fire to reproduce and have adapted themselves to occasional wildfires. As our homes and neighborhoods have crept into these natural areas we have exposed ourselves to an environment that is meant to burn. If your home is along the WUI then careful landscape management is critical. Heavy brush, closely growing trees, and low branches can easily catch fire and burn intensely. Even the 100′ defensible space required by State Law might not be enough. If your home borders wildland it is critical that you maintain the land around your home to be fire safe. Prune tree branches that are low to the ground, keep shrubs widely spaced and low (waist high or lower) and mow, mow, mow tall grass as soon as it turns brown.

Flirt with Firefighters.

Firefighters are attracted to defensible space and if you attract enough of them, they might bring their fire truck. When firefighters respond to wildland fires they need defensible areas to set up and fight the fire. If your home has a defensible area and access to water (nearby fire hydrant or a pool) firefighters can use your home as a staging area. For those who live on the WUI, this is the best defense against wildfire for which you can hope. If you have a pool, consider installing a portable pump that firefighters can use. If you have space, include wide driveways and large turnaround spaces in your landscaping design. Many local fire departments offer free fire safety evaluations and will provide guidance on how to make your property firefighter friendly and wildfire-resistant.

More Information:

CalFire – “Wildfire is Coming… Are You Ready”

CalFire – “Living with Fire”

Fire Safe Marin – “Fire Resistant Plants”

FEMA – “Landscape Fences and Walls”

This article was authored by Eric Janzen of the City of Cloverdale, on behalf of RRWA. RRWA ( is an association of local public agencies in the Russian River Watershed that has come together to coordinate regional programs for clean water, habitat restoration, and watershed enhancement.

Garden Angel Design & Sacred Ground

Garden Angel Design is a woman owned business founded in 1995 by Sherry McGary, building on 20+ years of experience. All services are provided with an emphasis on ecological practices and low water usage. We’ve have been busy creating green garden sanctuaries all over Sonoma County. Specializing in Food Forest gardens and Permaculture homesteads. Services include; Horticultural Consultations, Workshops, Garden Design and Planning.

Garden of Ease

Since 2003, Lynne Bernstein and her team have been creating memorable landscape designs and installations. Specializing in artisan stonework, outdoor kitchens, and low maintenance landscapes, Garden of Ease aims to give their clients outdoor spaces that provide year-round enjoyment. Attention to detail and a strong professional ethic distinguish Garden of Ease. Lynne credits her team, their talent, and dedication for recognition by Houzz as the “Best of Houzz” as well as the receipt of multiple industry awards for excellence.

Gardens West

We do it all – from design to installation to maintenance. Growing since 1974

Glyphosate Chemical Used in Herbicides Known to Cause Cancer

Last month, in a landmark case a California jury found that Monsanto had failed to warn a janitor of the cancer risks posed by Roundup which contains a high percentage of Glyphosate.

Chemical Exposures Cause Concern but not at the EPA

In the not so distant past, the controversies around what risk different chemicals such glyphosates posed to human health pitted the Federal regulators against the Industry representatives. Now, in this new era, many of the leaders at the Environmental Protection Energy have actually come from the ranks of Chemical Industry lobbyists. Not surprisingly, despite increasing evidence of human toxicity, these regulators seem to be losing interest in limiting human exposure to these potentially dangerous substances.


As we saw with cigarettes and lung cancer, it is notoriously difficult to causally link chemical exposure with cancer. The studies went on for years, and the Tobacco Industry developed a book of tricks to make any doubts of causation to seem more significant than they turned out to be. Now let’s look at Glyphosate. This chemical used in many herbicides, including the mega-seller Roundup, was developed by Monsanto 40 years ago. Its success stems from its ability to prevent plants from doing photosynthesis.

Glyphosate is a chemical used in many herbicides, including the mega-seller Roundup.In 2015 the World Health Organization declared glyphosate a probable carcinogenCalifornia eventually considered it a “chemical known to cause cancer,” but Federal regulators have been reluctant to classify it as dangerous. Contrarily, a recent NIH study showed no association with Glyphosate and cancer, and they released a draft in December of 2017 saying that it is “most likely not carcinogenic to humans.”

Last month, in a landmark case a California jury found that Monsanto had failed to warn a janitor of the cancer risks posed by Roundup. He developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using the weedkiller as part of his job as a school groundskeeper. Monsanto was ordered to pay $289 million and is currently facing over 5000 similar suits. The lawyers claim that they had shown jurors internal company documents “proving that Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate and specifically Roundup could cause cancer.” Monsanto is expected to appeal the ruling.

While the case of the specific workplace exposure is concerning, this chemical is ubiquitous in our society. A recent New York Times article (8/15/18 NYT) documented a study where traces of glyphosates were found in 31 of 45 samples of Cheerios, Quaker Oats and other breakfast foods. As is evident from all of the controversy, we do not really know what a safe level is.

Schools and Pesticides in Sonoma County

A really good article by Kaun and Warwick in the Press Democrat on 9/2/18 demonstrates:

  • New data from the state shows that many toxic pesticides are being
    used near schools.
  • Vineyards dominate agriculture near schools, most are not organic.
  • The most common herbicide in Sonoma County is glyphosate.
  • Sonoma County has the third-highest childhood cancer rate in
    California (Humboldt, Solano, Napa are all at the top as well).
  • Fortunately, new state regulations prohibit fumigants and sprayed
    pesticides near schools during school hours.

The Latest Tactic of the Trump EPA

Now the Trump administration is trying to restrict the use of a certain type of human study from impacting rule-making. The government has a new proposal, “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” where they challenge the validity of the well-established discipline of epidemiology. In the last 20 years, these types of studies have been the way to shift the investigations that influence policy to human studies and away from animal research. The Minnesota Department of Health has come out to call this new approach of the EPA “…a naked attempt to use a false claim that something nefarious is going on with these studies in an effort to allow industry to challenge conclusions that are not in their favor.”


We are in a particularly challenging time with environmental and climate concerns increasing in prominence, yet the government regulators’ reservations about economic impact of the regulations are leading them to be more aggressive at rolling back protections for human health. Developed at a conference in 1998, the “Precautionary Principle” continues to be a useful guide, and one we would tend to choose to protect our families:

“When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically”


Greenman Nursery

2833 Old Gravenstein Hwy, (West of Todd Rd.), Sebastopol
Open Fri.-Mon. 10am – 5pm (Tue.-Thurs. CALL ahead)
Old-school organically grown fruit trees, berries, grapes, herbs, and vegetable starts including over 50 varieties of hot & sweet pepper plants. Antique roses, succulents, grasses, water plants, natives, shade and flowering trees and many large, unique specimens. Full service landscape nursery offering consultation, design, and installation. Display gardens and growing grounds. Kid and dog-friendly!

Hillside Landscaping and Design

4005 Bodega Ave, Petaluma
A full-service landscaping company specializing in GREEN landscape design, walkways, patios, stonework, concrete, garden walls and more. To assure our customers the highest quality possible, we grow many of our own plants. We’re especially proud of our large selection of well-established trees.
Nursery by appointment only. License #507995 C27 class.

J.R. Townsend Landscape Services

CA Lic; 997137

Providing high-quality landscaping services to Sonoma County since 2004. Services include: Landscape design & installation; High efficiency irrigation system design and installation; Major tree care, removal & stump grinding; Flagstone & concrete paver installation; Outdoor construction: fencing, awnings, decks & more; Artificial lawn installation; Low voltage lighting; Knowledgeable staff; Free visual site assessments; Fully insured to a minimum of $2,000,000; “A+” rated with the BBB. We look forward to hearing from you, have a great day!

Kate Anchordoguy Landscape Design

Designs site specific schemes that work with the natural features, existing vegetation and specific microclimates unique to each location.  Communicative, Creative and Reliable.

Leff Landscape Associates

40 Fourth Street #244, Petaluma
(707) 789-0150
Leff Landscape is dedicated to creating outdoor living spaces that change the way people experience their environments. As exterior  designers, we are committed to the belief that people deserve exteriors with as much style, comfort and panache as the interiors of their homes (if not more).

Lucas & Lucas Landscape Architecture

709 A Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg
High-end custom designs: site planning; building placement; building design; pools; outdoor kitchens, dining and entertaining; water features; planting.  Our designs range from classic to contemporary, always rooted in their place and full of soul.

Lush Green Design
A garden artist helping to transform outside spaces to reflect who you are inside.

Mariposa Habitat Nursery

Northwest Santa Rosa
Jana Mariposa offers Landscape design and Consultation and is a Horticulturist with over 46 years of experience propagating, cultivating, and maintaining California Native and compatible Mediterranean plants in Sonoma County for her nursery.  She is available for consulting, design and contract growing habitat plants for hummingbirds butterflies and other beneficial insects, year-round flowers and always organic. Consider installing an edible and habitat hedgerow to create privacy and provide food for your family and many other inhabitants of our lovely county.

Merge Studio

241 South Main St. Sebastopol
Modern Landscape Architecture / Land Planning / Arboriculture
Registered Landscape Architect #5228
Combined perspectives: a collaborative design process of arranging land and structures into meaningful outdoor spaces.  Water management and regenerative design.

Mountain Meadow Landscape

Sustainable Design and Construction. Horticultural-based plant and tree care, Organic pest control solutions.

Nature’s Designs

Guerneville, Ca

Sustainable artistic landscape and garden design focused on creating dynamic beauty that is in sync with your style and the needs of your garden space. Nature’s Designs creates landscapes that are ecologically balanced with the best-suited plants for your space. We offer design, consultation, and irrigation programming.

North Bay Landscape Management, Inc.

444 Payran, Petaluma
North Bay Landscape Management is a fully licensed and insured company with over 60 qualified employees who have a wide range of expertise.  Our services range from a full service weekly landscape maintenance program, landscape design, landscape construction, installation and renovations.

Permaculture Artisans

2185 Gravenstein Hwy S, Sebastopol
Office Hours: Monday to Friday, 9AM to 5PM
Serving the North Bay since 2006, Permaculture Artisans designs, installs, and maintains regenerative and resilient ecological landscapes and settlements. We specialize in water use efficiency, food production, water harvesting, and restoration projects at all scales from broadacre farms and ranches to backyard landscapes. Find out how permaculture principles can transform and regenerate your home, farm, ranch, or place of business. Mention this ad and receive 20% off your initial design consultation.

Plants that FUEL or RESIST Fire ~ Choose Wisely for Fire-Resistent Landscapes

plants native to califirnia

Ceanothus, commonly known as California Lilac, offers almost everything a gardener could wish for in a shrub: free-flowering, lovely foliage, ease of cultivation and some varieties are even fire resistant.

Back when we were ONLY considering drought-tolerant landscaping to use less water in our gardens, we found many plants with high oil content that set in deep tap roots so required less watering. Some of those plants also tend to burst into flames because of the high oil content. What’s a gardener to do?

We still want drought-tolerant plants because rain is never something we can assume will come in quantity. All plants will catch fire under extreme conditions, but some can withstand the ravages of heat and fire. Fire resistent plants that support wildlife provides landscaping that is beautiful, creates habitat and looks good as well. Let’s stick with California Natives since they are already adapted to our climate and serve us for native habitat as well.

California Redbud

California Redbud

California Redbud (Cercis) is a lovely small tree that puts out brilliant blue-red blossoms, usually in early fall. Once established, they require little to no water. Just like in the wild, they will burst into bloom, covering the tree branches with blossoms. BONUS – they are fire-resistant!

California Fuchsia is one of the loveliest flowering plants that attracts hummingbirds. The foliage is a light blue-green which contrasts red, dangling flowers.

Penstemon – another bee and hummingbird plant that loves dry soil, and thrives on neglect so you get a bonus of beautiful blossoms all summer with little concern for time-consuming gardening. Mix and match colors: purple, magenta to brilliant red.

Sticky Monkey Flower

Sticky Monkey Flower

Sticky Monkey Flower

Monkey Flower (Mimulus) shows up along roadsides with their light yellow blossoms. This is a good time of year to see them since they tend to bloom early summer. The yellow is a lovely contrast to native reds and purples.You can find them in local native plant nurseries in a number of varieties that are suited for your microclimate. And yes, the are also fire resistent.

California Lilac (Ceanothus) (see photo above) is one of our local favorites because you can see it among our forests with deep green, shiny leaves with a crinkly surface, then in spring the blossoms send puffs of light to dark purple throughout a forest.

Fragaria Chiloensis

Fragaria Chiloensis

Lavender– of which we have published several articles recently, is on of those plants that thrives easily, provide color in blossoms but also in foliage (a soft, blue-green, provides food for bees and smells great dried!

Sage is another one of those multi-use plants. The violet flowers are very attractive to bees and hummingbirds and the leaves are scented and even useful in cooking.

TREES – You can SEE which trees made it through the October fires and the most dominant survivor is theCoast Live Oak. You have to like their prickly leaves, so take that into consideration but this is a beautiful tree that is evergreen and can withstand drought as well as fire.

Ground cover– well, you can’t beat wild strawberry, aka Beach Strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis). It spreads easily,sun or shade for a green carpet.

LEARN MORE @ – California Native Plant Society

Prenkert Designs

Have ideas but need help pulling them together? Have a blank palette to be filled? Color Consulting, Landscape and Interior Design

Rosmarin Landscape Design

Santa Rosa
We engage with our clients throughout the design process to create timeless gardens that forge a powerful connection with the surrounding landscape.

Santa Rosa Landscaping


Santa Rosa Landscaping offers a full array of landscaping services in and around Sonoma County. Whether you are looking to spruce up your existing residential or commercial landscape, design and build a brand new environment, add some lighting, a pool or waterfall, or simply need landscape maintenance we are ready to go to work for you! Please visit our website or give us a call for your free consultation and quote.

Sonoma County ~ A Vintage Rose ‘Terroir’ Where can you buy fragrant, vintage roses?

Garden Valley Ranch fragrant vintage roses


By Jane Rogan Dwight

The rose is arguably the most poetic of flowers. It is the hallmark of Spring, bursting on the scene in April and May, boasting singular beauty and metaphorical richness in every phase, from youthful bud to mature bloom. Thorns protect it, fragrance and color attract insects who live in symbiotic relationship.

Of course, not all roses are created equal.

In Sonoma County, we are known for our passionate horticulturists. Our most famous horticulturist, Luther Burbank, cultivated “Joseph’s Coat” and the “Burbank” rose – among many other plant varieties. Burbank called Sonoma County “the chosen spot of all this earth.” Those who know their roses are familiar with Rayford Reddell’s legendary work at Petaluma’s Garden Valley Ranch.  At the height of his career, Reddell’s most fragrant roses attracted such celebrities as Princess Diana, Caroline Kennedy and Martha Stewart. Garden Valley Ranch is now owned and operated by Jessica and Justin Yau, a brother and sister team who acquired it a year ago from Mark Grim. The Garden Valley Ranch property has a long and interesting history dating back to the 1850s.

Further north, nestled in the well-traveled Russian River wine appellation just off Westside Road, Jan and Michael Tolmasoff have been growing some of the most fragrant roses in the world on some of the richest soil in California since 1976. The birth and growth of their garden business, Russian River Rose Company, is another captivating Sonoma County story.

I had the opportunity to visit with Jessica at Garden Valley Ranch and Jan at Russian River Rose Company, with a guest appearance by husband-Michael. Here is some information for our readers.

Garden Valley Ranch

Jessica answered the bell at her petit garden gate in tall muddy boots and a big floppy hat. She was watering; a job that takes hours on her five-acre ranch. White doves fly out of the bell tower and demand I look up to notice the mid-19th century farm buildings, small and large, in the center of what feels like an old Victorian town complete with train depot.

Garden Valley Ranch barn with white roses

Garden Valley Ranch barn with white roses

We walk past rows of 5-gallon bare root roses on our way to the potting room, a place that takes a page out of the Pottery Barn catalog: Sonoma County rustic-chic. Jessica offers me a cold Yerba Matte from the cooler and tells me about the antique building elements in the room. Wood planks from original buildings were recycled to make attractive shelves and tables. Drawings and water colors depicting the 1850s train depot are framed and hung. The natural, indirect light adds to an atmosphere where I could spend hours happily potting plants.

From there Jessica takes me to the Carriage House. It is a beautifully restored, 2-story building that seems to be made for Sonoma County event parties. The wide barn doors slide apart revealing a porch that overlooks an expanse of the front garden.

On this afternoon Jessica gives me the complete tour. We made our way to a lovely, Victorian-inspired bedroom suite, where brides can dress; and to the quaint train depot, where grooms may dress. The depot especially made me envious of a quality of life we no longer see in public transportation. The approach to the wedding gazebo is surrounded by what will be hundreds of fragrant white rose bushes in May. The secret garden behind the gazebo features arbors of climbing roses and an exquisite fountainhead from The City of Paris department store in San Francisco.  Set in the middle of one of the gardens behind the Carriage House, is a large, meandering koi pond.

Where have all the roses gone?

In her articulate, soft-spoken way, Jessica tells me about the declining fate of the American rose industry. She refers to a Washington Post story, published in February and written by Damien Paletta. It is subtitled, “How the rose trade lifted Columbia and nearly erased an American industry.”   Yes, Columbia. Once a thriving business in the U.S., mass rose cultivation moved to Bogota, Columbia in the 1980s. Infamous in the 1980s for the growth of violent drug cartels who shipped cocaine by the ton to the United States, the Columbia drug culture provided jobs, supported villages and infected North America with its products. In the effort to curb the drugs coming from Columbia, the Bush administration passed new trade laws to aid Columbia in starting up its own rose production. It was successful. These roses, the ones you buy in grocery stores, are being shipped by the millions to sate the American appetite for low priced bouquets (Damien Paletta, “In Rose beds, Money Blooms,”   The Washington Post; February 10, 2018.)

In case you haven’t noticed, or don’t know any better, the roses from Columbia are not fragrant. So, if it’s fragrance you’re missing in your bouquets, specialty roses from Garden Valley Ranch and Russian River Rose Company are two places to buy in Sonoma County.

Environmentally conscious growing

As Sonoma County rose farmers, both the Yaus and the Tomalsoff’s are deeply committed to natural, sustainable and pollinator-friendly practices. Both grow their roses outdoors without chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilizers [check with RRR].  The results of working in partnership with Mother Nature are stunningly beautiful, fragrant flowers.

The Garden Valley Ranch offers classes and special tours, family event days and an inspiring wedding venue. They will also sell cut rose stems and bouquets from the ranch. It is a beautiful, quick drive to the property, which is situated in your backyard, off Stony Point Road in north Petaluma.

Garden Valley Ranch field of roses

Garden Valley Ranch field of roses

Garden Valley Ranch – 498 Pepper Rd, Petaluma • (707) 795-0919 • Private tours and nursery pick-ups by appointment. Please email .
First Friday tours are open to the public at $10 per person.  The first tour is on Friday, May 4.

Russian River Rose Company

Russian River Rose American Pillar Rose

Russian River Rose American Pillar Rose

Refined culinary rose water, rose oils for perfume and the roses themselves are some of the fragrant products of Russian River Rose Company. Owner, collector and cultivator, Jan Tolmasoff, has taken time out of her busy day to talk to me. She is prepared. Everything about her open, welcoming personality, natural organization and clear-thinking is evident upon our meeting. She sets the table with charming, Victorian china, silver spoon and linen napkin. She gives me an option of teas, but I choose the rose tea (of course). Outside, a nursery worker is industriously arranging pots of roses and preparing beds for new layers of manure. Jan sees a bright blue, swallow-tailed butterfly hovering over her ‘bees and butterflies’ garden. She is ecstatic. Her clear, round, blue eyes emanate her personal passion for the stewardship of Russian River Rose Company she and her husband, Michael, have worked for 42 years.

When the Tolmasoff’s purchased the Healdsburg property in 1976, they knew they wanted to grow grapes. Pears and French Prunes were planted over 15 acres, but due to the high concentration of pesticides required to grow pears they made the decision to take them out. The hardy prunes stayed and produced for them. One day, using a $100 gift certificate she had from her Grandmother, Jan decided to buy and plant roses to beautify the vineyard. She poured over the catalog, “Roses of Yesterday and Today,” and found herself attracted to the vintage varieties not only for their beauty and fragrance, but for their stories. “Every rose came with a testimonial,” she tells me with a meaningful look. She purchased 15 roses and never looked back.

Russian River Rose Company now carries 650 varieties of roses and – Jan is excited to tell me – 150 varieties of Irises. She tells me about her roses, naming their names, the way one would speak of dear friends. The personalities and connections of her garden are as important to her as the blooms themselves. Jan chooses the varieties for their beauty, fragrance and versatile growing patterns. She also chooses them for how well they flourish in our Northern California climate.

Russian River Rose famous rose covered arches

Russian River Rose famous rose covered arches

The Bulgarian Damask Rose

Jan tells me about the trip she and Michael took to the famous Kazanlik, Bulgaria Rose Festival in 1996. There, in the Valley of Roses, horticulturists have been growing ultra -fragrant Damask roses for centuries. Production is extremely work intensive. The Damask rose blooms only once a season, and those blossoms must be picked immediately in the very early morning before the sun dries the fragrant oils in the petals. The perfumes made from Bulgarian rose oil have graced royalty throughout history; [For more information, go to –].

Michael Tolmasoff is a Chemical Engineer. Prior to their visit to Bulgaria, Michael became interested in learning to produce rose oil perfumes. He now produces small batches of rose oil and fragrances each season. RRR offers it for sale in their online store and at the garden. If you’re interested, buy soon. It sells out very quickly.

Mothers Day - Margie and Mike Wilson

Mothers Day – Margie and Mike Wilson

RRR Monthly, Seasonal Events

Almost every month of the year Jan features a different experiential workshop. May is a time for families and friends to experience the beauty of the garden – especially on Mother’s Day. Generations of families have been visiting RRR on Mother’s Day when blooms are everywhere. During Memorial weekend, Jan and Michael offer ‘tea and memories.’ People may write their wishes and tie them to the wishing tree. Jan then takes the wishes and buries them beneath the garden. In October the Tolmasoff’s host Bulgarian singers and offer their new batch of fragrance, which has been aging for 5 months. I am told there is tea and hand-cranked sorbet.

If you would like a unique experience full of beauty, be sure to consult Russian River Roses website to see what is happening during the year.

Russian River Rose Company –1685 Magnolia Dr., Healdsburg • (707) 433-7455 • Throughout the year Jan features a different workshop. May is a time to experience the beauty of the garden – especially Mother’s Day & Memorial weekend. In October the Tolmasoff’s host Bulgarian singers and offer their new batch of fragrance, aged for 5 months.


Susie Dowd Markarian Landscape Design

608 Los Olivos Rd.
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
(707) 537-0508
Sustainable & Water Conservation Specialists  & Award winning designer.

Totem Landscape Services, LLC

PO Box 1712
Sonoma, CA 95476
Leaders in organic and sustainable landscape solutions for healthy gardens. Maintenance, design & construction, consultation, soil building and analysis, irrigation and water management systems, and integrative pest management services. Our skills include creating custom vegetable gardens and pruning fruit trees for the best yields.

Wild Garden Farm & Nursery

2710 Chileno Valley Road, Petaluma
As the successor to North Coast Native Nursery, we’re growing an expanded selection of native and non-native species.  Our emphasis is propagation of multi-purpose plants for creating beautiful and functional landscaping for wildlife habitat, pollinator hedgerows, water conservation, edible landscapes, dye gardens, and herbs and perennials for Asian and Western traditional healing and culinary arts and other practical purposes. Inquiries welcome for contract growing, design consultation, and seasonal nursery hours.