Scent Filled Weekend

By Kate Riley May 16, 2010

It would be fair to describe me as a lavenderaholic, if there is such a label.  I can never get enough of this botanical that possesses most therapeutic scent in the universe. 

I have a dozen lavender plants scattered around my garden, but I still like to tour the commercial acres of lavender this time of year.  Last year I visited the Lavender Bee Farmthis weekend we decided to pop into Matanzas Creek Winery, famous for their gardens, lavender farm, and acclaimed chardonnay.  

lavender garden sign

I convinced the kids it was worth the half hour drive because they could go hunting for bunny rabbits, ala Elmer Fudd.  We didn’t spot any, but at least the idea kept them busy while Mr. CG and I strolled the grounds. 

Their Spanish and English lavender is already in bloom !   Mmmm, can you smell it ?   spanish and english lavender


The French varieties (Grosso and Provence ) are just beginning to bud.

lavender field in may


In a mere three weeks, the fields will look just like this:

matanzas creek

bumble bee on lavender


What I love about Matanzas Creek Winery is that you can stroll the lavender fields and gardens without any appointment, unlike some of the larger lavender farms that are only open once a year on harvest weekend (mid June). 

The fields at Matanzas Creek are terraced with beautiful rock walls.

roses and rock wall

There are mature oak and olive trees scattered throughout. 

olive tree 

You’re welcome to park underneath the wisteria . . .

park under wisteria

wisteria up close


Matanzas Creek has some gorgeous water features too. 


lily pads 2


It’s all very Giverny-esque.

lacy hydrangea



You can sit out on the massive wrap around deck under the oaks. 

bench and oak tree


Plenty of splurge worthy homemade lavender products in the gift shop. 

I’ll take fifty please.

bath salts

mini cans of lavender


Or you can just spend your afternoon playing bocce ball under the tangerine umbrellas amid the surrounding gardens.  *** Sigh ***   Might have to dream of book a future couples afternoon right here. 

bocce court

Matanzas Creek was featured in the New York Times travel section last summer – you can read the entire article here.  

It was ‘Passport to Sonoma’ weekend, so we stayed out of the tourist filled tasting rooms and just took in the valley view. 

 kenwood sign



We took a drive through Kenwood on our way to the Sonoma Creek Falls, which is the only waterfall in the county.   Just five minutes from the hot and dry Sonoma Valley floor are some marvelous hiking trails through redwoods. 

The 1/4 mile walk to the falls is easy enough for little tykes.  



I absolutely love the damp earthy needle scented smell of a forest floor.  Could someone figure out how to bottle this pretty please ?

walk over bridge


Nothing’s nicer than the lull of the water as it trips over stones and rocks along a creek bed – it’s such great exercise for little feet too.   To me, only ocean waves can compete with the sound of a babbling creek. 

bud on rocks 

waterfalls sign

There’s something about a nature hike to the falls that brings out the Tarzan . . .

mr on waterfall

. . . and Jane in all of us.  

jane on rock


Now I know why Viva Terra is so brilliant selling their river stone bath mats.

viva terra river stones duo


After a long day filled with sensory delights, I returned home to see our own French lavender budding in the garden.  

grosso budding

lavender up close

Mmmmm, such an intoxicating scent !!

I’m looking forward to my own harvest next month – at least three pounds of deliciously scented organic lavender buds. 

Hey, what a great idea for a giveaway, right?  

Coming up next, a fireplace revamp you’ll love . . . can’t wait to show you. 



  1. I so enjoy your blog. This week I am doing link love to the blogs I love so much. I linked your page to mine and i hope you will check my blog out. I just put in a lavender garden in my back yard! I hope I have as nice of one as the pictures you took.

  2. Looks like it was a fabulous day for you & your family! I’m adding those 2 places to my “must see” list of beautiful places.

    Lavender has to be one of my most favorite flowers! I love making lavender & rose petals organza sachets to hang in my closets and between sheets. I just made some Lavender linen spray.

    At last I have the perfect spot to grow lavender in my yard, sunny & hot with sandy soil, right outside my laundry room windows. Now to convince “someone” to let me dig up the poor excuse of a lawn that’s growing in that spot, lol.

  3. Ahhhh….I am relaxed just looking at the photos. Lavender is one of my favorites also. It’s the fragrance. I’m glad they’ve bottled that! ;) The walk in the woods looks great too. Lisa~

  4. i tried to tour the lavender fields on maui when i was there a few weeks ago, but i could not find it. we drove up and down the road it is off of, and i didn’t see any signs or arrows. the gps couldn’t find it when i searched the road, or the word lavender under attractions. so dissappointing. thank you for posting this, i can at least imagine what it would have looked like!

  5. You post the most gorgeous glimpses of your part of the country, Kate. I’ve planted a bit of lavender in my own little garden. I hope it grows! :)

  6. Oh, that’s beautiful! I want to plant lavender in my own yard but haven’t researched what variety would be best. I’m so bad about commenting because I read in Google reader, but your blog is my absolute favorite decorating blog. Your posts inspire me! Thank you for your hard work in blogging!!

  7. Such a beautiful place and with the great pics and descriptions you posted I could *almost* smell it.

  8. Oh, gosh, a giveaway of your very own homegrown lavendar? Scentsational!

    What a lovely weekend. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  9. I think my girls would be in heaven there! What a wonderful spot for families (or couples) to spend a day. I can’t smell (ever), but I can certainly enjoy the site of the lavender. :)

  10. Kate your photos are just gorgeous. Looks like a fun weekend was had by all. You’re so lucky to have all of that beauty {and wine!} right there.

  11. It all sounds so heavenly. Those lavender gardens are now on my “must see” list for the next time I visit your neck of the woods!

  12. So gorgeous! I love the smell of lavender. I’d love to time a visit out to my in-laws to see it in bloom. Maybe next year – by then I’ll be done with pregnancy and can have some of that chardonnay!

  13. ok, it’s official, I miss CA, my home state. Although I have managed to cultivate some lavender from seed out here in VA and it made it through 2 winter blizzards, but oh to have a lavender farm. that’s on my bucket list.

  14. Mmmm. I have Spanish lavender in a pot by my front door, and this year it’s finally budding! (I bought it last year.) A friend and I did a wine tour in the Texas Hill Country (north of San Antonio) a few summers ago, and one of the wineries had lavender fields–smelled sooo good. I even tried some wine flavored with lavender. ;-)

  15. I think that is the winery Jamie Durie visited for inspiration for one of his HGTV garden redos. I’ll have to put that on my list – beautiful!

  16. Thanks Kate. My sister-in-law is visiting us from Scotland this summer and a visit to Matanzas and the waterfalls will be on our list of day trips. Thanks for sharing the beautiful settings.

  17. I am from Sonoma County and this post made me truly homesick.

    As for your comment: “I absolutely love the damp earthy needle scented smell of a forest floor. Could someone figure out how to bottle this pretty please?”

    Check out Royal Apothic’s line of home fragrances:

    The packaging is gorgeous. I have the Terra Firma room spray and absolutely love it. It smells like fresh grass and green tea. I met one of the reps at a store event and supposedly they bottled the scent of fog…so why not the forest floor?

  18. What a beautiful place to visit! Looks like you had a wonderful time.
    I never appreciated the beauty or scent of lavender until I saw the fields in Provence, France.
    Now I grow it in my own yard (and it’s deer resistant!!!)

  19. What a gorgeous post. Such a beautiful place!!! Thanks so much for sharing with us. Those lavender fields are so pretty. Love & blessings from NC!

  20. I have lavender planted around the tree in my front yard. The plants have spread nicely and I need to transplant them into a bigger garden bed. If they eventually grow to even half the size of the lavender plants on that farm I will be one happy lady.

  21. Ooooh lavender! Makes me sleep better. I dream of going to see the redwoods someday. Just amazing. And you reminded me, I have some Kenwood in the fridge. Better finish that off with dinner!

  22. Oh my goodness! I found you through Pink & Polka Dot and I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to find you were a SoCo girl, like me! It seems like all my favorite cheap & chic bloggers are all in the south, which is great but, I’m really looking forward to reading from a North Cali girl’s perspective! Loving what I’ve read so far, can’t wait to read more!

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