When Donna first went into the canyon that would become Compass Rose Gardens, she had to crawl on her hands and knees to get through the overgrown tangle of underbrush and poison oak that crowded the property. She would return often to sit, contemplate and envision what was to be there.
Sitting for hours on the site, and studying horticulture books in her spare time, Donna began to visualize a garden design. During the earliest months, Donna's husband, Clarence, and son Steve did much of the clearing on the property. With help from the other Freeman siblings, Scott, Kevin, Melissa and Melinda, The creek was restored and the berry vines and poison oak were removed. Finally the garden was ready for planting. Native ferns, fuchsias, calla lilies, laurel and existing plants were lovingly tended and incorporated into the new garden design.
Much more planting and planning followed. A bridge, deck areas, and outbuildings were added over the next decade, followed by the "roof raising" on the tented pavilion, a gift to Donna and Clarence from a large group friends as a thank you for their continued community support and involvement.
The areas designed those many years ago are still existing and have grown beautiful and lush. No garden is ever truly "completed" and Compass Rose is no exception. Donna and company are now designing the hillside terrace gardens which will lead the guests at the planned Inn at Compass Rose Gardens back and forth for their enjoyment of the gardens.
Donna was born in Arkansas and moved to Tracy, California as a young girl. She attended Tracy High School, and she and husband, Clarence, moved to Bodega Bay in 1959.
Donna has been a member of the local Grange, a Bodega Bay Fire District Director, a member of the Governor's Blue Ribbon Committee on State Parks, listed in Who's Who in the West, Who's Who of American Women, and Who's Who in California.
Donna has been featured on HGTV's "Secret Gardens of Sonoma" and on American Movie Classics, doing a feature on the filming of "The Birds" in which she and Clarence were extras. Donna and Clarence have ownership of the gazebo that was featured in the movie's "birthday party" scene, and the gazebo is now a favorite feature of the gardens.