Conservation & Education at The Garden
Plant and Natural Area Conservation is a cornerstone value of our organization. As a botanical garden, our plant collections represent the assets most revered by all Garden stakeholders. These assets are protected through our conservation efforts. Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens safeguards and nurtures plants that are rare, endangered, suited to the coastal Northern California climate and native to the Mendocino Coast. An integral aspect of our operations is our continued leadership in providing a working model for ecologically sound practices in an environmentally unstable world. By demonstrating conservation and restoration practices in our natural areas, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens increases local biodiversity and ensures natural landscapes to survive for generations. The footprints of our Educational endeavors are ubiquitous throughout the Gardens. From a one-hour eye-opening tour of the grounds to our three month Master Gardener program, the Gardens serve the local and visiting communities as a living museum and research facility. The Gardens uses its exhibits, workshops, docent-led tours and interpretative materials to educate visitors, grade-school children, interns and others on the benefits of a conservation-minded society. Birding, whale-watching, mushroom identification, composting, pruning and wreath-making is a small sample of the educational opportunities the Garden offers. Locally, our Gardens' have trained a dedicated brigade of volunteers that have enriched not only their personal lives, but our facility and horticultural displays immensely. With the prospect for education woven into the entire visitor experience (through garden design, native plant interpretation, plant characteristics, etc.), the Gardens is a leader in providing local environmental knowledge in a global world.
Conservation Programs The 47-acres at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens are host to numerous working ecological engines. Some engines, such as the fungi decomposers and water-producing streams, have been operating before we sowed our first seed. Other natural engines have been restored to their natural capacity thanks to remediation efforts over the years. The Gardens is continuing to strive to build ecological "best practices" into our operations and our conservation programs showcase those efforts. Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens' unique geography combines the beauty of cultivated and managed gardens with the natural landscapes of our coastal region. Whether it is an endangered big-leaf rhododendron from the Himalayas or the native Mendocino Coast Indian Paintbrush, the first step in plant conservation is plant records and accession. Having a detailed record of a plants origin, habitat, and cultivation requirements is essential in maintaining the species' population. Modern plant record-keeping techniques build on a worldwide network of botanical gardens that safeguard our planet's plant and fungi species. The natural areas of Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens constitute a vital component of our conservation practices. The Gardens represents a distinct conservation opportunity for plants suited to the Mediterranean climates of the oceanic eco-niche of northern California. Particular plant species thrive in this zone and it is apart of our mission to conserve these specimens. The natural areas of the Gardens play host to marine zones, coastal bluffs, riparian zones, fresh emergent wetland, annual grassland, coastal scrub and closed-cone pine forests. Beginning in 2000, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens started work on protecting and enhancing the entire Digger Creek corridor west of Highway One. Digger Creek has a drainage area of about 775 acres and provides important wildlife habitats and is the Gardens' only source of irrigation water. As a non-profit public garden it is apart of our mission to continue to develop our role as a regional resource for conservation practices. By reaching out beyond our property boundaries we maximize the benefit of those practices. Making partnerships with other state agencies, non-profits and organizations expands the reach of our collective efforts and strengthens our conservation abilities. Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens has been propagating native plants for state agencies CALTRANS and State Parks in mitigation projects throughout the North Coast. These projects entail collecting, processing and growing native plant propagules associated with the vegetation types in the project area. Native plant repopulation projects allow us to provide our botanical expertise to the community and strengthen our ties to local community organizations. Related link: Dorothy King Young Chapter - California Native Plant Society
Educational Programs We consider all donations to the Gardens as another opportunity to extend our reach in fostering a larger community of gardeners, conservationists, nature-lovers, botanists, artists, students and those who wish to be inspired. The Gardens' educational programs offer a variety of learning opportunities for the new and experienced garden-lovers alike. From the small garden ecology of our backyards to the grandeur of our coastal mountain ranges, bringing the wonder of these places to the public is a role Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens has cherished. The educational workshops offered at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens' play a vital role in our educational program. The diversity of our workshops allows everyone from the general gardener to the global warming activist to learn in our living classroom. In order to expand our reach we occasionally conduct talks and workshops around the community for interested organizations and societies. The following is a list of workshops we have offered in the last few years: • Identification and cultivation: mushrooms, salvias, dahlias, heather, camellias, Rhododendrons, lavender, succulents and native plants • Gardening Techniques: plant propagation, pruning and irrigation A long-time favorite of many amateur naturalists is our staff-led monthly walks. Each Monday, a staff member leads a walk through the gardens highlighting and educating the public on different seasonally-dependent and varied themes. Look for the following walks on your next trip to the Gardens: • Natural History walks • Mushroom, Plant and Bird Identification walks • Bloom walks • Whale Watching walks In 2007, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens introduced our newest program in our educational portfolio; the Master Gardener Volunteer Program. The Master Gardener program trains participants in environmentally-friendly home horticulture, pest identification, landscape management and other environmental and natural resource issues. Along with Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, the program is directed and administered by the county UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) and is a partnership among the University of California, the USDA, county governments and California residents. Beginning in January 2007, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens enrolled 33 participants in the program, completing 60 hours of class time, with all 33 passing the final exam. Currently, the graduates are completing their 50 hours of volunteer work for full certification. The volunteer activities are designed to reach out to the general public, enlightening them on the benefits of healthy gardens, reducing fertilizer and pesticide pollutants, conserving water and composting green waste. These goals are being attained through: • Talks and demonstrations • Coordinating the "From the Ground Up" home horticulture workshop series • Staffing information tables at the local farmers' markets • Hosting displays at the county fair • Answering questions at our nursery • Leading 979 people on docent tours at the Gardens in 2007 The children who visit Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens every year view the Gardens as both a living museum and a beautiful playground. The youth educational programs and tours at the Gardens offer children a fertile setting for learning. In 2007, the Gardens hosted 953 children on tours of the various gardens and natural areas on the property. A mainstay at the Gardens is Parents and Friends, a local non-profit that serves children and adults with developmental disabilities. Part of Parents and Friends' mission is assure the handicapped people have the opportunity to participate within the community and have found the Gardens as an ideal location for building skills, esteem and good-times. Along with tours of the Gardens, Parents and Friends volunteer a majority of their time within the Vegetable Garden, the Display House and partaking in plant propagation activities.