Without a doubt, the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg, California is one the nation’s most stunning with a 47-acre global menagerie of rare and beautiful plants and a spectacular stretch of pristine coastline.
It should be good news to all that admission is free Saturday, May 7, in celebration of the 3rd Annual National Public Gardens Day. This national designation honors public gardens and their contributions in education, conservation, and ecology.
In case you didn’t know, Fort Bragg’s own Marilyn Wagner, an active local volunteer, is the daughter of nurseryman Ernest Schoefer and his wife, Betty, who founded the Garden in 1961. Marilyn’s husband is Larry Wagner, a noted portrait photographer on the Coast.
Besides its heathers and 150 species of birds, the Gardens, according to its website, “is known for its tender species rhododendrons that produce some of the most fragrant blossoms of the year. Native to the cloud forests of Southeast Asia and the Himalayas, these gems are restricted to a narrow band along the northern California coast in the U.S., where they thrive in the foggy, coastal climate.”
A special group has been designated the Fort Bragg Collection, comprised of rhododendrons hybridized in Fort Bragg.
Some, such as ‘Noyo Chief,’ the official flower of Fort Bragg, have become popular in the nursery trade.