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I just returned from another little Mendocino getaway. Mendocino always leaves you wanting more. There’s so much to do, so much to see, so much to eat, and never enough time to do it all. This time I happened to be there during the annual Wine and Mushroom Festival. I was also really lucky to be able to go on a mushroom walk led by two California mushroom experts, Taylor Lockwood and Charmoon Richardson at Van Damme State Park. The walk was great… a little too drizzly to bring my camera, but exciting nonetheless. These guys are as nuts about mushrooms as I am about plants! It’s always great to encounter passionate people. On the walk, they pointed out the complexities of distinguishing edible mushrooms from poisonous ones. You really have to know your stuff if you’re going to cook and eat wild mushrooms. I think I’ll stick to mushrooms grown in captivation, thank you very much. The idea of dying while lying in the wet woods clutching a frying pan just doesn’t hold much appeal for me. A mushroom photo expedition on the other hand…

I stopped by the Mendo Bot. Gardens nursery and gift shop and left with a few plants and a book. The plants weren’t anything I couldn’t get locally or in the bay area, but that’s no excuse for not buying the following:

  • Mexican lobelia (Lobelia laxiflora)— It was blooming near the demo garden and I couldn’t resist bringing one home. They supposedly tolerate extreme abuse and are attractive and hummer-attracting.
  • Chondropetalum tectorum (aka a “restio”)– I finally couldn’t talk myself out of its exorbitant price and I only want one. Ever.
  • Anemanthele lessoniana (syn. Stipa or Apera arundinacea)– because I killed the ones I bought at Annie’s Annuals. Know when they died? This fall, immediately after being divided! They looked utterly dividable at the time, so I don’t know what to say…

As for the book… I asked the salesperson manning the front desk if they had any books about the gardens. What she produced was an HGTV book called Flower Gardening… Bring Home the Secrets of Great Gardens. It profiles not just the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, but twenty North American public gardens and includes expert tips from the gardens’ caretakers. Plenty o’ color pics too.

Ooh, and from Highway 1, I spotted tree dahlias (Dahlia imperialis) in bloom at Heritage House. I couldn’t resist pulling over to snap some pics of their spectacular dahlias. If you’re into movie trivia (I am)… you should know that this romantic inn happens to be where Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn filmed Same Time Next Year.




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