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Northern California Regional Reports

Field Trip Notes: Rambling Through the Rhododendrons of the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens | Northern California Regional Report

'Cynthia' rhododendron. Photo: Fionuala Campion

Portraying itself as “47 acres of botanical bliss fronting the Pacific Ocean,” the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens (MCBG) is a heavenly place to visit any time of year with its impressive ocean views, exquisite perennial and vegetable gardens, and miles of meandering trails through the fascinating plant collections. For the rhododendron (Rhododendron spp. and cvs., Zones 4-9) enthusiast, however, the peak bloom months of spring are particularly delightful, when over 1,000 hybrid rhodies—thriving in Fort Bragg’s cool coastal climate, acidic soils, and mild winters—put on a spectacularly colorful show.

‘Faggetter’s Favorite’ rhododendron. Photo: Fionuala Campion

The impressive collection was developed over the years with the enthusiasm, dedication, and hard work of true experts, beginning with Ernie Schoefer and his wife Betty, who planted the first of many rhododendrons in their Mendocino County garden in the early 1960s. Local nurserymen, sharing Ernie’s love of rhododendrons, began to donate their…

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