Springtime means dozens of varieties of peonies are in bloom at Chateau CharMarron Peony Gardens, a nursery that's only open a few months each year. Tucked away in the Milpitas foothills up Calaveras Road, visitors will be rewarded with views of the reservoir and the fragrance and beauty of the gardens itself.
Owner Marcia Reed can be found walking around the farm, assisting customers, while her husband, Charles, has a olive orchard on the grounds from which he produces olive oil. Pick up a few bottles or 5-gallon buckets of peonies as a souvenir of your trip.
Chateau CharMarron is located at 5335 Sierra Road, San Jose, 95132. Website: is www.4peonies.com, visitors are welcome 9 a.m.-6 p.m., except Weds., when their hours are 8 a.m.-10 a.m.