November 10, 2011

Any visit to the Fort Bragg/Mendocino area should include a stop at the Botanical Gardens – 47 acres that includes landscaped areas, a vegetable garden, a rhododendron garden, and wild lands leading to a stunning view of the ocean and California Coast line.  We stopped in while staying in Fort Bragg in early October.  We had been to the Botanical Gardens before, but much has changed and improved there in the past 8 years since our first visit, and we enjoyed it even more.

One of the changes we noted is the inclusion of outdoor garden sculptures which appear to be made of old heavy equipment parts and other repurposed metal objects.  These were quite creative and interesting and were well-placed throughout the grounds.  We are fans of garden art so we enjoyed this very much.

The other addition we really liked was the large enclosed vegetable garden, or potager.  There were many well-tended beds of vegetables and flowers, and scarecrows scattered here and there.  We are always looking for ideas to bring home to our own garden beds, and we both really liked the garden teepees fashioned from thin pieces of rebar, allowed to rust naturally in place.


Since this is a Botanical garden after all, many different types of plants are included, and all are well-identified for the plant     enthusiast.  When you arrive you are given a map that guides you to all the various plant collections – and it is actually pretty vast so allow plenty of time to roam through them all.  Areas of interest include a perennial garden, heritage rose garden, succulents and cactus (yes, really), the rhododendrons mentioned above, a native plant garden, heather garden and many more.  The planting combinations and arrangements are not altogether inspired, but the focus is on species collecting and identification, nevertheless, color and texture combinations and plant placement are still a wonderful visual aid to all designers and gardeners.  

As designers and architects we may not have a vast plant palette as we may be more focused on layout and design, water features and more, but the plants we do work with we should know well enough to ensure their success in our gardens.  Visiting botanical gardens is way to broaden our knowledge of plant combinations and become more aware of their individual soil/light and water needs.  At the California School of Garden Design we work with our beginning students in learning more about the plants that thrive in their geographical areas by the compilation of a complete herbarium based on exposures, water needs and temperature zones.

The Mendocino Botanical Gardens have a very comprehensive and helpful website,, so if you are planning a trip up the coast to the Mendocino/Fort Bragg area, check out their website before you leave so you can see what is on at the Gardens during your visit.  Oh, and if you are a dog lover – they allow leashed dogs throughout the entire grounds.  Just remember to keep your dog on its lead, especially if you walk out to the cliffs overlooking the ocean – there is no guardrail and the drop is quite steep.


  1. […] Mendocino Coast Botannical Gardens – Well Worth A Visit!  Rob Littlepage – November 10, 2011 […]

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