AAA Editor Notes
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is 1 mi. s. on SR 1. This 47-acre facility is one of the few gardens located directly on an ocean shore. A half-mile stroll begins at a manicured perennial garden. Pathways wind past succulents, camellias, rhododendrons, rose and dahlia gardens, and a coastal forest of pines, magnolias and ferns that leads to bluffs overlooking the Pacific.
This is a seasonal garden, with something to delight the eye at any time of year. Dahlias, heritage roses and perennials are at their peak in summer. Summer and fall is harvest time at the demonstration vegetable and herb garden. More than 150 kinds of wild mushrooms appear beginning in late fall. Mature camellia shrubs are in bloom from fall throughout the winter.
You'll see unusual plants from all over the world like Faber's fir, native to western China. This conifer produces cones that are a lovely blue-purple color. Honeywort, a drought-tolerant, herbaceous annual, is also called the blue shrimp plant for the appearance of its tubular purple flowers (which have a honey-like aroma) and blue flower bracts.
Rhododendrons are the gardens' signature plant; the climate is optimal for cultivation, and there are species from around the world as well as varieties hybridized by local rhododendron enthusiasts. They range from shrubs to 20-foot-tall trees, with exquisite flowers in many different colors. The rhodies are in bloom from early April to mid-May; spring is also the time when coastal bluffs are dotted with California poppies and other wildflowers.
The seaside Cliff House off the Coastal Bluff Trail is a great spot to contemplate the ocean, especially for whale watching during winter and spring. A retail nursery on the premises sells a variety of native plants. Art in the Gardens, the first Saturday in August, features art exhibits, food, wine and music with the gardens' summer beauty as a backdrop. Each November the Festival of Lights transforms the gardens into a winter wonderland of luminescent displays.
Pet friendly (call for restrictions/fees.). Picnicking is permitted. Food is available. Time: Allow 2 hours minimum.