- Author: Michelle Davis
Betty Victor wrote a wonderful blog about Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens recently. She encouraged blog readers to visit, and I can heartily second that. What many may not know is that December is actually a beautiful time to visit. While the summer-blooming flowers are gone, there are still a lot of others that are just getting going including the rhododendrons. I can also think of two other great reasons to visit.
During weekends from the end of November and into December, the gardens come to life at night. Thousands of Christmas lights illuminate the core of the gardens. Lava pours from a stump. A dragon blows smoke in the green area. I was there in late October of last year, and volunteers were already hanging the lights. When I returned for a weekend evening in December with my husband, the gardens were truly magical. The imaginative light placement and designs were amazing. It was chilly and a little damp, but a choir was singing in the heated tent at the end of the trail. They were really good, and so was the hot cocoa!
The other reason to visit late in the year is that the whales are migrating. Take the time to walk the trail to the coast. If it's rainy or drizzly, there is an enclosed area with a large panel of windows and a front-row view of the coast. You can watch for whales in there. We took our dogs (yes, they let you take your dogs into the gardens!), and we walked out to the coastal edge of the gardens. We stood there for about an hour and saw at least a half-dozen whales' spouts and flukes, a pod of orcas, and lots of sea birds.
It takes a while to get there, but it's well worth the trip!