To weeks ago, Mr. Mouse and I went to Mendocino for the weekend. The Friday drive was congested and tedious, but we did arrive in time for a delicious dinner at the Raven, a vegetarian restaurant not far from where we stayed. The next morning,  after a 3-course breakfast, we decided on several short hikes that promised to highlight different aspects of this beautiful coastal area.

The first hike was in Van Damme State Park, where we first hiked the bog trail and then the fern canyon trail. The bog trail lived up to its name and was muddy, with quite a few mosquitos. The fern canyon trail also lived up to its name.

I'm quite sure I saw at least 3 different ferns, probably more. Because there is much more rainfall up in Mendocino, the vegetation was very lush and green, a welcome sight after the browning hills back home.

Sizable horsetail plants dominated the landscape part of the way. I think it's Equisetum telmateia, giant horsetail, but I could be quite wrong.

A special surprise was this elderberry growing in a more open area of the canyon.

Regular readers of this blog might remember that Country Mouse is questioning whether her elderberry is Sambuccus mexicana (blue elderberry) or Sambuccus racemosa (red elderberry). The plant seemed to say red, but Jepson has the red elderberry at higher elevations. Well, this elderberry not only does not have the flat fruit stand of the blue elderberry, it even has a red fruit stand stem. And while that area wasn't totally wild, I did not see other garden plants there, so I expect it's indigenous. Which means that Ms. Country Mouse might have a red elderberry after all.

After a few hours walk, we had a healthy lunch with a significant anti-oxidant component (chocolate). While we were sitting on a redwood stump, a yellow warbler came very close and looked at us curiously. Of course it left just as I whipped out my camera, but we were delighted nonetheless and ready for the second part of our adventure, the coast.

While we did not walk the Pygmy Forest Trail in Van Damme State Park, we did see some interesting stunted trees on our way to the ocean, like the tree/bush above. Then, as we were approaching more open country, the wildflowers began. It was very exciting. Where I live, much further south, wildflower season is almost over (a few farewell-to-spring still brighten the paths). Up there, wildflower season was still in full swing.

Here some coastal poppies (yellow with orange center) and sea thrift (Armeria maritima). The poppies were beautiful. Very short stems and large blossoms.

They were intermingled with lupine in some areas.

And in other areas poppies and some other flowers formed golden carpets, beautiful against the wild ocean. It's often foggy during Mendocino summers (winters are clearer, unless it rains). I wondered whether the many yellow plants were almost like foglights, penetrating the mist, making themselves visible to the insects.

Forming a golden carpet.

It was hard to turn around. So many undiscovered wildflowers were beckoning, and the ocean and the tidepools were waiting as well. But we were getting a little tired, and wanted a shower before dinner. So we returned to our bed and breakfast, the Glendevan Inn. We had a cup of tea (and a few cookies) looking out onto the garden and rested for a bit.

Then we had a special treat. The inn offers dinner prepared by two chefs twice a week, and we had signed up. It was quite possibly the best vegetarian food I'd ever had, and I could not believe the attention to detail and inventive combination of ingredients. Mr. Mouse, a carnivore, also commented favorably on his meal. The chefs, Brian and Shennen Morris, also own a catering business and teach classes, and I'm truly sorry I live so far away.

The next morning, we said our final good-byes to the resident lamas and were on our way back south, where my garden was thirstily waiting for me.


The first photo of the poppies and sea thrift against the sea cliffs is really stunning. Much better than I could ever manage with my ancient point and shoot. I am jealous of the green as well. Ferns always make things seem primeval; the horsetail only adds to it.
Country Mouse said…
What a wonderful account of your adventure in Mendocino! I enjoyed your word pictures as much as the wonderful photos - thanks for sharing it all. I am btw pretty sure we have blue and not red elderberry around here. I thought it was interesting that someone on the GWN forum was allowed to plant one as a street tree. I'll be interested to know how it goes.
ryan said…
Nice wildflower photos. I really like the armeria with the poppies. That seems like a plant combo worth trying.
So glad you had a chance to buzz up to Mendocino. It's a special place for us for a number of reasons...including that it's where we got married. I still feel bad about making the wedding party do that drive...but...oh well!

I love your photos! What I love about Coastal California Poppies, is that being both yellow AND orange, it's gardener's choice to go yellow-with-blue vs. orange-with-purple! You can have it both ways...which is great for those of us that are indecisive!
What stunning horsetails! They're high on my list of favorite overenthusiastic plants that I wouldn't ever let loose in the garden, but it's great you had a chance to view them in the wilds.

I'll have to review something I heard about elerberries, something that seemed to be saying that the Mexican elderberry is actually genetically almost-identical to another more northern species. But Calflora is now calling it Sambucus nigra ssp. cerulea, still a blue, so that's probably not much help here...
All of a sudden I got very homesick for the Northern California coast. Sigh. Must go out into my hot humid Ozarks garden now.

Thanks for the breath of salty fog laden air. We're sweltering here. It was so refreshing.