JARS v51n1 - Do You Know the Way to San Jose?

Do You Know the Way to San Jose?
Diane Weissman
Mountain View, California

After the leaves have turned and fallen and those brisk autumn breezes turned distinctly cold, there's one part of the country where pleasant summer temperatures linger on - Silicon Valley in Northern California, site of the ARS Western Regional Conference, Oct. 10-12, 1997. Average October temperatures lie in the '70s, clear blue skies are the norm as coastal fog stays offshore. Santa Cruz and Monterey welcome many tourists, as both locals and knowledgeable visitors flock to enjoy Indian summer at the beach. Forty minutes inland and "over the hill" lies the city of San Jose, once a southern relation to the Golden State's most famous city, San Francisco, but lately a major destination in its own right.
San Jose describes itself as having a "small town heart and big city soul." "Small town heart" refers to the coziness of San Jose's inner city - many of the major hotels and resources are within walking distance of each other, and the city's international airport is only a short cab ride away. "Big city soul" means that San Jose has the cultural amenities of a big city - ballet, theater, top-notch art and technology museums, an international airport, the San Jose Sharks hockey team and, of course, wonderful gardens.
A wide variety of horticultural resources are available to visitors to the Conference. An around the year growing season and a variety of micro-climates means that a visitor can choose from the Hakone Japanese Garden in Saratoga, San Jose's famous rose garden (which should still be in bloom in mid-October), and Henry Cowell and Big Basin State Parks where redwoods abound. Oberfelt Gardens offers an arboreal trail, fragrance garden and also a 5-acre Chinese cultural garden. The Winchester Mystery House is famous for its 160 rooms, blind closets, and secret passageways, but its garden is also quite unique. Four hundred species of plants and 85 species of birds make their home at the arboretum at Villa Montalvo Center for the Arts in Los Gatos. Once the summer home of U.S. Senator James D. Phelan, Villa Montalvo now sponsors art exhibits as well as theater events and concerts.

Arboretum of Villa Montalvo,
Los Gatos.
Arboretum of Villa Montalvo, Los Gatos.

A short drive away to the north lies Santa Clara's excellent campus, the Rodin Garden at Stanford University, Filoli Gardens in Woodside, and the Gamble Garden in Palo Alto (founded by a member of the Proctor and Gamble family). To the west lies the University of California, Santa Cruz, Botanical Garden, and Maurice and Fran Sumner's wonderful rhododendron garden (regrettably not in bloom). South of San Jose in San Martin lies the Saratoga Horticultural Research Garden where drought tolerant native California plants are studied and introduced to the retail trade.

"Dragees" may enjoy the San Jose Museum of Art, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, the Technology Museum of Innovation, or just sitting by the pool and catching a few rays. The Children's Discovery Museum is a must for children of all ages. Wine lovers may visit the Mirassou Vineyards which offers tours and tastings. San Francisco is only one hour north and Santa Cruz's boardwalk, Carmel and the famous 17-Mile Drive, as well as the recently expanded Monterey Bay Aquarium are a short drive to the south. History buffs will enjoy visiting the De Saisset Museum in Santa Clara where an early California history collection focuses on Mission Santa Clara. The Mission and Historic State Park at San Juan Bautista also contain many relics of that important part of California's history. Steam train enthusiasts shouldn't miss the Roaring Camp and Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad at Felton which winds its way through the Santa Cruz redwoods climbing a steep and twisting hill.

San Jose is truly the center of a wonderful experience for all who visit the 1997 Western Regional Conference. De Anza Chapter (based in Los Altos) and Monterey Bay Chapter are working together to organize the Conference which will beheld at the Hyatt San Jose Hotel, offering convenient airport transportation. Local garden tours will be available for those who choose not to drive.