Customers enter Digging Dog Nursery through an archway trimmed through a 10-foot high beech hedge. Pots are arranged in orderly rows across an open rectangular sales area bounded on all sides by the clipped-beech walls. On each side of this enclosure, smaller arches lead to private garden rooms lush with layered plantings. Focal points of distinctive planters entice wanderers to explore intriguing lavender-lined grass and gravel pathways shaded by yews, maples and clipped hornbeam columns.
Owned by the husband and wife team of horticulturist Deborah Whigham and landscape designer Gary Ratway, the nursery and demonstration gardens are hidden in 14-acres of redwood forest at 31101 Middle Ridge Road, Albion, a few miles off Highway One south of Mendocino, California. The enterprise began to propagate planting material for Ratway’s projects that have included the dazzling lavender meadows of Matanzas Winery in Bennett Valley, Santa Rosa. Today it is a popular mail-order supplier of perennials, shrubs, trees and vines from around the world that thrive in the cool coastal climate.
Champion vole hunter Kiva, the inspiration for the nursery’s name, has been superseded by a new welcoming committee that includes Sophia the cat. Much to the consternation of a band of raucous Stellar Jays, Sophia led us on tour through the maze of secret garden rooms and mysterious pathways beyond the high beech hedges. Customers are encouraged to visit and sip lemonade in the beautiful gardens on alternate Saturday “Stroll and Chat” events and plant sales. See website for dates.
Where to Stay?
Based around an 1877 New England-style farmhouse, The Heritage House Resort is being restored to its role as the jewel of coastal hostelries after an absence of several years. Drought-tolerant flowering plants and shrubs clustered around the dwelling units merge into 37 acres of natural meadows and groves of cypress and eucalyptus along the rugged ocean-front setting. The Heritage House is located on Highway One at Little River, about 6 miles from Digging Dog.
California Gardens Mobile App
California Gardens is a mobile travel app, free from iTunes, that describes over 250 gardens from San Diego to Humboldt County that are open to the public on a scheduled or occasional basis. It includes arboretums, botanical gardens, public parks, college campuses, hotels, nurseries, wineries, and private estates that showcase the extraordinary variety of plants that thrive across the diverse climate regions of the Golden State. Download California Gardens from the Apple iTunes App Store (free) or Google play for Android.