All posts by Rebecca Flanegan

Planting seeds for our future

At the Gardens, we embrace every opportunity to educate those around us about the many benefits of nature. Studies have shown that fewer Americans have a relationship with nature than ever before in the history of our nation and that a connection with nature is vital for a person’s health and well-being.

Gardens like ours provide powerful health benefits, offering a setting for exercise, inspiration and relaxation, all known to lower stress levels and increase feelings of happiness. Gardens like ours serve as a living classroom to educate visitors about our natural world. Gardens like ours create a sense of purpose, a place to plant seeds.

Through the generous support of our donors, we planted many seeds in 2017:

  • Delivered environmental science programs to over 17,000 K-5 students in Contra Costa County, providing instruction on pollination, composting, the water cycle, plant anatomy and more
  • Encouraged the next generation of nature lovers with our weekly preschool programs about water, weather, wildlife, and the natural world they impact
  • Celebrated diversity and cultural expression in our community as a venue for hundreds of weddings, memorials, meetings and social gatherings
  • Created unforgettable moments for a wide range of visitors from all over the Bay Area with engaging classes, striking garden exhibits, and inspiring events

By making an end-of-year gift, YOU help plant a seed that will make a difference:

  • Every seed planted about nature in a child’s mind continues to impact their lives forever and therefore helps to ensure the protection of our environment.
  • Every seed planted provides a pesticide-free safe haven for birds, bees, butterflies and bugs, which have a critical role in keeping our environment healthy.
  • Every seed planted enhances our exquisite venue creating truly unique events and lasting memories for everyone in our community.
  • Every seed planted and nurtured enriches the beauty and serenity of the gardens and provides a beneficial oasis for all visitors.

Right now at the Gardens, construction is underway on three new capital improvement projects: A new greenhouse/shade house complex to support our propagation program, horticulture classes and plant sales; a new community garden for local families to grow their own food and garden with their children; and a new Children’s Garden, with surprise must-see features sure to delight and inspire our youngest visitors!

Make your gift TODAY and plant more seeds for the future!

New Garden Map Donated by Guida Surveying Inc.

Early in 2017, we found ourselves desperate for an updated topographical map of our garden. As a non-profit, we are at the mercy of donors to support much of our capital improvements. One of those marked improvements was a new Children’s Garden area, complete with an adorable “Hobbit House,” butterfly display area and other interactive nature features for children and their families. After much work courting donors and generating public interest, we received enough funding to approve the Children’s Garden project. However, before the project could officially move forward, one of our last remaining needs was new mapping of the property so the area could be properly designed.

A Board member reached out to Guida Surveying who graciously offered to visit The Gardens and assess our needs for the project. What transpired from then on was so completely beyond our expectations! Upon meeting with our staff, Guida realized the current mapping for our entire 6-1/2 acre property was so out of date, it was rendered useless. Guida quickly offered to map the entire property for us and did so in time to meet our needs for the children’s garden. But that wasn’t all. Upon speaking with our staff to understand about all of our programs and garden uses, Guida performed a host of other deliverables to allow us to do so much more than we ever thought possible.

Here at The Gardens, we are proud of the impact we are making connecting and educating thousands of people about nature, while continuing to sustain the environment every year with our free, public garden. In 2017 alone, we reached over 17,000 school children in Contra Costa County with our natural and environmental science programs. Thanks to the generosity of firms like Guida, we can continue, and now improve, our efforts.

22nd Annual Teddy Bear Tea SOLD OUT!

Experience a WINTER WONDERLAND in Walnut Creek at the 22nd Annual Teddy Bear Tea, where snowflakes hover overhead, evergreen trees twinkle with lights, and bears and other woodland animals share in a holiday-inspired tea party with you and your family.

Enjoyed by everyone from tiniest tot to the tallest and wisest of grown-ups, Teddy Bear Tea has been a tradition for over 20 years, gathering the community together during the holidays and raising much-needed funds for our nonprofit organization.

Jodi Foucher Photography

Guests share in a variety of savories, sandwiches and sweet treats, as well as a visit to “Bearland” for story time, crafts and a special holiday-themed photo opportunity. Kids can wear their “fancy dress,” practice party etiquette and drink real (decaffinated) tea or juice in china cups.

Each of the four tea times features a unique, custom menu designed specifically for the Teddy Bear Tea event and presented by one of our professional catering sponsors.

12/2 @ 11:00 a.m. Menu provided by Sunrise Bistro & Catering
12/2 @ 3:00 p.m. Menu provided by Absolute Celebrations Catering
12/3 @ 11:00 a.m. Menu provided by Checkers Catering
12/3 @ 3:00 p.m. Menu provided by Salt & Honey Catering


After enjoying the tasty tea buffet, enter the raffle for a chance to win fun prizes, including American Girl dolls, Disneyland tickets, gingerbread houses, toy baskets and more, and then purchase teddy bears, handmade jewelry, lavender wands and the ever-popular ribbon “halos” from the Holiday Boutique. And all kids take home party favors.

The annual Teddy Bear Tea event is made possible through the support of our sponsors and many volunteers. Proceeds go directly to support the education and garden programs at The Gardens at Heather Farm.


Advanced reservations are required. Seatings are at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. each day. While all ages are welcome, this event is ideal for children ages 3-9. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets are non-refundable.

Teddy Bear Tea 2017 is SOLD OUT!
Thanks for your support!

We’d like to thank our Teddy Bear Tea Sponsors:





Pumpkin & Plant Sale!

Celebrate the arrival of autum! Head on down to The Gardens to pick up some plants and vine-grown pumpkins for the season on Sunday, October 8th, 10am to 2pm, rain or shine.

Stock up for your fall planting with many unique plant species and varieties for sale in 4″ pots and gallons. Plus, take a stroll through our hillside pumpkin patch and pick your own pumpkin (or two) to take home!

Our amazing Garden Manager, Jere, will be on hand to assist you with plant selection and answer questions. And remember to thank all the hard-working plant sale volunteers who help make this event possible.

Members receive 10% off their purchases!
Proceeds benefit our nonprofit public garden & education center.

Sunday, October 8th, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
In the Main Garden Area behind the building
1540 Marchbanks Drive, Walnut Creek


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
Advance registration now closed!

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 – Changing Directions, Shifting Views
Cheryl Buckwalter, President and Principal, Landscape Liasions
Part 3: New Plants, Multiple Benefits
Rebecca Sweet, landscape designer and author

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 (APLD) California Chapter, The Gardens at Heather Farm, and Pacific Horticulture Society. Discount on registration fees offered to members of these organizations.

Seminar offers 3.75 CEU credits for APLD. Application form for CEU credits will be available at seminar check-in.

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