All posts by Rebecca Flanegan

Tiffanie Turner Book Tour Comes to The Gardens Sep. 14th!

Celebrated SF-based botanical artist, Tiffanie Turner unveils her new book, The Fine Art of Paper Flowers

The Gardens at Heather Farm is honored to present renowned San Francisco-based botanical artist, Tiffanie Turner for a book release, lecture and demonstration event on Thursday, September 14th. Publishing in August, Tiffanie’s new book, The Fine Art of Paper Flowers, is an inspiring, practical, and gorgeous guide to crafting the most realistic and artful paper flowers. Her coast-to-coast book tour during the month of September includes only six select engagements: Walnut Creek, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, and New York City.

In The Fine Art of Paper Flowers, author and instructor Tiffanie Turner provides a step-by-step guide for creating stunning, widely admired paper creations, including her famous giant peony, plus instructions for turning paper flowers into gorgeous garlands, headdresses, bouquets, and more.

At the event on September 14th, guests will enjoy a lively presentation on techniques for making artful paper flowers and watch Tiffanie as she showcases some of her amazing botanical art.​

The Fine Art of Paper Flowers: Book Release, Lecture & Demonstration with Tiffanie Turner
Thursday, September 14, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Event Admission Only: $15 Public | $10 Members
Event Admission & Book Package: $35 Public | $30 Members
Don’t miss Tiffanie Turner on September 14th!

S’mores at Sundown Returns July 27th!

Relish in the joys of a warm summer night with treats and outdoor activities for families in a beautiful garden setting!

After hosting hundreds of enthusiastic parents, grandparents and kids last summer, the popular “S’mores at Sundown” event returns to The Gardens on Thursday, July 27th from 6-8pm for its third year with another magical evening of homemade s’mores, live music, crafts, games and stories. And now, hungry families can enjoy slices of pizza before roasting their s’mores!

Kids will love wandering garden paths, making nature crafts, and dancing on the lawn to popular, family-friendly tunes by local singer/songwriter, Rebecca Jensen. Bring a blanket or portable chairs to picnic while enjoying your treats.

View Event on Facebook
Admission fee paid at the door includes food and activities:
  • $5.00 per person for S’mores Pack (comes with one s’mores-making kit)
  • $10.00 per person for S’mores & Pizza Pack (comes with one s’mores-making kit, two slices of pizza, and a bottle of water)
  • Kids under age two are free (event admission only, no food packs)
  • Cash and credit card accepted

All proceeds from this event go to support the nonprofit public garden, nature education center and special event venue, The Gardens at Heather Farm.

Landscape Design Seminar Coming October 12th!

Renovating the Mature Landscape: Resources and Inspiration for a Beautiful Sustainable Garden

Get a fresh perspective that will inspire your landscape work with clients or at home in your personal garden. Join us for a full-day seminar on Thursday, October 12th, as three industry experts share their knowledge and provide tips for restoring and rejuvenating mature garden landscapes. See how an out-dated and aging area of The Gardens property is transformed into an updated, sustainable space using the techniques discussed.

This once under-utilized backyard has been reinvented into a vibrant outdoor living space. Garden design & photo: Katie Creighton

Part 1: Site Analysis
Laura Forlin, Department Co-Chair, Landscape Horticulture Department at Merritt College
Part 2: 21st Century Infrastructure
Cheryl Buckwater, president, EcoLandscape California Board
Part 3: New Plants, Multiple Benefits
Rebecca Sweet, APLD landscape designer

The seminar concludes with a self-guided tour of the newly-renovated landscape at The Gardens.

Registration includes a catered lunch, coffee/cold drinks throughout the day, and a post-seminar wine reception in the garden. Free parking is available on-site and adjacent to The Gardens.

Sponsored by the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, The Gardens at Heather Farm, and Pacific Horticulture Society. Discount on registration fees offered to members of these organizations.

Thursday, October 12th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
$100 Members of Participating Organizations
$120 General Public

Join us for the Renovating the Mature Landscape Seminar
Register Now!

Artist in Residence Program Debuts in June

Botanical weaver, Julia Wilson, is The Gardens first resident artist in June/July 2017.

Bringing inspiring Bay Area artistic talent to the six acres of lush, natural landscapes at The Gardens at Heather Farm, our Artist in Residence program supports the creation of innovative and transformative artworks which inspire both artist and visitor to engage with the natural world.​

Our first featured artist debuting in June is Oakland-based botanical weaver, Julia Wilson. As part of her continuing series, Weaving the Grasses of America, Julia will create unique, site-specific plant weavings using garden waste material and trimmings. This ongoing series shows a woven, map-like path of a walk through a particular environment. By weaving the grasses in the order they were found, she records footsteps through time and place, and asks questions about native and non-native species.

Visitors are invited to watch Julia’s artistic process at work during free “open studio” on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings through June and July. She’ll be out in the garden spaces showcasing her art and will be available for observation and questions.

Artist in Residence: June/July 2017
JULIA WILSON, Botanical Weaver
Free Open Studio: Thursdays, 6-8 p.m. & Saturdays, 9-11 a.m. *No viewing 7/20 & 7/22

Tips for Visiting During Wedding Season

Flower fans and garden walkers aren’t the only ones looking to enjoy our beautiful spaces (especially the rose garden) — during prime blooming season from April through November, our property is host to over 75 weddings annually.

When private event clients have reserved The Gardens, we are typically closed to the public for several hours, but if you make proper arrangements, you can find the right time to visit.

Here are some tips for making sure you get to enjoy our lovely garden-scapes during wedding season:

  • Plan ahead, call ahead: If you know you want to visit The Gardens, pick a date a week or more in advance, and give us call (925) 947-1678 or email us to find out if we’ll be open for visitors. Our office hours are Mon-Fri 9am to 4pm, and Sat 9am to 1pm, closed Sunday.
  • Avoid weekend afternoons: Most weddings occur on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the late afternoon/early evening, so the garden areas are typically closed on those days from 2-3pm until around 6-7pm. Some occasional weekend mornings are also closed between 8am and 12pm.
  • Check the rental calendar: We have an online calendar posting which weekend dates our venue is booked for a private event. On these days, afternoon hours for the public will be limited. Review dates.
  • Check the signs: On wedding day, we usually post sings around the parking area and entrance to the property advising if/when we will be closed to visitors.

So, whether you’re bringing a group of relatives from out of town, planning a special date with a special someone, or taking your kids out for some fresh air, we hope these tips will make arranging your visit to The Gardens more fruitful!

New Season of Nature Explorers Opens in March!

Fun Weekly Classes for Preschoolers

Beginning in March, we’ll be welcoming our Nature Explorers families back to The Gardens to kick off the third year of this exciting educational program for children ages two to five! Featuring themes such as Wacky Weather, Around the Garden, Endangered Animals, Journey Around the Word and more, these engaging weekly classes offer nature-themed stories, garden walks, hands-on activities, and fun projects led by our amazing teachers. Six six-week sessions run from March 21st through November 28th.


Session 1: Wacky Weather, 3/21-4/25
Session 2: Endangered Animals, 5/2-6/6
Session 3: Journey Around the World, 6/13-7/25 (no class on 7/4)
Session 4: Around the Garden, 8/1-9/5
Session 5: Flight, 9/12-10/17
Session 6: Plants Around Us, 10/24-11/28
Advanced Registration for Each 6-Week Session: $80 Members / $100 Public
Single-Class Drop-in Rate: $15 Members / $20 Public
Are You a Nature Explorer? Join Our Class & Find Out!
Learn More

Spring Plant Sale – Saturday, April 29th from 8am to Noon

It’s time once again to welcome new plants into your home gardens, and what better way to stock your spaces than with a selection of unique specimens grown by the propagation team at The Gardens!

The winter brought us much rain, and the spring offers soft soil and sunshine perfect for planting, so let’s get started.

Some highlights of what you’ll be able to find:

Join us in the parking lot at The Gardens on Saturday, April 29th between 8am and 12pm.

More details to come…

Harvest Authors Unveil New Book, Perform Demo on March 10th

A Lecture and Demonstration with Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis

San Francisco-based authors and landscape designers unveil their new book, HARVEST, on March 10th at 1:00 p.m.

The Gardens at Heather Farm and The Garden Conservancy welcome authors Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis (photo above by David Fenton) to talk about their new book Harvest: Unexpected Projects Using 47 Extraordinary Garden Plants set for release next month. This practical, inspirational, and seasonal guide will help make any garden more productive and enjoyable with a variety of projects–organic pantry staples, fragrances, floral arrangements, beverages, cocktails, beauty products, and more–using unexpected and often common garden plants. Enjoy a lively discussion on how to turn your backyard garden into a treasure-trove of useful plants, and watch Stefani and Alethea perform live demonstrations of some of their favorite practical botanical transformations.​
When: Friday, March 10th at 1:00 p.m.
Where: Camellia Room @ The Gardens at Heather Farm
What: 30-minute lecture, followed by project demonstrations, book signing and reception
How: Reserve your spot online, $5.00 for GHF Members, $15 General Public
Register for the Harvest event on March 10th!
Sign Up Now

About the authors/presenters
STEFANI BITTNER and ALETHEA HARAMPOLIS are the owners of Homestead Design Collective, a San Francisco Bay Area landscape design firm. Bittner is co-author of The Beautiful Edible Garden and Harampolis is co-author of the bestselling The Flower Recipe Book and The Wreath Recipe Book, and a co-founder/owner of
the floral design company Studio Choo.

About the book
Every garden—not just vegetable plots—can produce a bountiful harvest. In this beautifully photographed guide to growing, harvesting, and utilizing 47 unexpected plants, gardeners discover the surprising usefulness of petals and leaves, roots, seeds, and fruit. Turn tumeric root into a natural dye and calamintha into lip balm. Make anise hyssop into a refreshing iced tea and turn apricots into a facial mask. Crabapple branches can be used to create stunning floral arrangements, oregano flowers to infuse vinegar, and edible chrysanthemum to liven up a salad.

Harvest: Unexpected Projects Using 47 Extraordinary Garden Plants
By Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis
$22.00 hardcover (Can $29.00), 224 pages, 150 full-color photographs, 7-1/4 x 10 inches. ISBN: 978-0-399-57833-5; eBook ISBN: 978-1-60774-861-8.
Gardening – Herbs; Published by Ten Speed Press; On-Sale Date: February 7, 2017

Happy Holidays from The Gardens!

The year 2016 was a marvelous one at The Gardens at Heather Farm! We had a record-breaking year of weddings & private parties, hosted several hugely-popular family events (S’mores at Sundown, Harvest Festival, Teddy Bear Tea) that raised lots of money for our programs, inspired thousands of local school children in classrooms and on field trips, added some truly excellent new staff members, and every day continued the crusade to spread awareness and appreciation for our natural world.

​From all of us at The Gardens at Heather Farm, thank you for being a part of our adventures this year and the ones before, and we wish you a wonderful holiday season. Cheers to even better things in 2017!

Featured in the photo above is the majestic Colorado Blue Spruce that sits on the crown of the hill in our Rockery garden (across the eastward path from the gazebo), reigning over the succulents and cacti. We thought this tree was the perfect specimen to match with festive adornments!

​Our building and offices will be closed for the holidays from December 24 through January 2, but the garden areas will be open for viewing daily from sunrise to sunset. Bring your friends and family visiting from out of town and come take a walk around. You’ll be glad you did!​


Generosity grows support. Show yours on #GivingTuesday and benefit nature-based garden programs.

At The Gardens, we believe that every child should spend quality time outdoors engaged with nature. Over the past 25 years, we have brought natural and environmental science classes and other garden programs to over 250,000 students, teachers and families. We hope to raise $10,000 on #GivingTuesday to help encourage people in our community to explore the natural world around them.


#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of a unique blend of partners—charities, families, businesses, and individuals—to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, this year—November 29, 2016, to kick-off the holiday giving season and to inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities and to give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they support. Currently, more than 45,000 corporate and nonprofit organizations in over 71 countries have participated in the initiative.

Seeing an opportunity to channel the generous spirit of the holiday season and to inspire action around charitable giving, a group of friends and partners, led by the 92nd Street Y (92Y), came together to find ways to promote and celebrate the great American tradition of giving. Thought leaders in philanthropy, social media, and grassroots organizations joined with 92Y to explore what is working in modern philanthropy and how to expand these innovations throughout the philanthropic sector. “It’s been a privilege to work with remarkable leaders all over the country building a movement around #GivingTuesday,” said Henry Timms, 92Y’s Executive Director and founder of #GivingTuesday. “This initiative has truly been crowd-sourced by some of the smartest and most connected minds among the next generation of philanthropists and entrepreneurs.”

On #GivingTuesday November 29th, help us meet our goal to engage our local youth with the environment and bring nature-based programs to the community.


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