Short Cruise to Troll Knoll

A Short Cruise to Troll Knoll in Penn Valley

Roamin’ Angels Car Club • Earth Day, April 22

The Head Troll, Poppy and the Roamin Angels Tour Group.

The Head Troll, Poppy the Boxer and the Roamin Angels Tour Group.

Starting the cruise season with a short cruise is a good way to get the cobwebs out of our classics. A group of 23 Roamin Angels cruised down Hwy 20 to Penn Valley and met our tour hosts, John and Ann of Troll Knoll for lunch at the Northridge.

After a brief introduction of our hosts, John (aka the Head Troll) spoke to the group about Troll Knoll and gave us a brief history about the place while we waited on our lunch.

After an excellent lunch, we headed down Penn Valley Drive towards Oak Canyon and Troll Knoll. Troll Knoll is a private residence that sits on 20 acres. Parking is a premium but John had everyone park on the various trails within the garden as well as in the driveway.

Why Troll Knoll

Head Troll

John, the Head Troll

For those wondering why John developed Troll Knoll the way he did, here’s a background story. Like most of the garden, it’s a conceptual metaphor. It is also a love story about a husband’s love for his wife. It’s a story that spans decades. The garden was started as a ‘getaway’ for the the head troll and his spouse…a place to unwind after a long and sometime stressful day at work.

Over the next 24 years, John and Ann expanded their garden adding a total of 119 vignettes that are themed by these ‘conceptual metaphors’. There are flying pigs, schools of fish, a mining shaft that doubles as a wine cellar; there’s a town called Annsville – there is afterall a Marysville, so why not an Annsville? Annsville is complete with a hotel, Sheriff’s office and other outbuildings that are actually usable and functional. There’s Pinky’s trailer park complete with 3 airstreams and a field of pink flamingos. The garden runs the gamut from ancient times with ruins and statues to a high heel walk that was actually the first garden John designed. There’s also a raceway and a 9-hole golf course.

The High Heel Walk was the first vignette that was designed with his wife, Ann, in mind. It was a place to unwind after Ann got home from work. Today, Troll Knoll has about 3 miles of paved or defined paths.

A Garden Like No Other

Pond Won, one of the seven ponds at Troll Knoll

Pond Won, one of the seven ponds at Troll Knoll

Troll Knoll is the ultimate in using what’s on hand and recycling. Ann and John have propagated about 90% of the plants on the property and utilized all the rocks that they dug up on the property turning them into walls and other landscaping. Troll Knoll’s plants were placed to provide the optimum color and bloom arrangement throughout the seasons. There is always something blooming and the garden’s scene changes on a regular basis.

There are seven ponds on Troll Knoll. John designed the waterways utilizing gravity, sand and flumes to move the water around the property. John claims to spend about 20 hours a week gardening. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

Troll Knoll also provides citrus fruits, apples, pomegranates, and figs as well as a vineyard that doubles as a maze and vegetable and herbs galore!

Our group enjoyed the tour tremendously and we’re looking forward to the next tour in October to see how the garden ‘like no other’ changes with the season.

Want more information about Troll Knoll?

If you want to schedule a tour, be aware that the number of tours the Morris’ do are limited… it is afterall a private garden. Their website is and there is also a beautiful hardbound book entitled “Troll Knoll, a Garden Like No Other” written by Richard Tracy, former SacBee garden guru with photos by John available for sale online. It’s not your typical garden book, it’s a love story that includes a gorgeous garden.

To view the entire photo gallery from the Roamin Angels, CLICK HERE

– Written by Diane Blakley, Editor, Roamin Angels’ Newsletter

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