Strolling through the stunningly maintained natural landscapes that combine to comprise the Marin Art and Garden Center is a charming experience.
It invites members of the community to stop and smell the roses—quite literally.
“Due to the wet winter…[the garden] is at its peak in terms of blooms and color. The rose garden is particularly spectacular, also in full bloom,” said vice president of the board of trustees at Marin Art and Garden Center, Ned Purdom. “It is also a beneficiary of the heavy rains, and garden manager, Michael Bogart, expects that we will see roses until November.”
Even in a county as committed to art, nature and especially any combination of the two, it’s hard to believe that the perfect place for a promenade is so well hidden, tucked deep into the rolling hillsides of Ross. Blink for too long on the drive there and it is entirely possible to miss the unassuming turnoff, which would be a shame, as just beyond the gates awaits a world of wonders.
From seasonal gardens to rotating art exhibitions, and all the unique events in between that serve to add texture and character to an already impressive location—everything adds up to make the Marin Art and Garden Center a place in Marin to meander, to muse about life and its meaning or to simply meet up with loved ones and commemorate, commiserate or celebrate an occasion in style in the great outdoors.
“The Sun Garden, situated just below the fountain pond, is in full bloom now, showcasing a mix of perennials and pollinators, many of which are great in dry summers,” Purdom said. “The Edible Garden is producing lots of great produce—much of which is being donated to organizations like St. Vincent de Paul in San Rafael.”
Alongside the Edible Garden, the Marin Art and Garden Center also boasts a basketry garden, a habitat garden, a memory garden, a succulent garden, a sun garden, a propagation area and the aforementioned rose garden, which is indeed blooming beauteously at this very moment, with all 150-plus rose varieties showing off their various and vibrant colors.
The garden center also offers unique event opportunities, such as hosting private parties and events at guest request or with their own programs, like Yoga in the Garden. This weekly happening invites community members to gather by the gazebo on Wednesday afternoons to practice yoga on the lawn with locally known instructor Itzik Laron.
Between yoga, weddings and work parties, visitors may also experience the garden center’s relaxing water features, including creeks and ponds, as well as the featured trees: Dawn redwood, English oak, Magnolia Circle, Mission pear and giant sequoia. Buildings at the garden center include (but are far from limited to) the barn, the gazebo and the Redwood Amphitheater.
“We wanted to create a fundraising event that would showcase the entire property, from the Studio area and the magnificent English oak to the Gazebo lawn, the Edible Garden and the fountain pond and finally to the Livermore celebration area,” Purdom said. “Guests will stroll through the property, enjoying food and drink from local culinary artisans, while enjoying different music along the way.”
The Edible Garden fundraising event will take place on Oct. 15 and offers the community a chance to come out and try various edible delights from the Marin Art and Garden Center grounds. This includes, of course, culinarily intriguing cocktail ingredients and garnishes that can be picked, pulled or otherwise plucked directly from the dirt to be put into a drink.
“We’re very excited to present Edible Garden this year, a one-of-a-kind fundraiser,” director of events Iris Lax said. “Edible Garden will showcase this beautiful property here at Marin Art and Garden Center while we stroll from location to location, savor delicious cuisine and libations from local restaurants and wineries, enjoy botanical cocktails and listen to live music. Truly an unforgettable culinary adventure that will be filled with surprises!”
The current summertime art exhibition at the Marin Art and Garden Center is called “Noble Art.” The “Noble Art” exhibition runs through Aug. 27 and includes work from the College of Marin, its faculty and its students, all of which are closely tied with the garden center, both geographically and in spirit.
“From the opening reception, attended by scores of colleagues and former students, and attendance throughout the run, it is readily apparent that the College of Marin is a very special place for nurturing young artistic talent,” Purdom explained. “There is a long, intertwined history of collaboration between the center and College of Marin. College of Marin art students are weekly visitors to the center, painting the gardens, the buildings and the visitors.”
For the coming autumn season, the garden center has in store the much-anticipated return of its 26th annual Exhibition of the American Society of Botanical Artists. From the middle of September through to Nov. 26, garden center guests can take in local and global renditions of botanical art and artists, all with additional exhibition-associated workshops and classes. The exhibition, classes and more take place (of course) amidst the center’s sprawling garden grounds.
“The work is breathtaking in its detail and scientific accuracy,” said Purdom. “The patience required to produce these works is amazing. While it is an international exhibition, showcasing botanical art from around the world, local artists—and local flora—will also be represented.”
“The International Exhibition of Botanical Art is one of our favorite exhibitions at Marin Art and Garden Center,” said Katy Negrin, who handles the more administrative aspects at the garden center. “The level of detail in these works by artists from around the globe is just breathtaking, precisely capturing botanical features in watercolor, gouache, colored pencil or charcoal. This year…over 50 artists’ work will be on display in the studio here.”
Whether garden guests are simply looking to walk around the grounds, view some art or sit in silence in a peaceful place, the Marin Art and Garden Center is well-equipped for the occasion. So, it’s time to break out those calendars and start to consider what upcoming exhibitions, events and seasonal garden views appeal the most because, with August’s end, autumn is just around the corner.
The Marin Art and Garden Center is located at 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in Ross and is open every day of the week from sunrise until sunset. For more information about ongoing or future programs at the art and garden center, or to check out the online event calendar, visit the website at maringarden.org or call 415.455.5260.