Gardens and Gardening; Thoughts From Our Head Gardener


The gardens at McEvoy Ranch are little miracles of thoughtful, conscientious organic gardening.

Planted with a farmer's perspective, they are orchestrated to maintain a balance between the now and the coming soon, blending colors, aromas and geometry that transition and evolve throughout the year. These are to gardens what Claude Monet is to painters; the sunlight shifts and the sunflowers strike a new pose.

I recently asked the one responsible for these treasures, our Head Gardener, Patty Hawkley, to explain a bit about what's exciting her in the gardens right now.

We're coming into the summer months after a wild winter of heavy rains followed by a week or two of record-setting heat. Herewith some of her thoughts: Our Cupani sweet peas have been blooming for about two weeks now. These are always very bright, colorful and their smell is heavenly. Our Dahlias, Zinnias, Marigolds, and Cosmos are just starting to bloom. We’ll have many varieties of Dahlias, and lots of them! Also blooming in the Kitchen Garden…Agrostemma, Strawflowers (these are a dry flower that are great for wreaths, and hold their color for months), Eryngium (another favorite, blue in color, great for dried, and are sticker like, but unusually very cool), Stalk, Alstromeria, Purple Statice (also a great dried flower we use for florals and wreath making). McEvoy-Ranch-Dahlia I’m really excited about a new line of Hypericum planted below the fruit orchard. This is a perennial that was propagated using cuttings from established plants down by the Lake Cottage. They have adorable yellow flowers that are starting to bloom now. After blooming the blossoms turn into red round balls that are also great for florals.

The Kitchen Garden is surprisingly a little different this year.

I’ve had a tendency to let it do its own thing to some extent. In the past, the individual beds have been very apparent, very separate. This year if something decided to “volunteer”, whether it be inside or outside an existing bed and wasn’t disturbing or taking over, I let it go. I feel that if something really wanted to be/grow and was successful in doing so, I let it grow! For example, there are violas growing everywhere throughout the KG. They are very sweet and have filled in between many beds. We didn’t plant them, they just “volunteered”. So the Kitchen Garden is much fuller and a little wilder this year. McEvoy-Ranch-Viola-Flower The heat has made everything take off. The sunflowers have shot up overnight. Everything has really taken off and are well on their way, blooming and growing. With many microclimates at the ranch, the Kitchen Garden is always one of the warmest areas. I am really excited by the lavender hill this year! It’s been two years in the making, replanting, weeding and adding a thick layer of arbor mulch. It’s really filled in nicely and will be in full bloom and glory for hopefully through the middle of July. McEvoy-Ranch-Lavender-Hill Last year I purchased 200 Tuberose bulbs from Strong Arm Farm in Sebastopol. There’s a new bed in the Kitchen Garden to the right of the outdoor oven. They are just starting to bloom. These are white stalks/stems/spikes about 18” tall and have an incredibly sweet aroma. Tours of the gardens are available during the year; you can book a tour here. McEvoy-Ranch-Kitchen-Garden