Mendocino Botanical Garden

The Mendocino Botanic Garden is colorful even in the “off” season thanks to the mild climate.

I love botanical gardens (Missouri, Denver, Santa Fe, etc.) and I’ve found another one:  Mendocino Botanical Garden.  I also love Mendocino.  The combination is well worth the price of admission.   Free to the town, $8.00 to the garden.  

Mendocino is located on the Northern California coast.   It’s warmer and drier than the Oregon coast.   Mendocino is a quaint town.  So quaint that it has actually been used as a television town.  Remember Cabot Cove on Murder She Wrote?   That’s Mendocino, not New England.   If you stay at the Hill House you’ll not only get a big room you’ll see a wall with all the stars of the show.  Jessica Fletcher’s house is located on the corner of Ford and Little River.

The crew for Murder She Wrote stayed at the Hill House and used the lobby in the show. Mendocino is “Cabot Cove”

The Mendocino Botanical Garden is a nice visit regardless of the season.  It is decorated with Christmas lights in December, making a visit after dark more memorable.  All year the plants look good thanks to the near tropical environment.  These shots were taken in November.  You can also take home more than photographs from the garden.  The garden has a gift shop as well as a nursery.  So you can bring home some seeds (like me) or you can bring home a plant from the garden.

Succulents are a mainstay in Mendocino gardens.   The botanic garden has a good display of succulent plants.  We grow many of these plants as tender annuals, but they thrive in the frost protected environment of the California coast.  

You might find it surprising that in such a mild climate to find many of the same conifers that we grow in Spokane.  Picea orientalis (Skylands, Firefly, Tom Thumb) does just as well in that location as here.  Of course, since many of the world’s tallest trees, the redwoods, surround the northern California coast, it is not surprising to find a nice looking conifer. 

A nice sculpture on the left, and a display of heath on the right. Lots to see in the garden

Heaths and heathers are another area of special display in the garden.  The fog and moist air mimics the growing conditions in the British Isles.  In Spokane’s climate I suggest mostly relying on heathers (Calluna) whereas on the CA coast, the reliance is primarily on heaths (Erica).

The warmth of Cape Town also translates well to Mendocino.   The South African version of ornamental grass, the restio, grows beautifully in the Mendocino Botanical Garden.   My favorite restio, Elegia capensis, is represented by a mature clump in perfect condition.  There’s a great example of a Protea as well:  the Banksia was in full bloom at the time of my visit.

Elegia capensis is my favorite restio. A South African native thriving in Mendocino.

The Spokane gardener will find many unexpected sights in the garden.  I spotted a Hellebore in bloom in November, as well as a substantial rebloom on the clumps of Bergenia.  

All in all, a visit to the Mendocino (coast) Botanical Garden will take you to the tropics as well as to a lovely display of coastal gardening.

A view of the Mendocino coastline…another great reason to love this spot.

Bergenia is spring for us, but a nice rebloom was noted in November in Mendocino.

Banksia looks like a pine with the beautiful blooms of a South African protea.