All posts by Rebecca Flanegan

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.


Donate Now to The Gardens at Heather Farm
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Learn about Winter Blooming Plants at class on Nov. 5

One of the most common requests landscape gardeners hear from their clients is for year-round color. We are lucky that our climate allows us to grow plants and flowers for color as well as cutting in winter, spring, summer and fall. Even though we live in an area with winter frost and extreme summer heat, it is possible to fill our gardens and vases with foliage and flowers from the garden year round. We are also lucky we have experts like Kristin to show us many varieties of plants and flowers she has personally grown which are suitable for our chilly winter temperatures and rain. Join us on Saturday, November 5th, as Kristin lends some insight into bringing that oh-so-desirable “pop” of color to our winter gardens.

Field of yellow Cowslip flowers or Primula veris. Shallow depth of field.

Field of yellow Cowslip flowers or Primula veris. Shallow depth of field.

Kristin Yanker-Hansen, flower garden specialist, was born on the East Coast, but has spent more than half her life gardening in California where she has experimented with numerous plants in order to attain the nirvana of year round bloom. Kristin is the former President of the California Horticultural Society, the former Horticulture Chair for the California State Garden Club, and has written articles for Pacific Horticulture, as well as numerous newsletters. After years of offering her friends advice, Kristin went into business in 1995, specializing in flower gardening. In addition to year round color, she has developed plans for dry gardening and promotes organic gardening whenever possible.

Camellia blossoming in the Shade Garden

Photo: Kept in Time Photography

Sign Up for Winter Bloom Plants on Nov. 5!
Register Now

Nature Explorers Session Six “Underground” Theme Starts Oct. 18th!

Join our team of Nature Explorers, a weekly parent-child preschool program, for Session Six starting Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 10 a.m! In the final six-week session of the year, we’ll be doing some fun activities and “digging” into to things UNDERGROUND, exploring the world of gophers, worms, root vegetables, fossils, minerals and magma.

Nature Explorers features nature-themed stories, garden walks, hands-on activities, and fun projects, all designed for your curious preschooler and led by our amazing teachers. Light snacks provided.

  • Who: Children ages 2-5; parent participation required
  • What: Fun nature-inspired activities and garden exploration
  • When: Six 6-week sessions on Tuesdays, 10:00-11:30 a.m.
  • Where: The Gardens at Heather Farm, 1540 Marchbanks Drive, Walnut Creek
  • Why: Exciting activities that will inspire a greater appreciation of nature
  • How: Each 6-week session costs $80 for members and $100 for non-members.
  • Questions: Email or call 925-947-6712
  • Additional Info: Sign-in and snacks will be available starting 15 mins before start time and class will begin promptly at 10:00 a.m.
  • Max. Enrollment: 15 students per session
  • Siblings: Children under two years old may attend free of charge with their registered older sibling. Siblings over 2 years are eligible for a 10% discount. To register siblings, please call (925) 947-1678.
Come be a Nature Explorer with us!
Register Now

Teddy Bear Tea Tickets Now On Sale!

Get ready for the 21st Annual Teddy Bear Tea, coming to The Gardens on December 3rd and 4th! Our popular, holiday-themed fundraiser is a huge hit with children ages three to nine and sells out every year.

For this memorable family event, our Camellia Room (did you know that tea is made from Camellia leaves?) is decorated in festive holiday decor, and serves as the perfect setting for fancy tea service in delicate, rose-painted porcelain cups. With seasonal music playing in the background, children visit the “Boutique” which features stuffed bears, jewelry and the ever-popular “ribbon halos” for sale before heading downstairs to take special commemorative photos. A selection of teatime finger foods to please both children and adults is served, followed by a raffle of special prizes. There’s also time for storytelling and crafts, and every child receives a special goody bag to take home.

This event, organized through the efforts of a team of dedicated volunteers, has been a very special tradition shared by hundreds and hundreds of families over the last 20+ years, and raises funds to support our youth education programs.

So, bring out the grannies and aunties, gather the mommy & me playgroup, collect all the kiddies and come share in the fun at The Gardens this holiday season!

Tickets to Teddy Bear Tea Now On Sale!


Harvest Festival at The Gardens on Oct. 9th!

Come spend a day out with the family at The Gardens at Heather Farm for our annual Harvest Festival, where you can wander through our pumpkin patch, pick a pumpkin to take home, snap photos of the kids, dance to live music on the lawn, savor a great lunch and festive treats, and learn more about what makes The Gardens tick!

10170695_568530936578675_7024132024476880414_nPumpkins of various types and sizes will be available for sale in the garden. After gathering your pumpkin harvest, grab lunch courtesy of Taste of the World Market, a popular new food truck company specializing in bringing gourmet cuisines from around the world to our local communities.

11717480_1170087493008847_7033787346397081346_oEnjoy live music by award-winning, local acoustic Americana band, American Nomad as they bring their eclectic mix of bluegrass, folk, country and blues to fill The Gardens and keep those toes a-tappin’ throughout the day.

Kids of all ages will enjoy planting activities, games and fun crafts about how to start a garden led by our youth education staff.

Also featured: Bounce house, face-painting, healthy farmstand snacks, mini-photo sessions with a professional photographer (Kept in Time Photography), apple cider, apple doughnuts, and more!

Sunday, October 9 from 11am to 3pm
@ 1540 Marchbanks Drive, Walnut Creek

Admission fee of $6.00 per person to be collected at the door. Pumpkins, food, beverages and professional mini-photo sessions are available for purchase in addition to the entry fee. Free parking.

Proceeds benefit The Gardens’ youth education programs.

Leading a “Garden Revolution” from Your Own Backyard

Larry Weaner’s Revolutionary Landscapes: A Lecture and Book-Signing on September 29 @ The Gardens

Co-Presented by The Garden Conservancy and The Gardens at Heather Farm

This fall, The Gardens at Heather Farm is partnering with The Garden Conservancy ( to bring celebrated landscape designer, author and horticultural icon, Larry Weaner, to Walnut Creek to share his insights on how to change your garden — and the environment — for the better. On Thursday, September 29th, the program will feature a lecture by Mr. Weaner, followed by a special reception and signing of his new book Garden Revolution (May 2016, Timber Press).

A successful garden is rewarding, stimulating, and environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, traditional gardening practices don’t often deliver on that promise. Not only are these outdated methods resource- and time-consuming, they result in gardens that are weedy, labor-intensive, and at odds with wildlife and local ecosystems. For decades, Larry Weaner has been at the forefront of ecological landscape design. By understanding the ecological processes of change in our native landscapes and incorporating them into our designs, we can create beautiful, dynamic landscapes that require less labor and are more aesthetically rewarding and environmentally sound. Larry Weaner’s ideas apply in any climate and will change the way you think about what a garden should do and be. Forget about nonstop weeding, fertilizing, and watering. It’s time for a garden revolution.

Garden RevolutionFamous for his meadows, Larry Weaner is a leading figure in North American landscape design. He is the founder of the educational program series New Directions in the American Landscape, and his firm Larry Weaner Landscape Associates is known for combining ecological restoration with traditions of fine garden design. He has received the top three design awards from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. Learn more at

Larry Weaner’s Revolutionary Landscapes
Thursday, September 29, 2016, 7:00 p.m.
@ The Gardens at Heather Farm, 1540 Marchbanks Drive, Walnut Creek, 94598
Lecture at 7pm, book-signing and reception at 8pm

$25 General Public / $20 Members of The Gardens at Heather Farm

Register for the Larry Weaner Event Online Now!
Click Here