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Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens was founded in 1961 by retired nurseryman Ernest Schoefer and his wife, Betty. Ernest's keen eye spotted the ample supply of water augmented by the mild coastal climate and quality soil essential to acid-loving plants like Rhododendrons. The Grand Opening of the Gardens was in 1966. By 1992, the Gardens had been purchased with grants from the California Coastal Conservancy and transferred to the Mendocino Coast Recreation and Park District (MCRPD).