Livermore Valley…The “Other” Wine Country!

Living in the center of Sonoma County, right in the middle of wine country, I didn’t know there was another wine country an hour and a half away! Invited to spend the weekend with my niece and her new husband we took off early on a Saturday morning.

After a nice visit, we headed out to explore “the other wine country”! First stop, the beautiful Concannon Vineyards for lunch on the patio-really nice!



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After lunch you can walk around the garden and out to see the beautifully restored Victorian house on the property…

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Next we visited a winery called “3 Steves”. Founded and run by three men who all left the corporate world to open their own winery, and who all share the name Steve…really! Not only was the weather perfect for relaxing on the patio, but we received quite an education on different kinds of wine! There’s something special about visiting with the owners while learning about the making of the wine you’re tasting.

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Admiring a photo on the winery wall, it was fun to find out it was taken by my niece…with her cell phone! It’s beautiful…just shows you it’s the photographer and not the camera that makes a fine photo!


As we left 3 Steves the sun was getting nearly low enough in the sky for good photography so we drove all around through the vineyards stopping to photograph the country side…not missing Alden Nursery, a truly beautiful garden center…

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Evening sun is wonderful for making vineyard images…

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After a great dinner we mapped out our photo trip for sunrise the next morning. The two best times of day for vineyard photography are right at sunrise or sunset so we were off by 6:30 a.m. to find whatever presented itself in front of the lense in this beautiful light. The Livermore valley has much to offer besides vineyards, including old barns, parks and gorgeous neighborhoods, all nestled in the grapes! A few early morning images to wet your appetite for a little weekend trip…enjoy!

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We were fortunate to have a personal guide in my sweet niece…if you’d like to check out “the other wine country” for yourself  find out more at:

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New Blog is UP!

I’ve started a new blog about gardening and I’d love to have you check it out! You can find it at  . Hope you’ll enjoy that too… we’ll be back to posting more “wanderings” shortly!

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New England Fall Colors…A Thanksgiving Reflection…

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. Psalm 95:2

During  a recent 12 day trip through New England to photograph the famous fall colors we were  a struck by the incredible beauty and serenity . Driving through the Berkshire mountains or traveling winding roads through the countryside of Vermont, the trees stand shimmering in the sun or sparkling in the dancing light of raindrops, an unimaginable array of color.

As we set up our  tripods and prepared to shoot a particularly colorful scene with sugar maples reflected in a small pond out in the middle of the New York countryside, others began to pull over to photograph it as well.  A man came over to tell me he drives by this pond every single day and always thinks to himself, ” I should really stop and take a picture of that-it’s so beautiful”….but he never had, until now.

His comment made me think about how often I fail to appreciate beautiful and praise worthy things that surround me and how often I forget to thank the one who provides them…

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. Hebrews 12:28


Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift. 2 Corinthians 9:15

Give thanks in all circumstances…1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good His love endures forever. Psalm 136

…whatever is true  whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Philippians 4:8

…he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul…Psalm 23 :2,3

Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Santa Rosa JC Neighborhood Jewels…

Looking through the pile of papers and books next to my favorite reading chair, I came across an article I had saved from the June 2nd Press Democrat about the “unique garden sights” there are to see by walking through the JC neighborhood in our town. Not wanting to put it off any longer and miss a chance for a fun horticultural outing, I called a garden friend and we set off on foot to see what there was to see along Orchard, Benton and Beaver Streets in Santa Rosa. The weather was lovely, the sunset warmed the sky and my little dog Chloe was up for a walk so off we went. It’s truly amazing what you see when walking, that you would completely miss driving by!

Right away we came upon a front yard that had been seeded with wild flowers. It was a  riot of color and texture…poppies, bachelor buttons, coreopsis and lupine all tumbled together in a cheerful mass of color.

The little pink and blue bachelor buttons brought back memories of my grandmother’s garden. It was full of them – mixed with baby’s breath and zinnias – all planted for us to pick and arrange in tin cans covered with foil to put on relative’s graves on Memorial Day!

On Benton Street we came upon the huge pepper tree mentioned in the article and admired the St. Catherine’s Lace and Vitex…truly stunning!

Walking a little further we passed by a fig tree loaded with fruit and a picturesque old artichoke flower that proves aging can be beautiful!

The article mentioned another garden on Benton St. belonging to Paul and Lynette Scolari, so we walked a little further to find a real gem. Exclaiming over a new treasure every few feet we were in horticultural heaven! The best part was meeting the owners who came out just as we were swooning over their garden. They have worked together to create a garden the Wildlife Federation has deemed a Wildlife Habitat and as you peek into their garden with us you’ll see why!

Part of the garden has a unique low edging, a willow “fence” woven by Paul from their own willow tree!

Asters bloom along the sidewalk in beautiful sky blue…


and Cone flowers in a soft pink…

While this garden is a perfect habitat for wildlife it’s a charming and cozy habitat for people too! We took away so many good ideas!

After a neighborly chat and a generous garden tour with directions to another garden gem we were on our way! Next up a gorgeous hydrangea hedge with a sign that made us smile! I’m glad people obey it so others can enjoy the beauty..

The next garden was also designated a Wildlife Habitat, with a wild and natural look along with some bright and beautiful Cleome….

Since it was getting dark quickly and our car was…well, we weren’t sure anymore where it was parked…we headed back in the general direction…and came upon some a row of bright dahlias…

…and then something that made us both say, simultaneously….I want to do that!!! The owner, probably wondering about these weird women running around taking pictures in the near dark, came out and graciously spoke with us.  His wife made these with a piece of rebar and five pots and he assured us we could do the same!

The owner also told us about the huge magnolia tree in the front yard. Planted by a Civil War Captain it’s said to be the second oldest tree in Santa Rosa! (Since it was getting too dark, even for my 2000 ISO, I  went back before work  the next morning to take a better photo!).

I love the way the tree seems to loom over the house almost protectively. It’s a good thing it’s so beautiful since the owner mentioned that the upkeep is a lot of work!

Finally back to the car, we realized we only covered a few blocks of this wonderful neighborhood so we’ll be going back! Next time you have a free evening take a leisurely stroll through the JC neighborhood, meet some nice people and admire some lovely gardens!

Copyright Donna Jones Photography



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Summertime Garden

The summertime garden is my favorite place to be! Each morning I take my coffee outside to see what’s growing, what’s blooming, which plants are setting fruit. It’s a living, changing place always full of color and fun….not to mention tasty!

This year, thanks to my handy husband, everything is growing in raised beds, surrounded by fresh bark and hooked up to a automatic drip system! If you love gardening as I do (and what’s not to love!), come with me on my morning walk and enjoy!

A potting bench is handy! And flowers are essential…

Veggies are best picked fresh!

And mixing flowers and veggies….well, that’s a garden!

Part of the fun is watching the critters that visit! The garden is a busy place. Our squirrels can be destructive if they don’t get dinner on time but other than that they’re fun! The birds aren’t quite as demanding!

If you have a bit of unused ground….plant a garden! It will give you hours of pleasure and each day there’s something new to look forward to!

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.  Gertrude Jekyell




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Armstrong Redwoods – A Perfect Place for Quiet Reflection

On a recent early morning walk through Armstrong Redwoods , with my husband of 27 years, I couldn’t help but reflect back on all the times I’ve walked through this amazing grove.

Beginning in the 1970′s walking through this quiet and beautiful place has been something I love to do.  I’ve played here, prayed here, brought my children here, conducted tours through the majestic trees for our foreign exchange students…it’s become my go to place in times of sorrow and joy!

If you need to work through a problem or just get away to do some serious thinking, this is the best place in the world to reflect….Or, you can just enjoy the coolness of the air, the babbling of the brook and the wonderful fragrance as you walk along the bark strewn path. Throughout history writers have had much to say about nature…Often inspired by such a place as this….

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.   Robert Lewis Stevenson


All things are artificial, for nature is the art of God.    Thomas Browne


In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia.  Charles Lindbergh

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.     George Washington Carver

 For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.     Martin Luther

Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.   Abraham Lincoln

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Ferrari-Carano Winery – Tulip Gardens

In Sonoma County wineries and beautiful gardens often go hand in hand. Ferrari-Carano on Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg is one of the most beautiful, especially in the spring when daffodils and tulips blanket the grounds. The immaculate gardens are laid out with precision, color coordinated and a lovely sight to behold. On a recent morning walk through the gardens the spring bulbs were just at their peak though there’s something new to see in the gardens any time of year…

Enjoy a short walk through the spring bulb gardens…






Summer will bring roses and other beautiful blooms…it’s worth a trip and a lovely day’s outing!

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Psalm 23 – A Quiet Reflection for Easter

A few years ago I went through three cancer surgeries in four months,  including two 45 minute sessions in a tiny, cramped MRI machine.  Reciting Psalm 23 over and over got me through that claustrophobic experience . This psalm has been a great comfort through countless difficult situations over the past 30 years.I have found it is true that the Word of God is …”living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  Hebrews 4:12

I hope you will enjoy this photographic reflection in preparation for Easter Sunday…

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me beside quiet waters,

he restores my soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever….

copyright Donna Jones


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Mustard Time in Sonoma/Napa Counties!

Each year during the otherwise dreary months between January and March, wild mustard turns the fields and vineyards a vivid  yellow and brightens  winter days. According to legend, a Franciscan missionary spread the seed while planting missions throughout California. Now, whether wild or planted, the mustard  appears in vineyards just till bud break, when it is turned under to provide nutrients for the vines. Alexander Valley, Guerneville Road in Santa Rosa and Hwy. 128 in Napa County have especially nice fields of yellow this month! Enjoy a little color to brighten up your winter!



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Sedona and the Grand Canyon

We wandered a little further from home this time! Famous for red rock, Sedona, Arizona is a gorgeous place to photograph! And the Grand Canyon….well, I’ll let sunrise over the canyon speak for itself. We spent four days touring the two areas with our good friends,  taking over 1,000 images. Here are a few to wet your appetite for a trip to see some really amazing landscapes!

We got our first glimpse of the colorful terrain while driving down through Oak Creek Canyon from Flagstaff to Sedona:

Arriving at our hotel, Los Abrigados, was a pleasant surprise. A roomy two bedroom suite, beautiful grounds complete with swimming pools, a miniature golf course and a huge arts center next door, it was a vacation on it’s own! Just a short drive to downtown Sedona , an authentic Mexican dinner at Oaxaca Restaurant, and a stroll through the many shops made day one special!

Touring red rock country the next day  turned up one great site after another….

Courthouse Butte:

Bell Rock:

And the famous Chapel of the Holy Cross:

Even more beautiful at night!

While the others shopped at the Tlaquepaque Arts & Craft Village, I found a few images begging to be made along the “village” streets:

Leaving Sedona for the next leg of our trip found us on Route 66. The drive to the South rim  of the Grand Canyon on a partly cloudy day had me hanging out the windows  to snap shots of the dramatic sky. We drove through rain storms, emerged into the sun and into another shower numerous times across the flat lands leading to the canyon.

You just can not go to the Grand Canyon and not get up to see it at sunrise! When we first arrived I was, to say the least, underwhelmed! They were doing some controlled burns and it was smokey and flat looking at mid-day.  But at 5:30 the next morning, watching the light play over the canyon, changing  from pink to purple to gold…and again that night as the sun set in a fiery ball of orange…well, it’s a magical and beautiful landscape in that light! As I watched the sun rise on the two mornings we got up to witness the spectacular sight I had strains of the Peer Gynt Suite by Edvard Grieg ( my favorite piece of classical music) running through my mind …it is truly awe inspiring….like watching God paint a landscape just for you!

Sunset is just as beautiful!

After sun up and breakfast, a drive along the canyon rim affords many more spectacular views on a trip to the Watchtower…the brick building is charming, the old staircase inside and the Indian art and artifacts interesting.


Outside the old Watchtower this sign on the edge of the canyon was a touching surprise…

For more information and to plan a Grand Canyon  trip for your family visit

One photographic warning: Never, never, leave your camera in the car when visiting a place this beautiful.  In a sudden rain shower, I did….and nearly missed a spectacular double rainbow…captured partially here with ……you guessed it… my cell phone! A hard lesson but I won’t do that again!

















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