Mendocino County

A Pacific-Close Garden Takes Its Holiday Lights Online

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is asking fans of its festive display to share photos from past years for the enjoyment of all.

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DO YOU LOVE BLOSSOMS AND BRINY AIR? It's a powerful pairing, though finding this stellar duo in the same place can sometimes prove difficult. So often large botanical gardens, those places that pop with pretty petals, exquisite shrubs, and picturesque trees, sit inland, while brinier breezes tend to be found in the general vicinity of the ocean. But there is a sublime spot that boasts both, as well as a memorable and merry lighting display come the end of the year. It's Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg, and its billing is utterly beguiling: "47 acres of botanical bliss fronting the Pacific Ocean." But the holiday dazzle seen around the property over the past several Decembers? It's on hold for 2020, due to the pandemic response.

HERE, though, is something as joyful as gingerbread and as comforting as cocoa: The spirit of the Festival of Lights will live on virtually in 2020. "In lieu of the traditional festival, we plan to bring the magic of FOL into your living room! With your help, we plan to create a slideshow of the lights and cheer from the past ten years," is the call to action on the site. If you have some salty-air'd snaps or videos, perhaps of you and Santa smiling, or you and your family pausing for a quick picture by an especially fetching flower, there's a submission form on this page. Other fans of this nature-meets-the-holidays happening will get to enjoy your photo, and you'll be able to see what others have shared.

AND, IF YOU'VE NEVER BEEN? The festive photographs submitted by garden regulars may inspire you to swing by the spacious destination down the road. Call it a magical slice of Mendocino County, just when we're needing it, and a look back/forward at a place that is loved by both locals and visitors who make the journey each year. As for when it will return as an in-person happening? "November 2021" is the hope-filled date on the site.

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