Each year, more than 86,000 people experience the wonder of nature at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in all its seasons. This nonprofit botanical escape is a place to play, to contemplate, to learn, to relax, to touch, to smell, to feel, to enjoy, to be inspired, and to experience the simple joy and beauty of life.
The Gardens 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' property had been purchased with grants from the California Coastal Conservancy and transferred to the Mendocino Coast Recreation and Park District (MCRPD). The property and the botanical gardens have since been under the care of Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens Corporation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) membership organization.
The Gardens 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.
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. Yet hybrids such as 'Cynthia' with its pink trusses continue to elicit enthusiastic responses from visitors. A special group is our 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.
The Perennial Garden is a delight with bulbs, flowers and grasses blooming from spring to fall. Visitors are often surprised that a mild and sometimes foggy climate can accommodate cactus and succulents, yet many grow well here.
The collection of Heaths and Heathers is a national treasure as are the species camellias. Equally, if not more important, the natural areas of the garden harbor six different rare and endangered plants. A wonderfully weird forest of pines leads to the breezy bluff of the coastal prairies and views of the Pacific Ocean in all of its moods.
The Gardens has become a haven for bird watchers with the list of bird species now at more than 180. It's rare to spot a red-throated loon or double-crested cormorant in spring, but in summer they are common, as are the black oystercatcher, which frequents the rocky coastline year-round. Ospreys, hawks, sandpipers, plovers, swallows, and Canada geese are also regulars. If you're vigilant and look carefully, on very rare occasions you might even spot an ash-throated flycatcher, a Savannah sparrow, a Pileated woodpecker, or a red-breasted nuthatch.
Educator Package: Includes educational resources, interactive project ideas, trip organization, direct experiential opportunities to help better connect the experience with your students and complimentary chaperone ticket. Does not include student ticket.
Student Package: Includes engaging pre and post educational field trip activities, trip organization and student ticket.
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
Once you submit an order for tickets with your charter school, they will reach out to us with your request. You will be receiving your e-tickets and educational materials in an email within 1-2 days after we receive that request. Please make sure to check your email spam folder if you don't see your tickets in your inbox by that time. Submitting your order at least 7-14 days prior to your trip date is generally best unless you are trying to book a venue that requires more advanced planning.