Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden is located 2 miles south of Ft Bragg and 7 miles north of the village of Mendocino, straddling 47 acres between Highway 1 and the Pacific. The spectacular beauty of the coastline in Mendocino County itself is a feature of the gardens, as the trails that meander through its’ meadows and woodlands terminate at the sea. The garden is in USDA zone 9B, in fact the same zone as Napa Valley.
This striking plant is native to the southwest corner of Australia, a Mediterranean climate region with hot dry summers and mild winters, much like our own. The foliage is green and strap like forming a clump whose size can vary depending on the cultivar -from A. flavidus which can attain 3 to 4 foot clumps to A. rufus which usually stays under 2 feet .
An unusual event occurred in a recent winter and early spring, one that has been on hiatus for quite some time. That would be the rainy season…days and days when that wet stuff falls out of the sky. Gardeners were elated-and so were the weeds. I don’t know about you, but I was taken by surprise, having become accustomed to a drought induced, less frenzied spring weeding season.
This bloom heavy tender perennial from Chile is a fine choice for the summer-dry garden. Featuring bright magenta, poppy shaped blooms on limber 2ft stems poised delicately above succulent blue-gray toned foliage, this plant makes a tidy mound. Roughly 1ft high by by 3 to 4 ft wide at maturity. Flower production starts in spring and continues until fall.
This perennial grass of African origin forms a tidy clump 2ft high and 3ft wide that provides movement and textural contrast for your garden. It works well as both as a single focal point or planted in drifts or groups if space allows. The foliage is an agreeable glossy green with discreet suggestions of burgundy . The red toned fuzzy flower plumes are particularly alluring if sited where they can be viewed backlit by the morning or evening sun.
Westringia is an evergreen shrub that comes to us from Australia, where it grows in exposed locations on coastal cliffs. Mature size can be variable, depending on the cultivar grown, garden location and irrigation practices. Hybrid varieties such as ‘Blue Gem and ‘Sorrento Coast’ tend to stay a bit more compact. Having said that, even the species takes well to light shearing to maintain size and shape. Sizes range from 3-6 ft tall to 5 to 10ft wide.
It can be a challenge to find that one element to act as a focal point around which we can build a cohesive theme for our gardens. We may be seeking a color story, a design style (i.e. cottage, tropical, native) or just a component to draw the eye into a specific area of the garden. Perhaps we wish to create vignettes by grouping pleasing textures, colors and forms together.