Ginny Carroll

Ginny Carroll

A flower child’s springtime adventure

If it’s true that flowers are nature’s laughter, she finally started laughing last week. Before that she was merely giggling.

I’m a flower person and I’ve been expecting a bonanza of blooms ever since February, but flowers are good weather forecasters. They prefer to stay tight in the bud while it’s raining, and wait for the sunshine to open. With all the wet, wet, wet weather we had in the early spring, what’s a flower to do? Surely, I thought, some must be blooming in spite of themselves. So I went hunting.

A friend and I went to see the Mendocino Wildflower Show at the fairgrounds in Boonville a couple of weekends ago. We headed out Highway 128, enjoying the velvety greenness of the hills and meadows we passed, and finding to our delight that there were quite a few patches of wildflowers in those meadows. We got nearly to Boonville when we were struck by a BFO (that’s “blinding flash of the obvious”): April. Rhododendron season. Mendocino Botanical Gardens at Fort Bragg. Let’s do it.

So we sailed right on past the fairgrounds to the coast. As we rode along through neat farms and meadows of flowers, pristine vineyards and wineries, redwood forests and huge old oaks, a feeling of deep and intense gratitude crept over us. We often express to one another how grateful we are to be living in such a beautiful place, but when we say that, we’re mostly looking around us at our community of Cloverdale and its immediate environs. When we expand our perspective just a little – as between here and the Pacific Ocean – if we’re paying attention, we can feel our hearts swell with love, overflowing with gratitude that this is our home. It is an amazing experience and reminds us of just how beautiful our planet is. Whether its current deterioration is our fault or not, we must do whatever we can to heal it. How can we not?

We reached the Coast Highway and turned north. Soon grumbling tummies suggested we stop for brunch. Heeding the tummy call, we went into the picturesque village of Mendocino and chose the water tower restaurant, more for its view than its food. The food is fine, but the view is amazing. The day was clear and crisp, the air crystal clear. From our window table we looked over the Mendocino Headlands to a dark blue ocean and cerulean sky. (I don’t know what “cerulean” is, but I always wanted to use the word.)

Are we having fun yet? You bet. We left Mendocino continued north with that fabulous view beside us until we reached the botanical gardens. There I found my bonanza of blooms: towering trees of deep red blossoms the size of dinner plates, enormous bushes of translucent cream and gold, gorgeously scented clusters of blooming white trumpets … enough flowers to knock your socks off. My socks were duly knocked.

If you’re not familiar with the Mendocino Botanical Gardens, Google it; it’s quite a place: about 30 acres of one garden after another. Paved trails lined with rhododendrons, azaleas and hundreds of other flowering plants (even wild flowers) wend their way from garden to garden – leading finally to a vast ocean bluff with magnificent vistas and a glassed-in “Cliff House” lookout point to enjoy the view protected from the wind. It took us at least an hour to reach to bluffs, what with stopping to admire something every few feet.

A great bonus for many of us seniors is that the garden has mobility scooters for rent at $10 for as long as you want them. Those of us who don’t do distance walking can ride.

A wonderful day out for flower children and other seniors. I highly recommend it.

Do you have an idea for this column? Questions? Comments? Contact Ginny Carroll at

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