Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Groovin' in the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

Springtime is a groovy time to visit the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Though we’d never been there before, I felt like I had for this hit tune from younger days kept playing in my head.

Mendocino, Mendocino
Where life's such a groove
You'll blow your mind in the mornin'
We used to walk through the park
Make love along the way in Mendocino

The album, Mendocino, by the Sir Douglas Quintet, came out in 1969. Lyrics were by Doug Sahm.

In fact, the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is a child of the ‘60s. It was founded in 1961 by Ernest Schoefer – a retired nurseryman – and his wife, Betty. Ernest's experience in horticulture enabled him to discover just the right combination of water, mild coastal climate and ideal soil conditions for his dream garden. The Gardens on 47 acres opened to the public in 1966. The Schoefers maintained the Gardens until 1978.

The garden is more or less divided into sections featuring particular plant groupings. The best known and most popular is the Rhododendron garden. Though we visited in May, most of the fragrant blossoms were still in bloom. These delightful shrubs are native to Southeast Asia and the Himalayas. Schoefer realized that the foggy northern California coast would be an ideal environment for them. 

Many of the older Rhododendron hybrids are no longer available to the nursery trade. The Gardens may be the only place where they can still be enjoyed.

The Perennial Garden was delightful with its mix of lilies, herbs, and annuals. The cacti and succulents were among my favorites. 

Other lovely collections include old-fashioned roses, Heaths and Heathers, camellias, and a natural area in which various endangered species thrive. Those who have the time and energy to walk a bit further will enjoy a path through a pine forest to a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

In addition to your camera, be sure to bring binoculars. Bird watchers will be amply rewarded for their patience.

Here are some more photographs from our "walk through the park."

Geranium spp.

If anyone can tell me what this is, I'd appreciate it.

Garden scene

Helianthemum 'Fire Dragon'

Aquilegia spp.

Fuschia spp.

Acer palmatum 'Holland Special'

Persicaria capitata

Bergenia cordifolia

Rhododendron 'The Honorable Jean Marie de Montague'

Limnanthes douglasii


Sedum dendroideum

Aeonium undulatum

Grevillea 'Fanfare'

Leucospermum cordifolium

Heath and Heather collection

Campanula poscharskyana

Garden scene

No matter the time of year, you'll feel like groovin' in the Gardens. There's always something to tempt you. 

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