Road Trip- Northern California

Back around March and April, I realized there were events in northern California on consecutive weekends in June. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could visit my friends near Chico in between, and cut down somewhat on the driving? Getting away from home for 10 days isn’t easy- someone would have to water gardens and potted plants, feed pets, go shopping, take my Mother-in-law places, etc. It took me awhile just getting up the nerve to mention the idea to my husband, the one who would be taking up most of the slack. He said to contact the friends first, since if they were planning to be away, I couldn’t do it anyway. They wrote back enthusiastically inviting me to visit, so the road trip was ON! Here is a summary of the trip with plenty of pictures.

Part 1: California Cornish Cousins Gathering in Grass Valley

I’m a life member of the CaCC, but have so far only been to one gathering- the Fall Pasty Lunch and tour of Filoli last October. I don’t know the other members, except having met and chatted with some in Oct., and my own Cornish ancestors were miners in Pennsylvania, not California, but as I am proudly Cornish (1/4, anyway), I like to celebrate my heritage. There are other reasons I like to go to Grass Valley, as well. I have 4 rose loving friends in the area, and I love the foothills geology. It was going to be a really fun weekend! I left home Friday morning, May 31, taking my usual backroads route through downtown Livermore and onto Vasco Rd to Byron. At the intersection of Byron Highway and Hwy 4 is my favorite fruit and vegetable stand, owned by an Asian-American family. I bought strawberries, cherries and apricots, and continued up to Sacramento. Kobasic’s Candies is just off I-5 south of the city, and I stopped in for a half pound box of dark chocolate truffles with red wine, or port, or Irish Cream, or mint added to the dark chocolate fillings. From there it was straight to Grass Valley, and finding my way to the historic Holbrooke Hotel. I was quite early, so I called Kathryn to see if they were home, and went over there in Nevada City, just a few miles from Grass Valley. Kathryn had invited my to stay with them. She and Doug used to live near me, and Kathryn and I  had a few rose adventures years ago. They moved to New Mexico, but decided to come back to California a couple years ago, and I put her in touch with my other rose friends, and now she finds herself volunteering with them several mornings a week on their garden projects. I unloaded the car, changed into nice dinner clothes, and chatted with them till it was time to go back to the Holbrooke for a pasty dinner. I sat at a table with two sisters and the grandson of one of them, then another retired couple joined us. The hors d’oeuvres were so good and filling that I only had room for half of my pasty, so I saved the other half for a future lunch. After dinner, the Grass Valley Male Voice Choir, led by a member of the CaCC who happens to live there, sang some songs and had a singalong of old songs most of us were familiar with.

Eleanor Kenitzer leading the sing-along

Eleanor Kenitzer leading the sing-along

The next morning started with a business meeting, but I only made it to the second half. Then we arranged who was driving to Malakoff Diggins State Park. One of the women was willing to come with me. We went the long way because the shorter way is partly a gravel road. When we got to the mining town of North Bloomfield, there was a group of costumed home-schooled children having a living history day there. Over the next 15 minutes or so, the rest of our group arrived, and most importantly, Steve, the President with the hot pasties, and Kitty with the saffron buns. I just can’t describe how good Kitty’s saffron buns are!

Pasty and saffron buns

Pasty and saffron buns

After lunch, we all got together for a group photo. We lined up our cameras on a picnic table, and Steve’s wife took pictures for us. (We should have taken the picture before lunch when we were all a couple pounds thinner.)

Cornish Cousins

Cornish Cousins

We got a tour of the buildings in North Bloomfield from a park aide. I’m putting small pictures at the end of the blog for those who want to see them. You can click on them to see them larger. (Any on the Cousins reading this may copy the pictures for your own files, or the newsletter.)

I finally found out what the one rose in town was- I’d seen it in 2006 on a rose rustling trip, and guessed it was odorata understock. I got a park volunteer to take me into the yard, as it was posted to keep out. It was an understock, but IXL, not odorata. We drove to the cemetery, and I took a few photos of graves of Cornish people. Here are a couple, both Penrose:



I wanted to take the gravel road back, but my rider was afraid, so she joined another carpool. (I assured her I had all wheel drive and new tires, and had been on that road before, but she wasn’t comfortable about it.) My next stop was where the hydraulic mining had been. The method was an environmental disaster, not just where it occurred, but downstream on the Yuba River and the Sacramento Valley. Reminds me of the mountaintop removal mining and some of the other methods in use today.


These bare rock walls show how much rock was removed .

These bare rock walls show how much rock was removed .

The gravel road was only for about 5 miles, and paved the rest of the way. Unfortunately, intersections weren’t marked on these rural roads, and I went straight at one where I should have turned, adding several miles and another 15 minutes to the trip.
Since I no longer had a passenger to return to Grass Valley, I just went to Kathryn’s and got cleaned up and changed for dinner, again at the Holbrooke. Not pasties this time, but very filling and tasty.We had a speaker on Cornish hens. Turns out they’re just young chickens. We also had a speaker tell us the life story of Cornish singer Richard Jose, followed by a rendition of his most famous composition, ‘Silver Threads among the Gold’.

On Sunday morning many of us joined the Traditional Service at the Nevada City Methodist Church, where the Male Voice Choir also sang. The Methodist religion was started in Cornwall by the Wesley brothers who wandered around leading hymn singing sessions in the evenings. They also wrote a number of the hymns still in the Methodist Hymnal, and we sang several during the service. With that, the Cornish part of the weekend concluded, and the rose part began.

Part 2: Looking at roses in Nevada City and Grass Valley

Kathryn took me to the North Star House in Grass Valley, where we were met by Carole, who is a long-time volunteer there. Kathy and Joy arrived shortly after. The North Star house was the Julia Morgan designed home of the Superintendent of the North Star Mine, Arthur Foote and his wife, author and illustrator Mary Hallock Foote and their children. The property had been neglected for many years before restoration efforts started. I was there in 2007, and quite a bit of work has been done since then. Here are a couple of pictures.

Front View

Front View

Rear View. The two posts once supported a pergola with a Lady Banks rose.

Rear View. The two posts once supported a pergola with a Lady Banks rose.

You can read much more about the North Star house at this site:  They also have a Facebook page:  Carol gave us a tour of the downstairs part of the house, much improved since I was last there, and then we walked around the grounds to see some of the original plants, including some of local nurseryman and hybridizer Felix Gillet’s pear trees, and some Luther Burbank blackberries.

Kathryn, Kathy, Carole and Joy

Kathryn, Kathy, Carole and Joy

A rare variety of magnolia

A rare variety of magnolia

From the North Star house, we all went to see Joy’s house. She and her husband bought a 30s fixer-upper on a large property, and have been fixing it up for a few years. Someday it will be a real showplace. Kathy had brought sandwiches with her, and I brought some of the fruit I’d bought in Byron. Joy supplied cold drinks and we had lunch on the front patio. There is a spectacular view to the northern Sierras from this patio:

View from Joy's front porch

View from Joy’s front porch


Zooming in on view toward Quincy

Carole left us after lunch, and the rest of us went to Empire Mine, where Joy does gardening work.  She was able to give us a tour of the house.


The rose garden area there needs some help- a good dousing with compost tea, a layer of compost, then a layer of mulch would do it a world of good. Convincing State Parks of that is another matter- funding for State Parks is lacking, and a lot of park work is done by dedicated volunteers. We looked at other roses in the park- some of which are original to the time the mine was active. Others were added, but suitably old varieties. The American Beauty roses in front of the house are replacements for the originals.

Joy wanted to know what this tiny-flowered rambler was.

Joy wanted to know what this tiny-flowered rambler was.

I later learned that it is an original rose at the mine and is called "Ladyfingers"

I later learned that it is an original rose at the mine and is called “Ladyfingers”

Kathy left us to go home after we finished with the house and grounds, while Joy, Kathryn and I had a look at the mine buildings. I hadn’t seen that part of the property on my previous visit.

Looking down the mine shaft

Looking down the mine shaft

Joy and me in the cart that used to take miners down that shaft.

Joy and me in the cart that used to take miners down that shaft.


This amazing model shows the shafts and levels for all the mines in the Grass Valley area.

On Monday morning, Kathryn went to the cemetery on Red Dog Road in Nevada City, where we joined Kathy. Back in about 2008, Kathy and Joy got permission to care for the roses in the Masons section of the cemetery.  That is the only part with irrigation water. There used to be quite a few roses in other parts of the cemetery, some of which were propagated for either the Heritage Rose Garden or Sacramento City Cemetery Historic Rose Garden or both, and some of those are no longer growing at this cemetery. Kathy showed me where an Alba Odorata rose used to be. Mel had propagated that one for the Heritage, but we didn’t need it, so I gave it to Evergreen Cemetery in Santa Cruz. I will have to get cuttings from that plant to propagate for Kathy to put in the Mason’s section. They have added about a hundred heritage roses, plus self-seeding annuals and some perennials to the Mason’s plots and it looks wonderful.


Kathy and Kathryn




Another interesting sight at the cemetery was one rose with lots and lots of rose wasp galls. They make feathery balls on the roses, and are generally harmless, but I hadn’t seen this kind before. I didn’t take any pictures, but I found one online if you’d like to see what they look like:

From there, we went to another cemetery. I wanted to see how the rose in the Paladini plot was doing. It’s a moss rose growing through the small circular hole in the concrete slab, and we once had a plant from it at the Heritage. The last time I was here, the plant wasn’t big enough to take a cutting. This time is was much bigger and looks very healthy, so I collected enough that I hope to be able to replace our plant.

Paladini plot rose

Paladini plot rose

Nearby, Kathy showed us the grave of Felix Gillet, who died in 1908, so the pear trees and many other plants he sold in the area that are still alive are well over 100 years old.


After lunch (thanks, Kathryn) we also went to another cemetery in Grass Valley where Kathy showed us the Foote family plot. It was way back in an isolated corner.

Part 3: Cohasset

Tuesday morning I said goodbye to Kathryn and Doug, and headed up to Cohasset to stay with Sue (see for previous visit to Sue). She recommended Tony’s fruit stand when I asked about stopping to buy fruit. You can’t miss it. On Hwy 70, between Marysville and Oroville, there is a row of pink signs. At Sue’s house there have been some changes. The above ground pool is gone, and to replace it, Sue’s husband built a couple large planter boxes for planting their tomatoes in full sun. But the boxes were still empty. I helped a bit, but not a lot, as they got manure, dirt and compost to put in, shoveling one wheelbarrow full at a time. One box was full and planted by the time I left Friday.

Sue's husband tilling the filled planter box.

Sue’s husband tilling the filled planter box.

Part 4: To Fort Bragg

I wasn’t looking forward to this drive because I expected the weather to be hot, but it wasn’t bad. I first drove west to get to the river, then south on Hwy 45. I’d never heard anything about roses at the cemeteries in Colusa, so I stopped at them. They both have many old monuments, so they are nice cemeteries to look around, but the one on the south side of town had no roses at all, The northern cemetery had a few- Iceberg, Dr. Huey, a canina and an orange mini. But I was intrigued by this:

The plot with Dr. Huey and Iceberg...

The plot with Dr. Huey and Iceberg…


… has this rose seedling growing through a small hole.

The next stop, of course, was Granzella’s. Suitably refreshed with a gelato for lunch and a frappe to go, I headed west on Hwy 20 past Clear Lake. I’ve never been there before, so I took a picture:IMG_0061

I loved driving through Lake and Mendocino Counties. The golden hills dotted with oaks are one of my favorite things about California. Here are a couple shots of the part of the highway between Willits and Fort Bragg, where pines have replaced the oaks..



Part 5: Fort Bragg Seminar and Joyce Demits Garden

I reached Fort Bragg mid afternoon, and went to Glass Beach. I was impressed by the amout of glass on the beach, but it was all small bits. Anything big enough to, say, use in jewelry was too fresh and needed another year in the waves. I’m sure it’s better at other times of the year. Technically, it’s not legal to collect glass from the beach because it’s a state park. I think everyone takes a few bits, however, and no one was patrolling. Here are a few views of the beach and coastline:




Later, I parked in town to look into dinner locations, and had just gotten out of my car when Anita, Barbara and Pat from Sacramento drove past me and pulled over. I was planning on room sharing with Pat, so I followed them to the motel and checked in, then we all went for dinner at the North Coast Brewery. Afterwards, we walked around the town, which was having a First Friday event, with art galleries open, and wine and other goodies. It was fun looking at all the art and jewelry. I also ran into Kathryn and Doug at one of the galleries.

Saturday morning started with Jeri and Clay giving a slide presentation in a room in a local B&B. I was amazed at how many people had come from long distances for this event. The room was packed to the gills. They explained the etiquette of rose rustling, and also the importance of rose rustling. Many roses we’ve seen at old houses, farms and cemeteries are no longer where they once grew. Joyce Demits and her sister Virginia Hopper were rose rustlers decades before most of us got interested in roses. Joyce would like to ensure that her collection gets spread around to places like the Heritage and the Sacramento Cemetery while there is still time. The plan was for all of us to label roses at her house that we recognize, and come back in September to collect cuttings. Most of us found that we didn’t recognize much of what Joyce has. Gallicas, for instance grow well in her climate. They don’t like San Jose (mild winter) or Santa Cruz (mild summer), so I don’t know what many of them look like. I recognized Souvenir de Mme Leonie Viennot and what’s probably General Tartas (Joyce confirmed that there had been a name change for that rose, although she wasn’t sure what the old or newer name were, and I knew the rose now sold as General Tartas used to be sold as Mme de Tartas). But altogether, it was embarrassing how little I recognized there. Others were feeling the same way. Here are  a few garden pictures:




We were anxiously awaiting the arrival of Fred Boutin, as he knew Joyce’s garden fairly well and is good at recognizing roses the rest of us don’t know. We were getting worried about what happened to him, when he finally arrived with his explanation. At the B&B, the manager had shown us a bouquet of roses growing there, some of which came from other places, and she wondered what they were. Fred was still looking at them after the rest of us had given up and headed off to Joyce’s. Fred got directions to a farm where one of the roses had been collected, and headed off there, where he had a long chat with the farmer and collected a number of setigera hybrids and a few other roses before going to Joyce’s. Here’s Fred with some of his prizes:


I printed this one large so you can see the very full pink rose by Fred’s right hand. Isn’t that GORGEOUS!!? So Fred was forgiven, and I followed him around tagging some roses as he named them, but the afternoon was hot, and people drifted off and looked for shady places. The socializing was great, and visiting with Joyce is always wonderful, the tagging was incomplete. Alice plans to do more tagging another day, as she lives fairly nearby.

Later I went over to Jeri and Clay’s motor home in the motor park/campground south of town. The manager nearly threw me out for driving more than 5 mph  on the park road. I later realized my spedometer doesn’t even have a line for 5 mph. Anyway, I had fun chatting and drinking wine with them and visiting with their dogs, and then they took me to see a rose growing on the end of a building in the park, an older hybrid tea with a strong dose of pernetiana in it. When we walked back to the motor home, Alice drove up and joined us for more wine and conversation. We took her to look at the rose, and as we were about to walk back, Fred drove up, so we showed him the rose too. Then we chatted in the motor home till almost 9.

Jeri took this picture of Alice and me looking at the rose.

Jeri took this picture of Alice and me looking at the rose.

Part 6 (and final): Open Garden at Pamela and Michael Temple’s

Getting there is half the fun, and thank goodness for GPS. They live quite a few miles out of Willits, off a dirt road, in an oasis of their creation, full  of roses, ponds and ceramic sculptures. I was there 10 years ago, and there appear to be twice as many roses there now. Around every bend is a new view of roses and ornaments. And there are many other plants as well. Somewhere in the middle is Pamela’s ceramics studio, and above it is a cupola with views everywhere, and a sky chair I never wanted to get out of. One long pathway has ramblers planted on the uphill side and pots of plants waiting to be planted lining the downhill side. So I’ll have to come back in 10 years and see the garden doubled in size again. Many photos of Red Rose Ridge, click on them to see full size:

View to the house from the studio

View to the house from the studio


The house

The house


Under the pergola

Under the pergola


Top of the pergols a from the cupola

Top of the pergols
a from the cupola

Darrell Schram looking at ramblers

Darrell Schramm looking at ramblers

Pat getting a picture of me in the cupola

Pat getting a picture of me in the cupola


The pergola

Below the bridge

Below the bridge

The studio

The studio

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Papa Meilland

Papa Meilland

P1020141 P1020136

I lost my step near the left center of this shot, and landed with my shin on a clod of dirt. Still have a bruise. Glad no one saw

I lost my step near the left center of this shot, and landed with my shin on a clod of dirt. Still have a bruise. Glad no one saw

P1020139 P1020138 P1020137 P1020134 P1020133 P1020132 P1020130 P1020129 P1020126 P1020128 P1020125 P1020131

And finally- the other pictures I promised for the Cornish Cousins:





About Jill Perry

Since 2005, I have been the Curator of the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden, a part of Guadalupe River Parks and Gardens near downtown San Jose. I write about the Heritage Rose Garden, my garden and my travels when I feel inspired and have time. Since I have no regular schedule, if you'd like to know when I write a new article, please subscribe to this blog.
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