Tag Archives: Cornerstone Gardens Sonoma

Yucca ‘Blue Boy’

I’ve brought a couple home under the name Yucca aloifolia ‘Purpurea,’ but I’ve recently been seeing it tagged as Yucca desmetiana ‘Blue Boy,’ as it was here at Cornerstone Sonoma, in the Transcendence garden designed by Delmar McComb and Peter Hanson. This yucca’s soft, recurved leaves are very unlike the typically stiff leaves of Yucca aloifolia, so we seem to be shuttling between various names until the nomenclature is definitively settled. Mine haven’t colored up like these yet, which is a big part of the allure of this mysterious yucca.


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Background shrubs are phlomis, rosemary and leucadendron.

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fall-blooming salvias and where to find some

I’ve been trying to scale the garden down, which means there will be no shed-sized, fall-blooming salvias this year like…


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Salvia involucrata, Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden, the rosebud sage. Some of the salvias like a bit more moisture than I’m doling out lately, and this one would fall into that group.

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The bog sage, Salvia uliginosa, at Cornerstone Sonoma. As its name suggests, it doesn’t mind moist soil but can manage in surprisingly dry conditions too.

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Bog sage leaning into frame with potted Eucomis and Scotch moss, sedum, Japanese anenomes, Cornerstone Sonoma

Size or water constraints won’t stop me from having a look at salvia offerings at the fall plant sales. Out of an estimated 700 to 900 species, there’s one for every situation. Colors are always intense, stems always squared. Since hummingbirds are helpless before the tubular siren call of salvias, be sure to include a seat nearby to enjoy the air show.

Here’s a gallery of salvias from gardens past, fall bloomers and otherwise. My garden unless otherwise indicated.

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Salvia africana-lutea, 2/26/13 (removed because it was crowding Phylica pubescens, which has since died. And so it goes…)

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Salvia reptans ‘West Texas Form,’ slim and upright. September 2012

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Salvia sclarea ‘Piemont.’ The biennial clary sage is famous for reseeding (in every garden but mine. And so it goes…) July 2012

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Salvia canariensis var. candissima, June 2012. Outsized, shrub-like. Very drought tolerant.

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May 2011

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Salvia macrophylla, September 2010. Large, sprawling, always presentable, with leaves clothing stems down to the ground. Not the heaviest bloomer for me though.

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Salvia littae, November 2011.

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Salvia madrensis, November 2011

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Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish,’ September 2011. Constant and dependable bloomer. We took this year off from each other so I could make room for something touchy and undependable. And so it goes…

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Salvia ‘Waverly,’ July 2011. Utterly dependable. One of the best for Southern California.

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July 2010

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Salvia cacaliifolia, June 2011. The agave now resides in my neighbor’s garden.

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August 2010

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Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’ at the Huntington June 2011

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Salvia wagneriana, April 2011. If you have the space, this salvia is known for blooming during Southern California’s winter

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Salvia leucantha, Longwood Gardens, November 2010

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Salvia van houttei, Longwood Gardens, November 2010

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Salvia elegans ‘Golden Delicious’ Longwood Gardens, November 2010

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Salvia ‘Limelight,’ October 2010

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Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain,’ June 2010, blooms most of the summer

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Salvia clevelandii, June 2013, a California native, in a local hellstrip


In Southern California, a good place to find salvias is at Fullerton Arboretum’s salvia sale, September 21 and 22, 2013.

raise the red lantern

More photos from MB Maher as he meanders north of San Francisco, these from Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma, California, a collection of outdoor gardens inspired by the International Garden Festival at Chaumont-sur-Loire, curated by owner Teresa Raffo.

I haven’t been back yet to Cornerstone to see Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot’s “Red Lantern,” the second of their chicken-wire-and-crystal installations at Cornerstone, a companion piece to “Bai Yun” (“White Cloud”), so I was excited to see what Mitch’s photos would reveal. Andy Cao says “Red Lantern,” installed summer 2011, was probably inspired by his empathy for the experiences of Chinese railroad laborers in 19th Century America, in which he found an echo for his own sense of displacement as a Vietnamese refugee. (For me a red lantern will forever be associated with the 1991 Chinese film by Zhang Yimou, “Raise the Red Lantern,” on the queue for repeat viewing tonight.) Railroad tracks lead to a giant lantern glittering with red crystals, which may or may not allude to traditional Chinese wedding headdresses. While I’m strongly attracted to the seductive, sparkling details of “Red Lantern,” overall I prefer “White Cloud” in a landscape — less specific, more dreamy.

This photo from the Cornerstone website conveys the general outlines of “Red Lantern.”


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But as these photos from MB Maher illustrate, Cao and Perrot’s intention is to create a work where the viewer can “Step inside a painting and experience it themselves.” Lauren Reed-Guy for San Francisco Chronicle.

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In the end, the only thing I need is my intuition and how I see and that’s it. The rest? I just make things,’ says Cao, who draws his inspiration from art, poetry, music, fashion and photography.” (Meg McConahey for the Press Democrat)

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I don’t find sculptural art essential to a garden, but appreciate how a garden — the horizon, earth, water, wind, sunlight and shadow — can be essential to the expression of some artists, and I love how Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot play with these elements.

“White Cloud”

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When you see these two materials, crystals and chicken wire, they have nothing in common, he says. But when you put them together, something happens. By taking things out of their context, you give them a whole new application and association.
(Meg McConahey for the Press Democrat)

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Cao and Perrot work out of Cao Perrot Studio.