Sunset Celebration Weekend

sunset plant logo

Sunset planter logo (wooden letters filled with succulents)

We had a terrific time Saturday at Sunset Celebration Weekend.  Located on the grounds of Sunset Gardens in Menlo Park, the festival featured wine and food, travel, home design and the incredible garden’s they’re known for.

One of my first, and still beloved, gardening books is a Sunset Publishing classic:  The Sunset Western Garden Book. I used to pour over that book for hours.  The original came out in 1954. I bought my first copy in the mid-eighties, and later received an updated version as a gift. I still refer to it as the standard for gardening in this corner of the world.

At the festival, we sampled Torani soda and iced coffee, avocado and key lime cupcakes and MorningStar Farms vegetarian samplers, all free. Food truck offerings included several vegetarian options as well. Yeah me!

sunset gardens free samples

Top: Mike grew up drinking Torani Italian sodas Top Center: Avocado cupcakes with key lime butter-cream frosting Bottom: MorningStar crew serving tasty vegetarian morsels

The crowded test gardens made it challenging to get good shots, so I’ve promised myself a trip back.  Everything looked healthy and well-maintained. Here are a few highlights:

Outdoor Dining Room designed by McKenna Landscaping

Outdoor Dining Room designed by McKenna Landscape

Reuse of old materials highlighted this design. Stacked, reclaimed wood covers the entrance.   Reclaimed wood appears throughout the dining area in the planter boxes, the benches and the table. Sycamore trees form a natural ‘wall’ on two sides of the garden. The rest of the plantings are drought tolerant succulents.

A clever berry garden grew next to the dining area, the perfect way to eat summer dessert al fresco. A pair of curved trellises covered in berries, with strawberries at their feet in a semi-circle bed. Blueberry shrubs flanked either side.

sunset vegetable garden

Mike in front of the vegetable garden

The tidiest vegetable garden you’ve ever seen bordered the berries, then made way for compost bins, a mason bee house and finally a chicken coop.

bee house

Bee house


Happy, productive bees

Flowering gardens and herbs made up the rest of the garden, with lovely benches and seating areas throughout.

herb and perennial garden

Herb and perennial garden

I could have lingered there all day.  In addition to the gardens, the presentations and the demos, we saw two tiny houses, part of the minimalist movement afoot.  We rested our tired  feet for a bit while learning the best way to mix the ingredients for a cake.  Hmmmm…isn’t that what bakeries are for?

I’m already looking forward to attending again next year.

Do you have an annual favorite you like to attend?



13 thoughts on “Sunset Celebration Weekend

  1. You must have been in your glory. You look so cute in your little visor and what a trendy carry-all bag you have, LOL. I’m glad it’s hanging in there. I’ve always like the font they use for ‘Sunset’. It’s very ‘Mad Men…50’s’ Cool how they’ve shaped wood. I wonder how they did it?
    Yummy Morning Star! Why oh why don’t they sell in Canada? I’m outraged, LOL…well seriously sad. That little Bee Cottage is very charming. Cute roof line. What are the round things inside the house, paper? or Cardboard? or Metal? Those little busy bees are really loving up those Allium (? I think). We ate outside tonight and I had to do battle with a couple of wasps. They must have a nest near by. When you bring out food, they become very aggressive.

    I’m sure I’ve probably had a few of their periodicals too. Did you have a favourite part? I’m really wanting to fill my pots, but I should wait till next week. xoK


    • I was indeed! I can’t wait to go back and see the test garden in a quieter state. The exhibits were only there for the weekend, but the test garden is there year round. We’ll have to go together on a future visit.

      You’re so right on the Sunset font…very “Mad Men fifties”.

      I do wish you could get the MorningStar products. They’ve really expanded the line over the last few years. The samples were amazing. I need to go look up the recipes.

      I think the tubes in the bee house are hollow bamboo reeds. We have a simply bee house shaped in a cylinder and those tubes are made of cardboard. The mason bees lay eggs, then cover them, then more, and so on, till they fill the tubes. I should write more about ours.

      I thought that as Allium, but didn’t get around to looking it up. Mine didn’t come back this year, after two years of looking good. We had nasty aphids last year, so I’m wondering if that could have anything to do with it.

      Sorry to hear about the aggressive wasps. I do remember that when we would eat outdoors. We don’t have any wasp nests this year (or at least not yet). Bummer for you. Don’t leave them your forwarding address, okay? Just sneak off quietly and mum’s the word.



      • LOL, Righty-o…sneak away quietly. HA, that made me laugh. “Just stepping out, nothing to worry about” 😀

        It would be a totally awesome to pop in there together on a future trip. Can you by plants there too? I was just reading up on Peony’s, ants, aphids and ladybugs. There’s a lot going on in a garden. Do you hear a teeny, tiny dual roar somethings? Yep, that’s it!

        No Allium this year? Darn hey? They’re so fanciful. I never had any luck growing them at all. I’ve seen artificial ones at Michaels, maybe I should cheat, 😀


  2. That looks like a lovely day out for you and your equally lovely hubby! I don’t do much along those lines any more – but used to enjoy it very much when I did! Love the bee house and all that recycled furniture too. I’m sure you came home with loads of inspiration 🙂


    • I know! The last time we went to the Sunset Celebration we had our two year old in tow. Now we have two boys (men really) turning 14 and 17 this month. Yowsa!

      They prefer staying home and hanging out. We had a great adult afternoon. Everyone wins!


  3. That looked like pure fun. Haven’t found anything like that here but maybe I’m just not looking in the right places. You were getting a good bit of sun on those arms. Bet it felt good. Love the sunset books and have many (in a box in the garage) 😦 I love the succulent boxes on the wall.


    • Sunset produces amazing books, don’t they? In addition to my Western Garden, I have one on bulbs, one on gardening in small spaces, and an Italian cookbook.

      I faithfully wore my sunblock but it was a warm day, and we were there for quite awhile. I like wearing full length dresses so it covers my legs, back and chest. With the hate and my hair, only my arms and face had to fend off that sun.


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