In the course of an all too brief road trip I spent a day at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden which is bordered on the west by coastal bluffs overlooking the Pacific . The spectacular beauty of the coastline in Mendocino County itself is a feature of this garden, as the trails that meander through the forests and meadows of the garden terminate at the sea. The garden is is USDA zone 9b, the same zone as mine; an indicator of the limited usefulness of the USDA zones here on the micro-climate laden west coast. Sunset (the go-to zone guide for gardeners in the west) classifies this area as zone 17 , mild wet and frostless winters with summer fog and lack of heat. Growing a tomato in Mendocino is an exercise in futility, Fuchsias can sit out in the sun all day long, and frost is rare. The perennial gardens here are planted with tough customers that can withstand winds, pounding rain, fog and salt air. They grow some dandy Kniphofias out here on the coast.