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Welcome to the Sonoma County Gazette ARCHIVE of PAST EDITIONS. Our NEW WEBSITE is up and running, so GazExtra is serving as your path to archived articles. Thanks for being part of our Sonoma County community...stay in touch...e-mail me - VESTA

Friday, June 3, 2011

Vacation at Home - Sonoma County

It's summer and that means we need to move PLAY up our priority list!

We'll be publishing ways to play right here at home all summer long. From chasing butterflies in Louise Hallberg's garden in Graton - to taking a bike ride up to Bullfrog Pond in Armstrong Woods State Park...our authors and columnists have enough suggestions for you to keep busy right here in our own back yard. Take a look at our amazing calendar - edited by Leigh Douglass - to find classes, hikes, benefits, music & art to experience across the county. We live in what Monte Rio calls Vacation Wonderland! There's no limit to what we can enjoy!

You’re Invited to our Open Gardens Celebration, 
June 26, 2011

By Louise Hallberg, with Wintress Huetter
Sunday, June 26, 2011 is a celebration of 100 years of history. It is also the 14th annual celebration of the non-profit Hallberg Butterfly Gardens. This year’s Open Gardens will feature special displays highlighting the history of the Hallbergs’ 100-year residence at the farmhouse in which Louise was born. She still lives in the house (although it has been remodeled, within strict historic specifications), and it functions well as the nucleus of her charitable/educational foundation and habitat preserve.

First, a bit of history...
The habitat began with Alfred and Della Hallberg, Louise’s parents, when they first moved into the house on Alfred’s family ranch in 1911. At that time, the ranch was several times the size it is now, and farmed with a diversity of crops. There were hops, a hop kiln, hop picking and harvesting, an orchard with cherries, prunes, pears, and berries, and an apple dryer where apples were processed. The apples were peeled, sliced, cut and spread on trays, then dried, (first over wood heat, later by gas heat) and then scraped off into a room and sacked for sale. Apples were originally picked in apple lug boxes, much later into wooden bins, and eventually into plastic bins. They were also used in making Apple Time™ apple juice. In early years, many were picked from ladders - now few are.

Eventually there was no market for cherries so these trees were cut; the same happened for the pears and prunes. Berries were planted between the apple trees, and were eliminated when the apple trees planted in 1948 in the north lot came into production. In 1994, old trees began falling and so a block out front was replaced with Golden Supreme Delicious, Best-Ever, Fuji and Gala. A few remaining failing old trees are being replaced yearly, so the Wagners, Greening, Arkansas Black, and Newton Pippin are gone. Gravensteins, Delicious, Jonathans, and Rome Beauties remain. There was an extensive vegetable garden down in the pasture area and some produce was canned, and later frozen; many fruits were canned. 

Louise’s mother, Della, was a 1914 Graton Community Club charter member. Her father, Alfred, served as Trustee for Oak Grove Elementary School and Analy High School. He worked continuously to get apples to market when mature, and started the idea of posting the Apple Blossom Tour signs, which he kept up for many years. He installed a weather station in 1930 and shared results with the agricultural department, also for many years. Louise has continued the weather reporting to the National Weather Service since 1962.

Established as a not-for-profit in 1997, the Hallberg Butterfly Gardens has conducted tours for children and adults over the last two decades. We teach about the butterfly life cycle, the complex inter-relationships of native plants and animals, and the importance of habitat preservation. With adults, we also emphasize how to attract and protect butterfly species within backyard sanctuaries. More than 25,000 visitors have enjoyed the gardens and hopefully have been inspired by the sanctuary for wildlife and butterflies.

Enjoy the butterfly experience on June 26
The event on June 26th is free to the public, with no reservations required. Kids and grandkids are wholeheartedly encouraged, but no pets, please. There will be a plant sale with many butterfly nectar plants and Dutchman’s Pipevine, the host plant for the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly. Books, tote bags and shirts will also be available for purchase. Activities include butterfly and bird sightings, wildflower displays, an exhibit of beneficial insects by Sonoma State University students, the new Butterfly Creek water feature, children’s crafts, and self-guided walking tours through the historic habitat of the gardens. Family history will be highlighted through photos and stories, and visitors can learn more about the organization’s beginnings and current activities within the community. Dress appropriately for unpaved paths and warm weather - it is usually quite warm. There is a handrail down 18 steps to the meadow but limited wheel chair access on the property. We are located just off of Oak Grove Road in Graton Please park on Oak Grove Road and walk in, or take the free shuttle. For information call 707-823-3420 or visit

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