Monday, May 14, 2018

California Dreaming 1--Nola's

By Bryce Williamson

Silicon Valley is, of course, a major metropolitan area and the days of good specialty nurseries have passed in fond memory with land in the valley too valuable for that use. I can and may get nostalgic at a later time about the time when the valley supported a fuchsia nursery, a couple for roses, one for camellias, another for azaleas, and regular good full line garden centers, in addition to supporting at least one or two iris gardens for the walk-in customers, or what we call the “carriage trade.”

George Sutton's 'Coral Point'

However, not all is lost. Turning from the freeway onto Berryessa Road in East San Jose and then left on Piedmont and finally right onto Sierra, a short jaunt up the winding and twisting road leads to the area’s last major iris nursery: Nola’s, part of the Prevost Ranch and Gardens. Along with acres of irises, the Prevost Ranch has 40 head of cattle and horses. It is, as in the case of any trip into the Mount Diablo Mountains, a quick time travel back to a different time and place away from the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley.

 Nola with Phil Williams from Eagleville, Tennessee

Nola’s Iris Garden is a throwback to different era of iris growing in another way—spread out of several acres and subdivided into rooms, the plants are grown in clumps and drifts. Unlike many current purveyors of irises who dig and replant everything every year, Nola allow her irises to develop into clumps and that can make for a spectacular spring display as the flowering plants run up and down the hillsides.

If Nola’s is unique in the valley in the ways mentioned, it is also unique in another: it is one of the last iris gardens in the US that carries thousands of varieties. If you are looking for something unique or hard to find, this is the place to start.

I was pleased with the large clump of 'Jesse's Song'

Nola’s takes iris orders online. You can find their online catalogue at

In the Dykes Winner bed, 'Star Woman' was coming into good bloom.

Prevost Ranch and Gardens - Bearded Irises
4195 Sierra Road San Jose, CA 95132
Phone: 408-258-2611

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