The gardening gurus at Cottage Gardens of Petaluma grow all of the plants that they sell onsite, including the year-round vegetable garden and annuals. That means they can not only vouch for each plant’s health and acclimation to the area’s climate, but they are happy to advise budding gardeners on how to properly care for each plant. They can point shoppers toward bee-friendly perennials, for instance, or help them choose brassica veggies for an autumn harvest. Cottage Gardens of Petaluma also carries dozens of succulents, from the leafy crassula variety to a sturdy aloe plant.
In addition to plants, the nursery stocks a variety of soil fortifiers, such as nutrients and hardhats for earthworms. It also empowers green thumbs to beautify gardens with accessories including sculptures, terra-cotta planters, and baskets. Guests are also welcome to peruse the grounds to simply enjoy the beauty.
Every October, three acres of the McClellands? cow-haunted pastures pop to life with plump pumpkins in orange, white, and green. Along with the briskly changing foliage, this autumnal bounty heralds a transformation at the dairy. The farm begins to host tours every weekend, granting guests a chance to pet the nursery?s stumbling calves and milk a cow by hand. The family also sets up a winding Hay Maze to confound any bull-man hybrids that wander by. Other activities at the pumpkin patch include a sand box full of the seeds that are used to grow cow feed, a haunted hay trail, hay rides, and an on-site food cart crafting organic grilled cheese sandwiches and milkshakes. After the flurry of fall activity, kids can clamber into a bouncy-house as their parents share some gossip and politely refuse a chew of cud with ?the girls,? as Jana McClelland calls her bovine family members.
With 35 years of experience under his belt, Hugh White of Hugh White Training Stables and fellow equestrian Jody Werner impart horse-whispering skills to riders of all levels during fun, expertly taught lessons. After one to three students saddle up, experienced instructors draw on classical training methods to teach basic, intermediate, or advanced skills. Horses paw at yellow sand in huge arenas or leap over jumps in outdoor fields as students trot, cantor, jump, or arrange their mounts in My Little Pony–inspired tableaus.
Virginie Richard, a devout equine enthusiast, opened Mark West Stables more than two decades ago to share her love of horses with students of all ages. She knew she had accomplished her goal when her former student Megan Hernandez came on to work alongside her and instruct new generations of riders.
Together, the two tend to boarded steeds and teach custom lessons in english hunter/jumper-style riding to students of all ages and skill levels, even former riders who want to knock the rust off their old stirrups or horse-shaped motorcycles. Along with lessons, Virginie and Megan offer monthly training programs that supplement tailored instruction with lessons in horse care such as blanketing, medicating, vet appointments, and haircare. During the summer, they also lead fun-filled camps and activities for younger riders.
Icssoma Farm's head equestrian, Susan Jan Hornstein, began teaching horseback riding in 1978. Over the decades she's developed a holistic approach that's adaptable to every level of experience?from outright beginners to experienced competitors to those who ride just to turn manes into fancy braids. Once students feel comfortable around horses, lessons commence in the disciplines of dressage and natural horsemanship. Students develop riding skills and confidence while performing groundwork or riding in the arena, exhibiting natural horsemanship skills in the English riding style.
The clacking of hooves echoes throughout the rolling hills of Alhambra Valley, sounding out the steady rhythm of another day in the quiet country atmosphere at Rancho Saguaro. The full-service boarding and training facility boasts a 38-stall stable, an indoor riding area, scenic trails, and open pastures where steeds can graze. The staff helps both beginning riders and more skilled riders find comfort in the saddle with lessons, whether they're looking to take up a new hobby, learn a new skill, or go on an adventure through the countryside. The staff teaches both Western and English riding disciplines, as well as balance, control, hunt seat equation, jumping, and basic horsemanship. Riders who train at Rancho Saguaro also have the option of competing in shows, where they can test new skills and sportsmanship while flaunting the flame decal they stitched on their saddle.