Home » Nature

Category: Nature

Water in Sonoma Valley, Carriger Creek, Home and Gardens

As we continue this winter season in which we celebrate the recent rains, I’d like to share with you two properties and some beautiful fountains that all bring to mind the joy of water available to the homes and gardens of wine country.  The first is a lovely residential + commercial location on the southern side of Sonoma Valley with an abundance of artisanal water.  The water flows up from the earth (at a rate of 14± gallons per minute), and is readily available to the home, small orchard, hobby vineyard, and business.

Sonoma Valley

View from above looking west at this Sonoma Valley property, 75 Fremont Drive, Sonoma.

A lovely interior with older wood floors that have such a warm tone to their coloring.

A very inviting entrance to one of the residential areas.

Sonoma Valley Vineyard

A few organic grapevines enjoying the sunshine before harvest.  Feel free to watch this video for more information.

The second property is on the west side of Sonoma Valley, just moments from the center of town, Sonoma Plaza.  This estate is graced with the abundant beauty of Carriger Creek flowing freely along the land.  With its location at the foot of the mountain, it offers sweeping views of Sonoma Valley, vineyards and beyond from most area points on this 33± acres of land.

Sonoma Valley

Expansive view from a potential building site on this land.

Nearby trail to wander at your leisure with full privacy.  You can see a part of the wildflower preserve in the distance.

Sonoma Valley Home

I just love this “personal park” area next to historic Carriger Creek where one can gather with family or friends.  This spot has been enjoyed by young Nature Camp participants over the years.

Journaling at Carriger CreekA moment overlooking the creek in the early afternoon with my journal.

Please enjoy this brief video highlighting the beauty of Carriger Creek and the pleasure of journaling, something that I share with the community, including children, through my Sonoma Nature Journal Club.

Carriger CreekThe beauty of the simple waterway of Carriger Creek.

Here in Sonoma and Napa Valleys, we so deeply appreciate when the water that springs forth from the land via stream, creek, lake or other waterway.  Carriger Creek is an enchanting natural waterway in the Sonoma Creek watershed that meanders through the land on the west side of Sonoma Valley before flowing into Sonoma Creek and out to the ocean.

A simple traditional tea house amidst the trees, with an enormous view of this property.

The Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve, a nature preserve in Sonoma County, is nearby with 163± acres along the foothills of Sonoma Mountain.  The Preserve has a gently sloping grassland and over 250 species of common and rare wildflowers.  This sweeping expanse of protected land can be seen from the property and potentially hiked often.

Father José Altimira had much to say about the vital, historic water sources in this area.

“Sonoma is a fountain of fountains,” wrote Father Altimira in July of 1823, as he explored the North Bay, looking for the best place to build a mission.

The wonderful Sonoma Mission Gardens nursery has unique fountains to choose from so that you may relax amidst the sound and positive energy of flowing water.  To honor our precious natural water sources, here are a few lovely fountains that can be purchased for your garden and home.

Sonoma Valley Gardens

Ripples of water

Fountains in Sonoma Valley

Bubbling forth

Sonoma Garden Home

Drawn into a trough

Sonoma Mission Gardens

Tiered terra cotta

Garden Fountain

The majesty of an arcing stance

A side entrance door to this favored nursery of locals reminds us of all of the character and art of garden rooms.  Here Sonoma Mission Gardens offers many vessels: fountains for your own flowing water in Sonoma or Napa Valley.  It is all about land + gardens + homes, adding so much to our “Art of Leisure” lifestyle with family and friends.

Contact me anytime for further details.

Celebrating Earth Day With Butterfly & Hummingbird Gardens

Earth Day

Spring is here and Earth Day is fast approaching.  Sonoma Syrup Co. & Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance have joined with me to bring over 330 Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden Seed Gifts to anyone who is visiting Sonoma Valley from April 15th through the 25th.  These gifts, as seen above, will be available at the shops and wineries listed on the last post at no cost, only with the thought of helping our winged friends.

This lovely swing on a spacious wine country property’s front porch is the perfect spot to pop on a straw hat, pick up your binoculars, and enjoy the afternoon light while getting a closer look at the hummingbirds and butterflies who come to visit flowers in your garden.

We hope you’ll take a moment to read two fabulous articles recently published in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that speak to the importance of butterfly & hummingbird gardens.

Jon Dunn has written a book about all things hummingbird: The Glitter in the GreenFind the review and story here.

The butterfly and pollinator garden at Jordan Winery in Healdsburg, Sonoma County, was designed to encourage a trip around property to view the sanctuaries created for our pollinating friends.  Read the wonderful overview here.

Earth Day

A simple, meaningful afternoon project with mentors and mentees.

It is a joy to see such happy faces and to understand that this effort is truly making a contribution to the community and our greater ecosystem.

We were inspired by our surroundings as we created with enthusiasm this gift to benefit butterflies and hummingbirds in the Sonoma Valley and beyond.

Earth Day Gifts

Tina Baldry, the program director at the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance, spearheaded this project with Karin Campion Mattoon and myself.

We look forward to hearing from you with pictures and thoughts on how your garden grows.  Enjoy a beautiful Earth Day!

Oak Trees Among Us and Oak Gall Ink Painting

Winter in Sonoma and Napa Valleys is a beautiful balance between rest and activity.  We who live here are grateful for our homes and our gardens.  Nature is such a large part of life in these Valleys.  We know that the vines are resting all around us.  This visual and economic reality provides inspiration and sets the cadence of our days.  Also, gifting us with an ever-present reminder of the seasons in our lives.

As someone who circles around many lovely properties, large and small every day, I’d like to highlight the oak trees which are abundant in the Sonoma and Napa Valley.  These beautiful trees surround and add much to the homes, land and views.  In addition, I share with you how to re-use the oak galls which fall from these trees.  Following is a short video on how to gather and make your own ink from the galls which can be found in abundance under or around the branches.

First let me share a few noteworthy examples of the oak woodlands around estates, appreciated in landscaping and on the land.

Sonoma and Napa Valley oak trees across all seasons:

An inviting spot for a moments summer respite under the reach of these branches which so exquisitely provide shade on the land.

View of Sonoma Valley with oak trees on the valley floor and hills.

Handsome barn with a few mature trees.

Oak Trees

Fall in Napa Valley with oaks in the distance.

A lovely estate with a  graceful oak welcoming all as they arrive.

A simple place with an abundance of vistas and fresh air.  The perfect location to take in the winter sunshine with a friend.

This property is perfectly complete with a guest house and inviting sport court overlooking the Valley, offering both privacy and a breathtaking view.

A cozy cottage is nestled in the hillside with the trees protecting the patio behind, then framing the views to San Francisco and beyond.

The history of oak trees and their oak galls tells us that Renaissance artists collected the galls and created a rich ink for writing and painting.   Oak gall ink is derived from an organic growth on oak trees caused by a parasite wasp which lays its eggs on the bark.  Similar to what was used in the past, oak galls can be found today around the base of most oak trees.

Oak Gall Ink

This original drawing by Leonardo da Vinci is said to have been crafted using iron-gall ink, which is a slight variation of the recipe I share in the video below.

Also, the Leonardo da Vinci book A Closer Look, describes how Leonardo used iron-gall ink for his drawings, a pigment made from oak galls and iron salts that becomes transparent under infrared reflectography (IRR).   It is thought that the paintings and drawings of Durer, Rembrandt and Vincent van Gogh, as well as many score sheets of Bach’s heavenly music, were created with this ink.   

This medium is quite simple to make and is a way to reuse, recycle, and get closer to one of the most natural plus authentic parts of these very old trees.

I have used oak gall ink for years.  Here is a simple dog painting which was done rather quickly, you can see the depth that this organic material brings to the subject.  

Oak Gall Ink Painting

Quite fine pieces of the gall can be seen in the slightly grainy detail of this drawing.

This video shows you how you can make my recipe for oak gall ink at home in just a few steps.

Feel free to call me with any questions or comments on this recipe or your paintings.


For additional information,  a book from my library which shows many examples and details about Leonardo da Vinci’s work.

Enjoying the oak trees and making ink is both an activity and and an exercise in nourishing rest.  It is my hope that you may spend a few moments among these majestic trees and find the Art of Leisure wherever you are.

The story of a Barred owl and life on the land in Sonoma Valley

Land Sonoma Valley

It is in winter that we can most easily see the beautiful birds in our lives.  With the leaves having fallen, birds perch in the branches above us, happily talking or singing with their fellow feathered friends.  In the spirit of honoring their presence, I share with you the story of a Barred owl who was injured in Sonoma County, then patiently rehabilitated by an experienced falconer on land in Sonoma Valley which I recently had listed for sale and have since sold.  Paco the owl was initially found at a construction site, then brought to Bird Rescue Center of Sonoma County (BRC).  At the time he was given to the BRC, his injuries were substantial.  The full inspiring story of his recovery follows.

Here Paco sits contently, briefly gazing behind at what may be nearby before spreading his wings.

This Barred Owl, cared for by the BRC, is carefully tended by falconer Chris Melancon. The video below tells the story of Paco’s rehabilitation.

Sonoma Valley Land

A striking bird’s-eye view of the 8± acres of Sonoma land that became the perfect location for an owl to recover from it’s injuries and gain strength.  Within the foreground is the area in which Paco would exercise quite early, before dawn most mornings.  This property is on the scenic east side of Sonoma Valley, with an expansive viewshed that can be seen in the distance.

Sonoma Land

Just because we love the land in Sonoma and Napa Valley so much, here is an on-the-ground view of a potential building site.

Land in Sonoma

A full array of crops were grown on this land, in addition to being a space for Paco to practice flying once again.

Sharing a moment of sunshine with a few friends.

It is my hope that you have enjoyed this story and will contact the Bird Rescue Center nearest you whenever you find birds, including owls or hawks, in need of care.  Please feel free to reach out to this amazing organization in Sonoma County for more details or to inquire as to how you can support the honorable work they do.

Wishing you a lovely day.  Feel free to contact me anytime with comments or ideas.