Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens : Volunteer Newsletter
Summer 2016
View this email in your browser
Pictured above: Eucomis comosa 'Sparkling Burgundy' on the southwest end of the Perennial Garden


Summer 2016

Happy Summer!

With the help of our volunteers, I'm pleased to announce that our very own Lynelle Johnson has won the Charlie and Lynn Bell Award for volunteer of the year! She has been recognized for her service to the community and her ability to assemble the resources necessary to act as a catalyst for positive change. We are so proud of her and know she is very much deserving of this award. Thank you to all the volunteers who nominated her and who wrote such wonderful descriptions of Lynelle's goodwill and virtues. And of course, thank you for all YOU do for the Gardens.

Kind Regards,

Molly Rosenthal
Administrative Assistant/Volunteer Coordinator


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

ADOPT a walking buddy

MCHS mobile adoption van 

Have you noticed more furry friends strutting about the Gardens in colorful leis and bandanas lately? That may be due to the frequent visits from the Mendocino Coast Humane Society (MCHS). If you missed them the last few months, not to worry! The MCHS Mobile Adoption Van will be returning to the Gardens Saturdays July 16, August 20 and September 17, from 11:00am to 3:00pm. Stop by and pet some puppies and kitties…and maybe adopt one, too!

Follow MCHS on Facebook! 

ONE MAN'S JUNK, another man's treasure...

Another successful Pack Rat Sale!

 A drizzly and grey July morning on the coast didn't discourage the rummagers from attending last week's Pack Rat Sale. Friends of the Gardens brought in over $16,600 selling used goods and antiques donated by the Mendocino Coast community. That's  $2,000 more than last year! FOG also pulled a Professional Kitchen Aide mixer, a food scale and some measuring cups from the lot of treasures to donate to Rhody's Cafe. Thank you FOG!

SUMMER workshops

Learn and grow

Class sizes are limited; sign up for any and all of the workshops by phoning in your payment at 707-964-4352 ext. 16 or reserve your spot in person at The Garden Store.
Summertime Fruit Tree Pruning
from 10:00am to 12:00pm
Gardens Meeting Room
with coastal orchard expert Di Scott

Summer pruning is a great way to increase your fruit and ease winter maintenance. This class will help you to optimize performance from your fruit trees, according to your own needs and the specific environment in which the trees are growing.

Wonderful World of Succulents
from 10:00am to 12:00pm
Gardens Meeting Room
with Rella Gadulka

Join local specialty nursery owner, Rella Gadulka, for a hands-on workshop and overview of these delightful plants, including their growth habits and care. Discover successful techniques for potting, propagating, and companion planting.

Growing and Using Medicinal Herbs
from 10:00am to 12:00pm
Gardens Meeting Room with Karin Uphoff

Learn to better your garden, body, and mind... Join local herbalist and author, Karin Uphoff, for this fantastic workshop! Discover how to grow strong medicine, when and how to harvest different parts of the plant, process herbs so their medicine keeps, and how to incorporate herbs into your life.

PROGRESS and updates

Festival of Lights 2016

Sponsorship requests to local businesses, wineries and restaurants have officially been sent off. To our pleasure, we’ve already received some sponsorships and pledges of support! If any of our volunteers have a personal relationship with a local business or potential donor, we invite you to ask this friend if he/she would help sponsor this wonderful community event. In the administration office, we have festive information packets that lay out all the benefits of becoming an FOL sponsor. Please come by and pick one up if you have anyone in mind! 

Save the Dates!

Festival of Lights 2016 :: Friday–Sunday, November 25th-December 18th
Gala 2016 :: Wednesday, November 30th

WELCOME new volunteers

So glad to have you!

Christina Martin :: Vegetable Garden

Kristin Cooper :: Plant Records

Susan Munson :: Propagation House

Carol Kropp :: The Garden Store

Cydney Loggins :: The Garden Store

Lynn Walker :: Woodland Garden

Carlos Hernandez :: Dahlia Garden, Vegetable Garden, Entry Garden

Anna Lai :: Vegetable Garden, Perennial Garden

Aurora Shattuck :: Rhody's Garden Café, Admin


Installation of the Cliff House

WELL hello there!

New faces and new positions

THIS WEEK we welcomed our new Executive Director, Molly Barker. Molly boasts 25-years of experience working with public gardens. We know she will be a great addition to the team. You most likely will see her about the Gardens, but feel free to stop by admin and introduce yourself!

NEXT WEEK, Gardener Jaime Jensen takes on a new role as Lead Gardener. For the past two years, her focus has largely been on expanding and beautifying the Vegetable Garden (which you may have heard, yielded over 7,000 lbs of fresh organic produce donated to the Fort Bragg Food Bank last year alone). She
begins her new position on Monday, July 18. Be sure to congratulate Jaime the next time you see her!

FALL Plant & Store Sale

Save the date!

MEMBERS ONLY Preview Night
Friday, September 16  |  5:30 to 7:30pm

Nursery on the Plaza and The Garden Store will once again host the ever-popular sale in just a couple months... September 17th—25th. Please contact Molly at 707-964-4352 ext.10 to sign up for available volunteer positions.



Special Events and Happenings

Fuchsia Caretaker
The Fuschia Gall Mite has ravaged many fuchsia species on the coast in recent years. We are in search of a dedicated volunteer to care for our prized Fuchsia Collection, keeping them vibrant and healthy for years to come. As a Fuchsia Caretaker, you will be working in the Mae E. Lauer Display House among a variety of brilliant hanging begonias and of course fuchsia standards of mixed purple, lavender, crimson, pink, fuchsia and white. If you have a passion for these delicate, ornamental shrubs or an interest in learning about them, please contact to get started!

Woodland Garden Work & Learn
We are looking for help on Wednesday mornings from 9:00am to 12:00pm in the Woodland Garden, a shady haven where frogs frolic in the wetlands and interesting plants peak through the ferns. As a Woodland Garden volunteer, you will work among fuchsias, rhododendrons, magnolias, maples, and wetland plants learning about each collection and how to care for them in your own back yard. Volunteer work includes pruning, planting, deadheading, weeding, and plant recording. Flexible hours available! To join Karen, please email her at

Rhody's Garden Café Helper
Help out at at the Café while learning some delicious tricks of the trade from Marie, our culinary genius of a Café Manager. Work with a fun crew, make drinks and serve nutritious and organic meals! This opportunity is great for those with a passion for food. Volunteers must be able to stand for most of the shift. Please contact Marie at

Adopt-a-Bed in the Perennial Garden
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens invites committed volunteers to adopt a bed in the Perennial Garden for the duration of the 2016 growing season (May-October). This is an excellent opportunity to get fresh air and exercise and learn about the abundant variety of perennial plants at the Gardens. Interested volunteers will be expected to commit to three hours per week of guided volunteer time -- Thursdays 9:30am to 12:30pm. If you are interested please contact Jaime at

Flyering Friends
Are you a social butterfly? We are always in need of volunteers to help distribute workshop flyers and event posters. Quite possibly the easiest task a volunteer can do to support the Gardens, flyering is a  leisurely way to promote the Gardens at your own pace. Some of our dedicated flyering volunteers helped raise admissions on the annual Rhody Show/Mother’s Day weekend nearly 30% from last year! We have also gained a couple new volunteers who said that our volunteer posters around town prompted them to pick up the phone and get involved. Give Molly a call at 707-964-4352 ext. 10 if you would like to be added to the list of helpers for this laid-back volunteer opportunity. We will even send you off with a care package of tacks and tape when you come to pick up the flyers!

Fall Plant & Store Sale - Tag Pickers Needed Sept 16-18 & 24-25
During our semi-annual plant and store sale, we expect a large spike in shoppers at the Nursery on the Plaza and The Garden Store. In order to help control traffic flow, we are in search of some available volunteers to be tag pickers. Tag pickers are vital in eliminating wait times for our guests paying for plants. We still have a couple months before the sale but September will be here in no time... call Molly at 707-964-4352 ext. 10 for more information.

ONGOING Volunteer Opportunities


Pictured above: Strelitzia reginae 'Bird of Paradise' hiding on the edge of the Dahlia Garden
Daily :: Entry Garden, The Garden Store, Nursery on the Plaza, and propagation helpers

Monday :: Vegetable Garden, Perennial Garden
Tuesday :: Begonia care, Heritage Rose Garden, heath and heather care, dahlia care
Wednesday :: Woodland Garden, restoration/reforestation, Native Plant Garden, dahlia care
Thursday :: Dahlia Garden, Perennial Garden

Friday :: Vegetable Garden, Rhody's Garden Café

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


Visit our website for more detail on the various volunteer opportunities.


Shining a light on greatness

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


Volunteer Since: 2010
Volunteer Hours: 1,731+

On any given Monday or Friday morning, you can find volunteer Nancy Housel in the MCBG Vegetable Garden, harvesting and cleaning aromatic onions, vibrant beets, crisp lettuce, and succulent peas. Promptly at 10:45AM, she loads her truck with bins of fresh, organic foods and is off to the Fort Bragg Food Bank where a community in need is patiently awaiting her smiling face and truckload of goodies. The clients love the produce she delivers so much that they are often disappointed if she’s late.

Nancy grew up in the North East and eventually moved to El Dorado County, CA where she practiced medicine and raised three kids with her husband, Ben Housel. In 2002, she and her husband bought property on the Mendocino Coast with the goal to move here after retirement. When Nancy retired from her career as a critical care and clinical forensics doctor, they moved onto their Fort Bragg land full time and camped out until their house was finished.

She began volunteering for the Gardens in 2010 and has been a Master Gardener since 2012. After the Gardens raised funds to expand the breadth of the Vegetable Garden three years ago, Nancy, along with then lead gardener Tom Tillotson and then gardener Jill Szczygiel, helped spearhead the alliance between MCBG and the Fort Bragg Food Bank. Nancy remains one of the most dedicated harvesters in the Vegetable Garden, showing up twice a week alongside volunteers Michael Cherry, Sharon Gieras, Linda Lawley, and of course MCBG Gardener (and soon to be Lead Gardener) Jaime Jensen. She is also a member of Gardener/Naturalist Mario Abreu’s “Motley Crew” and has adopted three beds in the Perennial Garden.

Having served three years as chair of the MCBG Education Committee and as a member of the Board of Directors from 2013-2015, she realizes she is truly the happiest when playing in the dirt. With a huge vegetable garden at home, two grandchildren, a couple of grand-cats and dogs, and as an avid contributor to other local and national non-profits, it’s a wonder she finds time for the Gardens!

“The Gardens is a huge community asset worth supporting. I’ve made a lot of friends here and it’s a beautiful place to spend your day,” beams Nancy. “Plus, I just love feeding people.”

5th Annual Sidewalk
Garden Contest

“Pull a Weed, Plant a Flower”

Nancy shares her love of plants with the whole neighborhood, winning 3rd place from Fort Bragg Garden Club for her sidewalk garden at Project Sanctuary.
Photo by Nancy Housel (published in Fort Bragg Advocate)

Helper Highlights

  •  FOG members Buck Clark and Steve Zlatunich  picked up a new dump trailer for the Gardens!
  • Donna Worster and Sheila Klopper have become MCBG's newest docents, escorting groups of all ages throughout our 47-acre gem by the sea! Jeff Pugh and Linda Lawley have been shadowing tours and are well on their way to becoming MCBG's next docents!
  • Kianna and Sharon Zielesch stepped up as our newest flyering volunteers!


HELPFUL HIPPIES lend a hand at the Gardens

Written by MCBG Volunteer Coordinator, Molly Rosenthal

On a warm sunny morning in Fort Bragg, a colorful school bus pulls into the parking lot of the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Out pours a group of six vibrant young people sporting colorful pants, beanies and smiles. After a quick coffee and pastry detour, they head out to the coastal headlands to meet Staff Gardener and Naturalist, Mario Abreu. The group was set to tackle the bi-annual removal of invasive Lampranthus spectabilis ‘Ice Plant’ from the native grasslands on the coastal bluffs. Perched high above the crashing waves—with tools and buckets in hand—the group crouches along the cliff and gets to work.

They call themselves The Vagabus Project, a traveling clan of adventurous folk, hitch hikers and self-proclaimed hippies that volunteer their time for a good cause in each of the communities they visit. The project was started last fall by Steven Boutwell, also known  by his road name “Huck,” and has since garnered members from all over the world. Their past projects range from feeding the homeless, assisting at animal sanctuaries, gardening and trash cleanup. The Vagabus convoy has grown from four people and one bus in February to now eleven people, two buses, an RV, a motorcycle and five dogs.

Boutwell connected with the Gardens at a time when the organization is in great need of volunteers as summer is peak season for tourism. Currently, the non-profit has over 200 volunteers on its roster, with nearly 50 wonderful and dedicated people showing up on a monthly or weekly basis. The need for reliable, hands-on hard work is ongoing. Volunteers are a precious resource helping to maintain and improve this regional treasure. 

“We have a truly remarkable cadre of volunteers who help us on a regular basis, but we are always in need of more help,” said Gardens’ Board Vice President, Ben Nicholson. “We try to make the volunteer experience a fun and interesting learning opportunity. We invite all who are willing to share their talents to contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Molly Rosenthal.”

Vagabus Project Coordinator Boutwell, exclaimed volunteering at the Gardens was "by far one of the best gigs we’ve ever, ever had, hands down."

He elaborated that most of the time when they volunteer for garden work or environmental restoration, people usually just hand them some gloves, leave them with a bucket, and that's about it.

“Working with Mario [Abreu] was the equivalent of working with a PhD Botanist; very educational, very informative, and extremely great at coordinating the group on exactly what work was needed, and why such work was important for the local ecosystem,” said Boutwell.

In the near future The Vagabus Project has their sights set on South and Central America, volunteering for non-profits and eco-projects along the way. First, the group plans to head north to Garberville to volunteer at the 40th Annual Summer Arts and Music Festival. The end goal is Argentina—the southern-most point of the Western Hemisphere that they can reach by bus.

PRINTED IN: Ukiah Daily Journal, Fort Bragg Advocate (published June 14 and June 19)

Follow The Vagabus Project on their journeys... CLICK HERE

F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K
V I S I T our W E B S I T E
Copyright © 2016 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