Stroll through Cornerstone Gardens

Stroll, shop and be amazed in one of California’s most acclaimed whimsy gardens. Chris Hougie, 56, entrepreneur and former toy inventor, started Cornerstone in 2004 after visiting Chaumont, a collection of folly gardens in the Loire Valley of France. His mission is to surprise, amuse and inspire you with new ideas, must-have treasures and exceptional food and wine in one of the Sonoma Valley’s most beautiful settings. Cornerstone Sonoma has enjoyed international attention and has been heralded by the New York Times as a garden attraction unlike any other in North America.

Cornerstone Sonoma has one-of-a-kind shops and galleries, regional wine tasting, a Wine Country Marketplace and Café and incredible gallery-style garden installations. They feature both indoor and outdoor event spaces and are a much sought-after wedding venue.

The garden’s rotating exhibits include an orchard of plastic daisy pinwheels designed by Ken Smith, an above-ground “wishing well” by Rios Clementi Hale Studios and Pamela Burton’s sloping hay-bale bunker adorned with feather grass and a lily pond. Don’t try too hard to figure it all out. Think of it more as a natural outdoor art museum and just enjoy. Explore the unusual, discover the new and survey the breathtaking. Packed with delightful, unexpected surprises set amid world-class architectural gardens, Cornerstone Sonoma is an environment unlike any you’ve experienced before.

Cornerstone Place is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Gardens close at 4:00), and is located at 23570 Hwy 121, in Sonoma. The Sonoma Valley Visitor Center operates an information station on the premises, so Cornerstone is a great place to start your tour of the area. For information call (707) 933-3010. www.cornerstonegardens.com