I don't know about you, but I'm a sucker for Spring time in Northern California.
As wild flowers carpet the hillsides, citrus trees filling the air with sweet-smelling blossoms, and every tulip, daffodil, and rose doing their best to stun...... What a time to live in NorCal!?!
If you love flowers blooming + a good place for a family stroll with great views, or somewhere to go for a nice picnic, this post is for YOU!
The two gardens are on two sides of Sierra Road, so you can actually visit both on the same day. Both are open 10-4/5 on weekends
#1: Nola's Iris Garden. Nestled in the East San Jose Hills, it is a 5 acre garden open in April and May each year (so go NOW!!!) As you may have guessed, the garden is exploding with irises in bloom. There are literally HUNDREDS of varietals of irises, with colors and combinations that will delight and surprise you and little ones.
3 separate lots of irises for your viewing pleasure, free of charge. There is a donation charge should you feel inspired (we donated).
We actually got to meet Nola (this is her garden) and she's as awesome as her garden. She was super patient with us and answered all the kid's (and husband's) questions. They don't sell the irises on site, but you can buy them online.
The paths are not paved, so be sure to wear good walking shoes. Bathroom is a porta potty. There ARE picnic tables
We took about A MILLION pictures. Below is a sample.
#2. Chateau CharMarron Peony Gardens. It's actually on the same road as Nola's, so you can visit both on the same day.
While not quite as expansive as Nola's, the sheer visual of peonies in bloom will take your breath away. There are SO MANY peonies in different colors, shapes, varieties. I have never seen the dual-colored ones ever. The beauty of the garden is only paralleled by the views from the garden - at the entrance there's an amazing view of the Calavaras Reservoir
Different from Nola's, you CAN buy peonies on site, in pots. The owners will give you detailed instructions on planting, watering, and sunlight.
No bathrooms (maybe a porta potty?) so plan accordingly. Also no shade so definitely bring/wear a hat. The paths are dirt.
View of the Calaveras Reservoir from CharMarron Peony Nursery
An alpaca! At CharMarron
So. Many. Peonies.
I like the dual-colored ones
A sample of the peonies we saw
At Nola's Iris Garden
This one was the size of my hand!
A tiny fraction of the different varieties of Irises we saw
And then some