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One of my favorite places on the North Coast is the Mendocino Botanical Gardens. I always get so excited as we approach, as if we were going to Disneyland! It is highly spiritual, and naturally beautiful property. It was founded in 1961 by retired nurseryman Ernest Schoefer and his wife, Betty. Ernest's keen eye spotted the ample supply of water augmented by the mild coastal climate and quality soil essential to acid-loving plants like Rhododendrons. The Grand Opening of the Gardens was in 1966. By 1992, the Gardens had been purchased with grants from the California Coastal Conservancy and transferred to the Mendocino Coast Recreation and Park District.
The photos will speak for themselves, and the outdoor canvas is forever transforming this wild, and semi-wild garden. In March and April, hybrid rhododendrons tower overhead, dropping petals on the trails below. These old-time hybrids, planted over 40 years ago,are hard to find in nurseries today. There are bulbs,flowers and grasses blooming from spring to fall. Heaths and Heathers is a national treasure as are the species camellias.
The Gardens has become a haven for bird watchers which is a passion of mine! The list of bird species is over 150. Ospreys, hawks, sandpipers, plovers and Canada geese are also regulars. It's a place which brings out the kid in me. There is plenty of open space, cool winds, and mist which kiss and caress your face, and the wonderful aromas of the flowers is sometimes intoxicating. I can not say enough about this magical place on the North Coast...it's where I find my Zen!

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