Dunsmuir Picnic Area

Dunsmuir Park and Botanical Garden

Sitting in the shadows of Mount Shasta in Northern California lies a small but charming botanical garden. It is truly a labor of love for the community. Dunsmuir Botanical Garden in just off of Highway 5 and sits on an interesting geological divide where the Klamath mountains meet the Cascades. The garden is nestled in a canyon formed by the upper reaches of the Sacramento River at an elevation of 2400 feet.

Dunsmuir Botanical Garden Entrance
Dunsmuir Botanical Garden Entrance

It is a mix of park, recreational space and botanical garden, where they are blend nicely in a whole. Plants of interest are well labeled and someone has clearly thought about plant placement rather than randomly placing them.

A Shady Glen

The tree canopy is a mix of Canyon Live Oak (Quercus chrysolepsis) and Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens). It densely under-planted with Rhododendrons, Hydrangea, Spirea and other shrubs. Finally, a ground cover of Hosta, Bletilla, a variety of ferns and so much more.

Dunsmuir - Layered Planting
Dunsmuir – Layered Planting

Beside the picnic area, a quite magnificent collection of Japanese Maples provides dappled shade that moves nicely in the breezes.

Dunsmuir Maples
Dunsmuir Maples
Dunsmuir Picnic Area
Dunsmuir Picnic Area

Other areas of the garden concentrate on natives, particularly plants that will grow in what is quite an extreme environment. Once such area has rather unique metal fences to keep people out of what are quite delicate plantings in a rock/scree garden.

Dunsmuir Rock Garden
Dunsmuir Rock Garden

For the railway enthusiasts, an old Class M-6 Mogul locomotive sits at the entrance to the park. It was built in 1903 and continued in service until 1956. The rail line of the Southern Pacific runs along the far side of the river.

Dunsmuir Locomotive
Dunsmuir Locomotive

General Thoughts

We arrived mid morning, when temperatures were in the 80s and later that day the temperatures soared. This garden must be a very welcome place for locals to come and eat their lunch under the shade of the cooling trees. It is also a place that more people should stop as they race through to their final destinations. So, if you are traveling down I5 and in need of a rest stop, go past all the ones on the highway and  come off at Dunsmuir. What awaits you will give you some total rest and don’t forget to drop them a buck or two to help them maintain it. And while you are there, pick up an idea or two for that shady spot in your garden.

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