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Gardening in Fort Bragg, California


Rosalie Stanley began building her garden when she and partner, J.P. Mohn, started building their house. The property was a construction a lot. This long-time gardener didn’t stop collecting plants and her gardening customers and friends didn’t stop giving.

Even while Rosalie built part of the house with her own hands, she plotted her garden and created beds around the edges. When the house was done, she plunged into building two pools and beds around the house. Her artistry and carpentry skills are well put to use in her gardens.

“What I really love is while I was gardening, so many old gardeners now dead gave me plants left and right. So now when I’m watering I have so many memories. I can’t go 10 feet without thinking about those people.”

These days watering is tough for Rosalie who lives in Fort Bragg, California. With the ongoing drought she hand waters young rhododendrons and azaleas and occasionally the older ones. Overall, the plants are doing well. “We’ve had this kind of drought before,” she says of the late 1970s.

Judy and Bob Mathey built their home among the coast redwoods just south of Fort Bragg. Their garden is a showcase for collections of conifers and rhododendrons with over 300 specimens each. Bob’s rusted railroad artifacts are scattered throughout and serve as garden art.

The Matheys treasure their garden, known as The Gardens at Harmony Woods, and they enjoy sharing it on the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program. All plants are researched, cataloged and labeled; education is part of their gardening effort.

The Gardens at Harmony Woods has been accepted into the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Gardens.

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