Teens from Sonoma Valley Teen Services took time on a balmy Saturday last month to discover Quarryhill Botanical Garden. Corey Barnes, education coordinator and nursery manager, led the hike through the magical space. Barnes, who has worked at the garden for several years, led the two-hour hike during which the teens learned about geography as the plants originate from several Asian countries, primarily China and Japan. The teens also learned about botany through the senses, the sight and smell of flowers in bloom and tastes of edible fruit. Asian culture was explored through the discussion of herbs used in cooking and healing medicines. Vocabulary grew with learning the plant names in Latin – Acer for maple and Quercus for oak and understanding about what a quarry is. Awareness of plant and animal interdependency was seen through pollination by bees and seed propagation by animals that eat fruit and disperse seeds. The teens saw endangered plant species as well as wild pear and apples trees.
All agreed that once they entered Quarryhill Botanical Gardens, a sense of peace, beauty, tranquility and awe inspired the hikers. Imaginations awakened as one artist in the group, Brianna Sieren, sketched flowers and plants that she had never seen before.
Taylor Colvy, SVTS volunteer, observed, “Quarryhill Garden is not a place to rush. When 16-year old Yara asked why plants have thorns, Corey left ample time between question and response for the teens to exchange ideas about potential reasons for their existence. Answers were not given but extracted, like honeybees to nectar. The seemingly boundless garden invites students to dream, ponder and theorize. Thorns assist plants to repel predators. Yara got her answer, but there were many important answers in between.”
The teens learned about Jane Davenport Jansen, who purchased the property. They heard about her vision to protect endangered Asian plant species through seed collection and her generosity to establish the garden for the purposes of research, education and enjoyment. The teens hiked to the top of the garden and saw the Tibetan prayer flags which spread good will and compassion when they flutter in the wind. The teens were grateful for the experience at Quarryhill Botanical Garden, which encourages young people to learn about nature, science, and plant preservation in a wonderful way.
For information on future hikes led by Sonoma Valley Teen Services, call Rebecca Hermosillo or Cristin Lawrence at 939.1452.