Thursday, January 27, 2011

Winter Fragrance at Elizabeth Gamble Garden

The Elizabeth Gamble Garden in Palo Alto, California is a historic urban estate built near Stanford University in 1902. It is now the home of a nonprofit horticultural foundation, and its mature woodland, formal and working gardens provide education and beauty to the community.

The Association of Professional Landscape Designers meets regularly at Gamble, so I've been able to visit in all seasons. (I was actually married there once, but that's a different story!) Today it was particularly beautiful, as winter-blooming shrubs are luxuriating in our recent warm spell. This hedge of camellias was screaming for attention, so my camera and I excused ourselves for a moment...

Isn't it stunning? Camellia japonica are one of our earliest bloomers, often starting right after Christmas. Carefully maintained by staff and volunteers, these hedges are light and yet covered with bloom for weeks.

And the fragrance! The warmth of the day brought out scents from all over the garden, including this Magnolia soulangiana in full bloom.

Oh, Daphne! So finicky, but when you're happy, everybody's happy...

The most fragrant thing around, however, was this Mahonia siamensis...yum!

The bees agreed!

This patch of Kniphofia offered an unexpected touch of warmth...

While a large clump of Elegia capensis cooled things down again.

Beautiful Leucadendron towers overhead.

We have time for one, sweet whiff of Sarcococca as the meeting is about to start; what a glossy beauty this is.

If you are ever in the neighborhood, treat yourself to a visit to this lovely garden. Their Spring Tour (April 29-30) explores the diverse gardens of the Palo Alto area, and is enjoyed each year by thousands of Bay Area gardeners. Add it to your spring calendar if you can!


  1. Just stunning...I can't wait for our neighbor's Daphne to bloom again, I can smell it all the way across the street!

  2. Isn't it? Daphne is one of my favorite scents (it was hard not to pinch a sprig!)

  3. Thank you for sharing this gem of a garden. Now I have a new garden to visit while in CA.

  4. Robert, come out for the SF Garden Show in March, I'm sure there will be pilgrimages to lots of places happening at the same time!

  5. These are beautiful! No gardening for me yet...but curious what makes your Daphne so happy?

  6. Oh, I love Gamble! One of my favorite places (do try to come back when the weeping cherries are blossoming)

  7. Ah what a lovely post about winter fragrance. In my zone10 only dombeya is the one showing winter fragrance.

  8. Oooh such awesome goodies!! This seems like a great deal..Adrienne Vittadini