A springtime visit to Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg, California
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is located along California’s scenic Pacific Coast Highway, State Route 1 at Fort Bragg. The Gardens was founded in 1961 by retired nurseryman Ernest Schoefer and his wife Betty. The Grand Opening occurred in 1966. Today the Gardens belong to Mendocino Coast Recreation and Park District. The Gardens is known for its tender species Rhododendrons. Native to the cloud forests of Southeast Asia and the Himalayas, they thrive in the foggy, coastal climate of the northern California coast.
More than 1,000 rhododendrons can be seen at the Gardens. Not all bloom at once. There are early, mid and late season bloomers. March and April are typically the time to see rhododendrons in bloom. I visited in mid-April and was amazed to see so many different kinds and colours of rhododendrons.
The Gardens has more than rhododendrons. Other collections include begonias, fuschia, camellias, heath and heather, heritage roses, magnolias and succulents. The dahlia garden didn’t look like much when I visited, but I imagine it would be quite splendid at the end of summer. There is even a vegetable garden.
Natural areas of the garden harbour rare and endangered plants. A walk through pines leads to a bluff of coastal prairies and views of the Pacific Ocean. The Gardens has become a haven for bird-watchers.
Mendocino Coast Gardens is open every day except the Saturday after Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Main trails are wheelchair accessible to the ocean. There is a café on site. You can purchase food to take into the garden or bring your own picnic lunch. Well-mannered dogs on leashes are allowed.
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jacquiegumMay 15, 2016 at 11:41 am
Rhododendrons have long been a favorite of mine. Maybe because I’ve not lived anywhere that was suitable for their growth:) Looks like Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is the place to be dazzled by them! Wonderful pictures!
Donna JankeMay 17, 2016 at 8:58 am
Jacquie, they don’t grow where I live either and I amazed to see how many varieties and colours there were.
Anita and Richard @ No Particular Place To GoMay 16, 2016 at 1:28 am
Glorious! I love places like these where the gardens become the art displays. The Mendocino Gardens look like a lovely place to stroll and linger. Anita
Donna JankeMay 17, 2016 at 8:59 am
Anita, we didn’t have time to linger long in Mendocino Gardens but it would have been a lovely spot to stay for a while with a book or picnic lunch.
Jeri Walker (@JeriWB)May 16, 2016 at 11:57 pm
I first discovered rhododendrons (or at least became aware of what they were actually called) when living in North Carolina. Some of the best pictures I’ve ever taken were up in a mountain stream when thousand of blossoms were floating on the water and wafting in the air. It was magical. I also went to the Roan Mountain Rhododendron festival with my cousin in Tennessee. Seeing all those blooms over the hillsides was quite the sight.
Donna JankeMay 17, 2016 at 9:00 am
Jeri, the blossoms on the water does sound magical. As does the blooms over a hillside.
Susan Cooper/findingourwaynow.comMay 17, 2016 at 1:51 pm
Hi Donna, I’ve been to Mendocino before, but not the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg. It’s on my short list of places to get to, especially since its so close by. Looks like a tranquil place and the rhododendrons are stunning.
Donna JankeMay 18, 2016 at 8:37 am
Susan, it is tranquil. They are known for their rhododendrons but there are a lot of other plants there as well and it would be interesting to see what is in bloom at other times of the year.
Sabrina QuairoliMay 17, 2016 at 3:07 pm
I love rhododendrons. They are so beautiful. My backyard is narrow and I just can’t fit them in my backyard. That’s one reason why I go to botanical gardens in different cities. =) Thanks for sharing.
Donna JankeMay 18, 2016 at 8:38 am
Sabrina, I love to visit botanical gardens too and see the plants I love but cannot grow because of space or climate.
Ken DowellMay 17, 2016 at 3:36 pm
Some beautiful color. I especially like the pink ones in the top of page image. But if I were to find myself there, you would probably find me hanging around the desert garden. Have always been fascinated by desert plant life.
Donna JankeMay 18, 2016 at 8:40 am
Ken, I’m fascinated by desert plant life too. Possibly because the plants can be quite different and their beauty is found in unexpected places, growing under tough conditions.
Catarina AlexonMay 18, 2016 at 3:31 am
Nice pictures. Love rhodondendrons and grew up surrounded by them. Not only in our gardens but in public places as well.
Donna JankeMay 18, 2016 at 8:41 am
Catarina, you were lucky to have such beauty around you.
lenie5860May 18, 2016 at 4:12 am
Donna, I am so envious of these gardens – wish I could grow rhododendrons here, they are a most beautiful plant. I went to the Royal Botanical Gardens with my son and his family and had a marvelous time in similar type beauty. If I had to do it all over again I think I would squeeze a landscaping course into my schedule. What you can do with plants is fascinating.
Donna JankeMay 18, 2016 at 8:42 am
Lenie, I wanted to take a landscaping course too but it never quite worked out. I no longer much to landscape so it’s unlikely I’ll take one now.
PhoeniciaMay 18, 2016 at 3:02 pm
Such beautiful flowers. The gardens are simply breathtaking.
I feel a holiday coming on!
Donna JankeMay 20, 2016 at 8:33 am
heraldmartyMay 19, 2016 at 2:55 pm
This is just beautiful Donna and I made a note of it because I’m planning a visit to my niece in CA and this looks like a great addition to the itinerary. Thanks!
Donna JankeMay 20, 2016 at 8:35 am
Marquita, I hope you enjoy the Gardens if you get a chance to visit. You will have to let me know what is in bloom at the time of year you’re there.
RuthMay 19, 2016 at 8:04 pm
Oh my! What a beautiful place! I haven’t been to Mendocino yet (or places north of San Francisco). It is one of those places that have escaped my plans for a long time. I hope I can visit soon.
Donna JankeMay 20, 2016 at 8:36 am
Ruth, the area around Mendocino and Fort Bragg is beautiful. The Pacific Coast Highway is a stunning drive.
kathymarrisMay 19, 2016 at 10:07 pm
Incredibly beautiful! I will have to visit here.
Donna JankeMay 20, 2016 at 8:37 am
Kathy, it is worth a visit when you’re in the area.
budgettraveltalkMay 20, 2016 at 1:02 am
A lovely array of blooms and so close to the ocean cliffs as well. Great for a walk after checking out the rhododendrons.
Donna JankeMay 20, 2016 at 8:39 am
It is a lovely walk along the ocean cliffs. Also a nice spot to just stop and sit for a while.
Jason BMay 20, 2016 at 3:13 pm
The gardens look wonderful.
Donna JankeMay 22, 2016 at 10:18 am
Brooke of Passport CoutureMay 20, 2016 at 10:00 pm
Although all of the gardens in this botanical garden are beautiful, it’s the rhododendrons that steal the show! Thanks for all of the wonderful and inviting springtime flowers.
Donna JankeMay 25, 2016 at 8:12 am
Brooke, the rhododendrons really did steal the show!
Grey World NomadsMay 21, 2016 at 8:37 am
The Rhododendrons are also out in England finally. I’m not sure if there are as much colours as in Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg, California. But they are just beautiful! #TPThursday
Donna JankeMay 22, 2016 at 10:19 am
They’re beautiful in any colour, aren’t there?
EricaMay 21, 2016 at 11:25 am
Mendocino Gardens looks so beautiful. I went to Descano Gardens earlier this year on free museum day and I just loved it. I went during winter when things weren’t in bloom but it was still wonderful. I also love that you can bring dogs. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be up in that direction, but I’ll definitely check it out if I am.
Donna JankeMay 22, 2016 at 10:21 am
Erica, it is interesting to visit the same gardens at different times of the year – it’s like visiting different gardens. It’s nice when a garden can still be beautiful in winter.
InsideJourneysMay 21, 2016 at 5:18 pm
Wow, these gorgeous rhododendrons are so beautiful. They make me smile!
Donna JankeMay 22, 2016 at 10:22 am
They made me smile too.
ramonamckeanMay 21, 2016 at 7:41 pm
Beautiful. As regards flowers, I think there ought to be a law, especially when they’re pretty. They must be fragrant! Rhodos are too pretty not to smell sweet. Azaleas the same thing, except the orange and yellow ones, at least around here. Their fragrance is spicy sweet.
Donna JankeMay 22, 2016 at 10:24 am
Azaleas and rhododendrons are very similar. I’ve read what differentiates them but I’m not sure I could tell them apart without help. The spicy sweet fragrance of the orange and yellow azaleas intrigues me.
Rosary NataniaMay 21, 2016 at 11:30 pm
Those rhododendrons are absolutely beautiful! I love visiting botanical gardens to de-stress and get away from the city life once in a while. Thanks for sharing this post!
Donna JankeMay 22, 2016 at 10:26 am
Rosary, botanical gardens are good de-stressers for sure. I also like visiting them when I travel when they provide insight into the local plants and eco-systems. Thanks for stopping byd.
Zaria PapaMay 24, 2016 at 5:22 pm
The flowers are so beautiful, I totally love your photos! It looks like a perfect garden to walk with your family or with friends. I would personally enjoy such an experience. Thank you for sharing!
Donna JankeMay 25, 2016 at 8:13 am
Zaria, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. It is a nice garden to walk through with family or friends.
Rose Mary GriffithMay 31, 2016 at 4:16 am
Lovely! The varied colors of the flowers is one of my favorite things. Our rhododendrons were just beginning to bud before I left on this trip. I hope I haven’t missed the glorious colors.