Field Trip:Digging Dog

stair opening

Arriving at Digging Dog is not a particularly easy feat, but it is spectacularly beautiful. One must first wend ones way through the Anderson Valley, home to many old wonderful wineries, followed by a slow snaking through an ancient sacred redwood forest, eventually coming along an old ever-widening river that leads one to a breathtaking emerging at ocean’s end. And now one must retrace back through a pygmy forest, arriving at a dirt road, back into the forest that is home to Digging Dog Nursery, one of America’s famed Destination Nurseries. My first visit was over a dozen years ago, spurred by one of my dearest friends, Marsha Mello, illustrator extraordinaire, and designer of Digging Dog’s logo and beautiful and unique catalogues.

So it was with great delight that I received a nursery gift certificate from Marsha, creating a wonderful excuse to drive out to a recent open house at Digging Dog to select from their vast and exquisite selections. More importantly, I knew I was in for an unparalleled visual treat, and I, and my friend, Eta, whom I invited along, were not disappointed.

Anticipation heightened simply arriving at the gate where Marsha’s whimsical imagery greeted me, making me smile.

Digging Dog gate

Adding to our delight was a small (ironic) sign on the adjacent gate saying, “No dogs, please.”

Stepping inside the world that is Digging Dog we were immediately made to feel welcome by the lovely setting awaiting visitors, which included plates of homemade cookies, and yes, I helped myself! Delicious!

Visitors were given clipboards and carts, and were invited to browse among the vast array of unusual plants spread out on tarps, and under canopies. I found myself caught between the desire to select plants I would be bringing home to add to my own garden and an even greater desire to simply soak up the beauty that is Digging Dog. I managed to do both. Entering the grounds I was greeted by this inviting display.


Where to start? Where to start? Honestly? I could not in that moment even think of selecting and acquiring plants. I’d been there before and I had a sense of what awaited me, just up those stairs at the top of the page, through that entry, which is a round opening in a very tall beech hedge. And I’m going to take you with me where you will undoubtedly agree. Ready? Breathe…

DD lawn

Yes, it’s a lush as it appears. Once transported into that magic that is the creation of landscape designer Gary Ratway, there is scarce chance of turning back. One wants to linger, to enjoy, to soak up, to merge with the incredible beauty he has committed to creating. A true heaven on Earth.

Enjoy this bird’s eye view of the enchanting top of the pink bench awaiting you at that end:

pink chair back

This green stretch of pristine lawn stretches a good city block. Lining the sides one is treated to an endless array of gorgeous well-cared for perennials and bushes, lovingly and artfully juxtaposed, each section more breathtaking than the last. I will leave the naming to you, my darlings. I was there just for the experience itself.




Opposite end holds a second lovely ceramic chair, enfolded magically with darker wings.

dark chair

Just as I thought my senses were saturated with the beauty, I stepped down out of this secluded spot, and was overwhelmed with the full realization that the entire 10-foot high beech hedge is flanked on the outside thusly:


As a gardener one cannot help but begin to think of the man hours it must take to create and maintain such splendor!

As the scope of this creation begins to fully envelope one, all sorts of imaginings are stirred in the soul, I do declare. How many of us have such a vision? What are the possibilities to co-create with plants, should we opt for such a luxury?

One thing is certain. Digging Dog undoubtedly stands tall next to many famed European gardens, and it is easy to understand why it was featured in Martha Stewart Living!


Pulling myself at last to my second task, I select the following lovelies to grace my garden. Lucky me. The pink and purple penstemons and red and yellow yarrows are familiar. The rest are a beauteous blur. Who cares?


As I am moving towards the exit I hear a worker calling out, and smile as I realize why other dogs were discouraged this day. It was Neptune, one of several Digging Dog resident canines, sneaking a peek at the day’s visitors. Hello, Neptune, you good boy, you!


Just then my lovely friend Eta appears with a special treasure to take to her own garden in Marin. It is a pink lupine, yes.


We are graciously greeted by horticulturist Deborah Whigham, co-founder and co-owner of Digging Dog Nursery, of which she can be extremely proud.

I do hope you find yourselves at her door some soft and gentle day.

Love and gardening blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

34 Responses to “Field Trip:Digging Dog”

  1. oh, what a beautiful place is this – and you captured them so great.
    real delight for eyes ๐Ÿ™‚ thank you Kathryn..

  2. Good morning, Ewa! Thank you! Kathryn xox

  3. Zoe–I’d love to see those photos! I will try to google. Thanks! Kathryn xox

  4. What a beautiful way to start a day, especially as those of us in other parts of the country are suffering through terrible weather for our gardens. Very soothing on the soul. Thanks.

  5. Breathtaking!!! We are so fortunate to be taken on such Beautiful trips
    with you, mom! Gorgeous post!!! WOW! And, I could hug Eta through
    the screen! ๐Ÿ˜€ lol Awww! So looking forward to that journey with you
    one day! Thanks for sharing it so wonderfully with us!
    Love you,

  6. Hi, Anita! How lovely to find you at my blog this morning. I’m glad you enjoyed the journey. Hugs, Kathryn xoxo

  7. Hello, Antonia! Yes, you would especially appreciate photos of this area. Thanks for the visit. Big big hug! Love, Mommie D.

  8. Thanks, Kathryn for a great tour of Digging Dog! It makes me want to go back there sometime soon. And thanks too for mentioning me so kindly. Hope you enjoy your new plants! XOXO, M.

  9. Hi, Marsha! Yes, it’s a wonderful destination. You are so welcome and I’m glad you enjoyed the post!
    Love, Kathryn

  10. AMAZING…thank you so much for taking us along with you with these lovely pictures. I know you made my day!

  11. Welcome, Brenda! Thank you for your visit. I’m glad you enjoyed the journey! Kathryn xox

  12. Digging Dog is a special place not only full of wonderful plants but inspiration. What a treat. Thanks.

  13. I’ve run across Digging Dog online several times lately as I’ve searched for plant info, so it’s especially nice to have a tour of their display gardens. It looks amazing. I hope to see it for myself one day.

    And look at you all—wearing jackets and shawls in late July. That’s when I’ll be going! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Hi, Pam–I thought of you, particularly when Eta bought the pink lupine! (Could not help but smile.) ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks for stopping by! And, btw, it is always pretty chilly out there. Kathryn xox

  15. Oh, this place looks wonderful. If I lived within driving distance, I would have to forbid myself from ever bringing my credit card with me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  16. Hi, Lori, I’m sure! For those of you who actually know the names of all these plants, and what is available locally, this place is a treasure house. Note they are largely mail order. Doors open normally by appt. only and the occasional–and rare–open house. Kathryn xooo

  17. Just beautiful, my dear. Your photos and your words tell the story of your visit. So glad you got to go. It is on my bucket list.~~Dee

  18. Welcome, as always, Dee. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m glad you got to visit with me here. Thanks for coming along. ๐Ÿ™‚ Kathryn xox

  19. Kathryn,
    Simply stunning. What a marvelous way to spend a day… even the description of ‘getting there’ would be a bonus to visiting a place like Digging Dog. I loved every part of it. The best part for this heat-weary Florida gardener right now would be getting to be cool AND browsing the beautiful grounds. Thanks for the treat of the tour.
    Meems @Hoe&Shovel

  20. Hi, Meems. Thanks for your visit. Yes, it was refreshing to be there, for sure! I think fall will be upon us before we know it. I am rather looking forward, aren’t you? Sounds like it! Kathryn xox

  21. A Garden of Eden for sure, dear Kathryn … the descriptive tour was delightful but … most impressed with your photography! Your new camera seems to be your best friend! ((BIG HUGS))

  22. Joey! Missed you! Thank you so much for your nice compliment! Yes, I am thoroughly (finally) enjoying the new camera! It’s a blessing. Hope you are enjoying summer! Warmly, Kathryn xoxo

  23. I have heard of this nursery before but I did not know they had such lush gardens. You are fortunate to see it in person. What a wonderful post!

  24. Thanks, Phillip! Yes, lush is the apt word. It’s soaking up the coast moisture and Gary and Deborah’s devotion. Do go! They have a couple of open houses a year! Kathryn xoo

  25. What a wondeful visit! I had to look at this a couple of times. I had no idea they had such wonderful gardens. iIlove your photography. I love nurserys where you can compare how a plant will look when mature.
    So much fun. I enjoyed this.

  26. LOL! Hi, Philip! Good to see you again! You truly must go. You are really moved by what they have created. I honestly was so caught up in the experience of what Gary and company have created that I had no chance to analyze or project the implications. But now that you mention it, yes! I find so often I’ve planted something and then look at it later and say, “I didn’t know you’d need THAT much room!” and then I’m perennially “cutting it back” so people can walk through, etc… ๐Ÿ˜‰ Kathryn

  27. Hey–my gardens look just like those at Digging Dog..well….maybe not but I’m a hopeful. Or who can maintain such the likes have never been seen? I’m amazed. Thank you for taking us along and did I drool much. You need to send me those plants I put on your wagon too. Thanks for paying for them;) Kathryn, it’s a real treat that you got a blog! What a blessing to the rest of us. Hey–here is something really funny…at the beginning of this post you were describing all the ins and outs–ups and downs it took to get to Digging Dog and ….this song came in my head —–I don’t Know Why She Swallowed a Fly, Perhaps She’ll Die. It’s a catchy little tune that winds you in and out of a gazillion things that got swallowed. Kinda like arriving at Digging Dog. Hugs!!

  28. You are so funny, Anna! You’ve got me laughing here first thing in the morning. Thanks for the visit and I’m glad you are inspired! Kathryn xox

  29. How beautiful! The bench looks like something out of the thirties? How blessed you are to have such a heavenly spot to visit. Thanks for taking us along.

  30. Hi, CurtissAnn, you lovely soul, you. Yes, they are everywhere, these blessed places that we both write about, aren’t they? We look through those eyes, yes we do. Hugs, Kathryn

  31. Dear Kathryn,
    Every time I see a window box full of flowers in the urban parts of San Francisco I think of you.
    You are so full of positive energy, that it is just brimming over, and touches people and places wherever you go.
    It is just what you do.
    Lucky us to go with you and have fun!
    You have to gift of a true storyteller:
    You make a trip to the market seem like a trip around the world, and a trip around the world like a trip to the market.

    I have been reading “Three cups of Tea” and throughout I was reminded of you and your enormous spirit.
    I will never forget that you were one of the first persons who ever posted on my blog when I first started. You were so great.
    life is full of discoveries just around the corner. How much fun!
    Warm Regards,

  32. Hola Kathryn

    Paso a visitarte y contarte que publicaron mi premio Arte y Pico en un magazine online y yo te he mencionado a la autora.
    Ella amablemente ha puesto tu nombre tambien alli. Puedes visitarlo en:

    Yo estoy muy emocinada!


  33. Philip, I was moved to tears by this comment. Thank you. Kathryn xoxo

  34. Hola, Ana! Gracias por avisarme! Y que bien para ti! Abrazos! Catarina xoxo

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