Cornerstone Garden Grasses

Sonoma’s Cornerstone Gardens is one of my very favorite public gardens to visit any time of year.  In my opinion, though, the fall is the best time of all.

Not only are the summer crowds long gone but the colors of fall are just beginning to explode.  No longer filled with grapes, the surrounding vineyards shimmer with shades of gold and red, and fall’s soft and slanted sunlight peeks through the olive trees.

And to top things off, the grasses (which have remained a steady source of green and gold throughout the year) are blooming and in their full glory.

Grasses weave and wander throughout the different gardens helping to create  a seamless transition from one space to another.

It was such a surprise to walk around the corner and see this fairly new installation, titled ‘Red Lantern’, created by Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot.


Their description of the garden sums it up best:

The garden utilizes several Chinese-inspired elements referencing the migrant workers who came to California during the mid-19th century Gold Rush and stayed to build the Central Pacific Railroad.’

 The reflections in the water are nothing short of mesmerizing.Okay, back to the grasses again….

The casual meadow, with sculptural balls created by artist Maurice Connolly, provides a visual break, bridging the gap between gardens.



My very favorite garden of all is the Mediterranean Meadow, created by John Greenlee.

His skillful combination of grasses leaves me breathless every time I visit.

The pennisetum ‘Tall Tails’ in its prime, heavy with softy arching, chenille-like inflourescens.

The smaller, upright carex divulsa (Berkeley Sedge) further emphasizes the layered effect of this meadow.Don’t you just want to run like a kid down the pathway, hand outstretched as you go? Carex divulsa with California poppies – one of my favorite native combos ever.
The Juncus polyanthemos offers a welcome shot of color mixed throughout the many shades of green and gold of the other grasses.

Lots of visual motion going on here, too, with its stiff and upright form.  Sort of a ‘fireworks’ effect, don’t you think?

I love how dew clings to the brown seedheads of the juncus, creating a sparkling diamond effect.
In my opinion, I can’t imagine this sculpture anywhere else but nestled here among the grasses.  It’s all I can do keep myself from laying down next to her.

If you’re ever in Sonoma, you really should try and stop by Cornerstone – you won’t be disappointed!

8 Responses to Cornerstone Garden Grasses

  1. Laura says:

    Thanks for introducing this garden to me. I am in love with grasses, they are so elegant. I agree with both the running with an outstretched arm and with the position of the woman sculpture, she is sleeping in a bed of grass.


    • Hi Laura – thanks! That’s one thing I love about Cornerstone – they really encourage you to explore within the gardens (so running with outstretched arms wouldn’t be considered completely crazy!!) Glad you enjoyed the post!

  2. Hope says:

    I love getting to see the gardens in the Sonoma Valley and other parts of Californea. Beautiful.

  3. [...] this week I wrote about my visit to Cornerstone Gardens and showed you the Red Lantern garden created by the amazing duo Andy Cao and Xavier [...]

  4. Pam/Digging says:

    I’m hoping to see this place when I come for the Garden Bloggers Fling next June!