Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens : Volunteer Newsletter
Spring 2018
View this email in your browser

Luscious ferns provide a contrasting backdrop
to the Rhododendron  'Klondyke' , a deciduous Azalea


Spring 2018

Dear MCBG Volunteers,

Changes abound at the Gardens this spring. A whole slew of new sculptures are moving in as part of the rotating sculpture gallery thanks to our partnership with the Arts Council of Mendocino County. We are hosting our first ever children's workshop. New construction throughout the Gardens is underway, with the farmhouse renovation project wrapping up early this summer.

On top of all that, we are BUSY. So busy, in fact, that our attendance is up 28% from last fiscal year! If you were at the Gardens on a regular basis over the winter, you may have noticed that we did not have an "off-season" this year. Part of that was due to a mild winter -- I remember a stretch in January that we had nearly 70 degree weather!-- and part is because this area, whether we like it or not, is becoming more and more of a vacation destination. But most notably, our increased attendance is due to the supreme visual beauty of the gardens, the excellent guest experience provided by our staff and volunteers, and our prominent position and favorable reputation that we have been able to uphold in the community.

The consistent support of our volunteers plays a huge role in our ability to stand strong for this last year. And while all of us may experience some growing pains as we expand, we know we can accomplish anything with our dedicated volunteer family by our side. So thank you for sticking with us and helping made this lil' ol' non-profit botanical gardens thrive!

Molly Rosenthal
Administrative Assistant/Volunteer Coordinator


Please share this newsletter with anyone who may be interested in joining the MCBG volunteer family!

LOCAL Partnership

MCBG teams up with Alleyway Art Project

Fort Bragg is about to get a lot more vibrant. In a project to further beautify our already-stunning coastal community, local arts non-profit Flockworks has powered Alleyway Art Project -- an ambitious plan to bring glorious, inspiring, public art to the alleyways and overlooked spaces in Fort Bragg, California.

MCBG teamed up with Flockworks to sponsor the first mural of this project,  a rhododendron painting  by local artist Ferric Decay located on East Redwood Avenue behind Coast Hardware. The imagery for this mural was inspired by the artist's trip to the Botanical Gardens this winter where he snapped a photo of the showstopping Rhododendron 'Pink Delight'. The mural is slated for completion this week with a launch party in the works for Friday, May 25th at 6:00PM. We hope you will attend!

Keep your eyes peeled for more vibrant additions to Fort Bragg's public art corridor in the coming months.

We've Got THE BLUES!

MCBG wins a blue ribbon on at the Rhododendron Show

MCBG took home 14 blue ribbons and the trophies for Best 'Noyo Chief' and Best Pink Rhododendron at this month's 41st Annual John Druecker Memorial Rhododendron Show put on by the Noyo Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society and MCBG. With 826 entries, we maintain our title as the largest rhododendron show in California.
Our volunteers won big too!
Best Deciduous Azalea Spray: Fran & Ted Steinhardt
Best White Rhododendron: John Winding
Sweepstakes Award: Dennis & Valerie McKiver

See full results and photos here!

RAISE the roof

Prop House gets a new lid

A new roof has been installed on the Propagation House. The old one had not been replaced in over 10 years and was quite clouded and dingy. A new roof will allow much more sunlight through, and will help baby rhodies, begonias and fuchsias reach for their fullest potential!

This project was funded by the Friends of the Gardens Wine Raffle, which will also cover the cost of a new Display House roof later this year. Thank you FOG and FOG donors!
Check out FOG's new website and be sure to follow FOG
on Facebook for the latest on their FUNdraisers.

AIG Tickets on Sale Now!

The widely-anticipated summer fundraiser Art in the Gardens is fast approaching on Saturday August 4th. Advance tickets are now on sale online, at The Garden Store, Harvest Market in Fort Bragg, and Out of This World in Mendocino.

Keep an eye out for the call for Art in the Gardens volunteers in the coming months. As an AIG volunteer you will get a free t-shirt featuring this year's featured artwork by Sanna M. Koski and the opportunity to enjoy the event free of charge before or after your shift.

MAY DAY Bluff Restoration

On May 1st MCBG Staff Gardener Jenny Lang and retired-MCBG-Gardener-turned-volutneer Mario Abreu lead a group of volunteers and Master Gardeners in the removal of the Lampranthus sp. seedlings on and around the Mt. Promontory rock outcrop at the MCBG headlands. The group was able to remove three garbage bags of the invasive ice plant. In its place, they planted 180 specimens of  Dudleya farinosa, a CA native succulent.

The group was provided with an introduction of the coast bluff plant community, the source of the Dudleya, and background of the introduced South African invasive plants Lampranthus sp., Carpobrotus edulis, and Carpobrotus chilensis that once dominated the native plant community until significant work began in the late 1990’s.

"The DKY Native Plant Society and I are very pleased that MCBG has joined the replanting project work lead by California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Native Plant Society, and local Chapters to provide appropriate home sites of the more than 2,300 Dudleya farinosa that were recently poached from our California coastal habitats for profit by a few individuals. Many thanks to MCBG!" said Mario Abreu.

Until the seasonal rains take over at the end of fall, the Dudleya will need to be irrigated weekly (a job generously undertaken by volunteer Rick Traficant). As spring emerges next year and the weather dries up the plants not need any hand irrigation.

Photos by JoAnne Abreu and Molly Rosenthal

Why "Lazy" Mowers are Heroes for Bees

Mowing less often can benefit your local bees, study finds
Article By Russell McLendon
Submitted by MCBG Volunteer Geri Morisky

There's no shame in an unmowed lawn. Not only can wild yards and gardens look better than commonly believed, but cutting back on cutting grass can save significant time, energy and money. According to a new study, it could even help save bees.

Led by ecologist Susannah Lerman at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the U.S. Forest Service, the study examined how homeowners can boost bee habitat with their lawn-care habits. Mowing every other week seems to be the sweet spot.

"We found that backyards can be a surprisingly beneficial habitat for bees," Lerman says in a statement. "Mowing less frequently is practical, economical and a time-saving alternative to replacing lawns or even planting pollinator gardens."

Flower Power

Why would bees care how often we cut our grass? By mowing every two weeks instead of weekly, we allow more blooming of "weed" flowers like clover and dandelions, thus providing more foraging habitat for local bees. Habitat loss is an increasingly dire problem for many bees and other pollinators, whose ancestral wildflower meadows are increasingly replaced by human development.

Yet because grassy lawns are so widespread in many human-altered landscapes — with roughly 40 million acres across the U.S., for example — their collective influence on bee populations could be huge. That's why Lerman and her colleagues decided to investigate the effects of a "lazy lawn mower" approach, as they call it.

For their study, published in the journal Biological Conservation, the researchers recruited 16 homeowners with lawns in Springfield, Massachusetts. They divided the homeowners into three groups, then mowed their lawns at one of three frequencies — every week, every two weeks or every three weeks — for two summers.

Each lawn received five scientific surveys per season, starting with a property-wide count of "yard flowers" (ornamentals unaffected by mowing) and "lawn flowers" (plants like clover and dandelion growing within the grass). The researchers also recorded average grass height for each lawn, as well as bee abundance and biodiversity, to see how the insects responded to different mowing rates...

Read the full article here.

Show us your STAGHORN!

In honor of our 250-pound epiphytic addition, we are dubbing this summer the "Summer of Staghorn!" We want to see YOUR unique photos of this award-winning fern that is now at its permanent home, suspended on the west side of the Perennial Garden under the shade of the Cryptomeria. Send your photos to Marketing Coordinator Roxanne Perkins at and they will be featured on our website. Thank you again to John and Monique Ziesenhenne for donating this magnificent specimen!

Photo by MCBG Volunteer Sheila Klopper

YARD SALE of the Year

The "greatest yard sale on the coast" returns on Saturday, July 7th for its 16th year! In 2017 Friends of the Gardens (FOG) raised over $15,500 at their annual Pack Rat Sale and this year they are aiming to top it! All of the proceeds (yes 100%!) raised at the sale benefit the Gardens and enhance the visitor experience. Early arrivals have the best selection of items and those arriving later benefit from price reductions throughout the day.

Doing a little spring/early summer cleaning? FOG wants your garden supplies, household items, antiques, collectibles, tools, etc! Friends of the Gardens will be accepting donations at the Gardens from 9AM-4PM July 2nd - 6th (excluding July 4th). No early birds! Donations will not be accepted at the Gardens prior to July 2nd unless you arrange for an earlier delivery and assistance by calling the Pack Rat Sale message line at 707-964-4352 ext 17. No books or clothing donations, please!

To volunteer to price and sort items the week of July 2nd or assist at the sale on July 7th, please email Kittie Meredith at


Are you ever walking the dog, hiking, birdwatching, combing the beach, volunteering at MCBG or working in your own garden and stop to ponder... hey what is that?

Consider downloading the iNaturalist mobile app to help you record sightings and identify what plant, bug, animal, or bird you have observed. iNaturalist is an incredibly easy way to get your questions answered -- sometimes instantaneously! All you have to do is take a clear photo of the organism in question and upload it to the app.
No service? No problem! You can upload the photo on the spot or when you are connected to WiFi. Keep an eye out for upcoming events celebrating our citizen scientists...

More about the project
iNaturalist is a citizen science project and online social network of naturalists, nature enthusiasts, and biologists built on the concept of mapping and sharing observations of biodiversity across the globe. Every observation can contribute to biodiversity science, from the rarest butterfly to the most common backyard weed... and all you have to do is observe!

Learn & Grow

Upcoming Workshops & Events

Sprouts Workshop
JUNE 9 | 10:00am to 12:00pm, Ages 8-10
This 1-day, 2-hour workshop is a great introduction to gardening for your young ones with a green thumb. Kids will learn about backyard ecosystems and learn to make helpful garden observations. We will work and play while planting, nurturing, and harvesting in the organic demonstration vegetable garden at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Children ages 8 to 10 of any level of gardening experience are welcome to attend. LEARN MORE!

Nature Sketchbook Workshop
AUG 12 | 10:00am to 3:00PM
Instructor: Pam Lure, artist and instructor for nearly 20 years, licensed product artist at Target, Crate & Barrel, and more

What better way to learn to draw the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens' surroundings than under the guidance of a professional artist who specializes in natural-based designs? Begin class with a nature walk alongside a horticultural staff member of the Gardens who will help sharpen your observational skills as you explore the flora and fauna of the Gardens. At the same time, with Pam's expert guidance, participants will learn to observe and draw in new ways while expanding their understanding of the natural world. LEARN MORE!

More summertime learning opportunities to be announced...

To sign up for a workshop, contact The Garden Store at 707-964-4352 x16.
Please note: workshop fees are non-refundable.

SAVE the dates!

Pack Rat Sale :: Saturday, July 7th, 8AM-4PM

Art in the Gardens :: Saturday, August 4th, 11AM-5PM

Pumpkin Night :: Saturday, October 27th, 5:30-7:30PM

Festival of Lights :: Friday-Sunday, November 23rd-December 16th 5:00-7:30PM



Featured Volunteer Opportunities

Rhody's Cafe
Rhody's Café  is looking for cafe help Sundays from 1PM-3:30PM. Duties include washing dishes and helping clear off tables during our busiest time of the day. Work with a fun group and enjoy a 20% discount on homemade soups, delicious sandwiches and crisp salads during your shift. This opportunity is great for those with a passion for fresh, healthy cuisine. Volunteers must be able to stand for most of the shift. Please contact Cafe Manager Marie Head at

Woodland Garden Work and Learn
Join Gardener Mishele Stettenbenz each Thursday from 9AM to 12PM for weeding, planting, and pruning in the shady and serene Woodland Garden. Listen to the meditative croaking of frogs and buzzing of hummingbirds as you learn about a wide range of interesting shade and moisture-loving plants: deciduous trees and shrubs, ferns, magnolias, maples, azaleas, rhododendrons, carnivorous plants, California native plants, and fuchsias. To get started contact Volunteer Coordinator Molly Rosenthal at

Wildcard Volunteer Days
Every Tuesday and Wednesday from 9:30AM-12:30PM tend to a variety of the Gardens’ perennials and most prized collections: heath & heathers, Heritage Roses, begonias, rhododendrons, dahlias and more. Work alongside our team of knowledgeable gardeners and friendly volunteers as you weed, prune, deadhead, identify emerging plants and wildlife, and gain inspiration for your own garden! No experience needed to join us – just the eagerness to work, learn, and watch the Gardens shift and change with the seasons. To get started contact Volunteer Coordinator Molly Rosenthal at

ONGOING Volunteer Opportunities


Daily ::The Garden Store, Nursery

Monday :: Vegetable Garden
Tuesday & Wednesday :: Entrance Garden and collections care
Thursday :: Woodland Garden

Friday :: Vegetable Garden

Variable :: Docents, bulk mailings, construction projects, events

Visit our website for more details on the current volunteer opportunities.


Shining a light on greatness


Volunteer Since: 2008
Volunteer Hours: 192+

If you dine at Rhody's Garden Café, you've noticed a pop of color on your tables. Each week, volunteer Sharon Meyer constructs beautiful centerpieces to brighten up the dining area, checking and refreshing each piece twice a week. This is her second year arranging flowers for the cafe, although not her first volunteer job at MCBG.

She began volunteering in the Vegetable Garden in 2008 under then Lead Gardener Tom Tillotson. 
After retiring as an Account Specialist for the District Attorney, the Ukiah-native moved to Fort Bragg. Having always been an avid gardener, was eager to learn about coastal gardening in particular seaside veggie gardening. After a few years she moved on to volunteering in propagation where then Gardener Mario Abreu taught her how to build a hoop house of her own.

Eventually she moved on to The Garden Store where she became acquainted with Café Manager Marie Head, who also helps out in the store.

“I asked Marie if I could make centerpieces for her café,” said Sharon. “The next year she called me to ask if I was going to do it again!”

Sharon has training in floral design, so Marie was never worried about her eye for color, form and texture. In the beginning Sharon promised to keep the arrangements tiny, but slowly they grew bigger as it became obvious she possessed a great talent and that the colorful flora greatly enhanced the ambiance of the café.

“As far as I’m concerned, she has transformed the café,” said Marie. “She quietly comes in here to replace the arrangements without bothering anyone. I just look up and I have new flowers!”

Sharon spends 30 minutes creating each arrangement. Her favorite materials to use? Doug fir, huckleberry, nasturtiums and passion vine. She sources some of the materials from her 1-acre garden, but most come from the Gardens.

The seasonal schedule of Rhody’s Café works for her. While the cafe is closed for the winter, Sharon spends time at her Palm Springs home. During the summers when she is not volunteering here, she’s walking her two Maltese pups, tending to her own garden and spending time with her three grandchildren and two sons, one of which just purchased land on the coast.

Our "Volunteer Spotlight" segment will feature a dedicated or new volunteer each quarterly newsletter. We hope to get around to all of you!

Copyright © 2022 Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list