It may technically be winter according to the calendar, but spring is just around the bend and the coming o’ the green is already here, as Mother Nature continues to obligingly douse us with seasonal rains.
For local garden clubs planning spring tours and organizers setting up annual flower shows, that means it’s go time. For the rest of us, it’s also “go time”: Go admire, get inspired and, hopefully, get busy in our own yards and on our patios, balconies and windowsills.
San Diego County’s incredible biodiversity supplies the canvas for the gardeners and landscape designers who are busy in settings from Borrego Springs to the coast. Here are several of those upcoming events, in order by date: Some sell out quickly or require advance purchase, so early purchase is advised. Remember to wear comfortable comfortable shoes and bring sunscreen, a hat and water.
Have an event to add to this list? Email to [email protected].
Borrego Desert Garden Tour
If you’re headed to the desert to marvel at the wildflower bloom, the annual Borrego Desert Garden Tour is another must-see. Explore five gardens at your own pace during this primary fundraiser for the nonprofit Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association.
The tour features a midcentury revival house and garden, a mature garden with large desert specimens, a Southwest-feeling casita and garden, a colorful Tortuga-themed haven, and a luxury vacation home. Closed-toe shoes, a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, water and snacks are recommended. No dogs, please.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tickets: $30 general admission, $23 ABDNHA members, $20 ABDNHA volunteers
Info: abdnha.org/gardentour or visit the ABDNHA Desert Nature Center, 652 Palm Canyon Drive, Borrego Springs; (760) 767-3098
Cherry Blossom Festival at Japanese Friendship Garden
Stroll upper and lower gardens at the Japanese Friendship Garden’s annual three-day Cherry Blossom Festival and enjoy serene views and colorful blooms, an annual tradition to welcome spring and celebrate the Japanese custom of hanami, or “flower viewing.” See live entertainment such as dancing, storybox story-telling, a geisha opera singer, kendo and karate demonstrations, taiko drummers and a Japanese lion dance. The event will have a children’s area with games; food vendors and merchants; a Cherry Blossom Cosplay Contest on March 11; and a “Kanpai sake program: Cherry Blossom Edition” for ages 21 and up at the beer and sake garden inside the Inamori Pavilion. Tip: Download the 12-acre garden’s app at niwa.org/app for a map and festival details and plant identification.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., with last admission at 5 p.m. at 2215 Pan American Road E. in Balboa Park
Tickets: Daily $14 general admission, $12 military/student/senior with ID, free for children 6 or younger, $25 VIP or $60 for a three-day VIP bundle
San Diego Horticultural Society Spring Garden Tour
Themed “Gardens by Design: Plants, Places, Perspectives,” the 2023 tour is a self-guided journey along the San Diego coast from Pacific Beach to Solana Beach. The San Diego Horticultural Society has teamed up with the San Diego District of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers to feature the work of highly rated local garden designers. The early-season tour focuses on plant-rich gardens with unique and customized hardscape features. Each garden has its own personal style that makes use of unique site characteristics to maximize spaces for living, relaxing and entertaining. No pets or strollers are allowed in the gardens.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine
Tickets: $35 general admission, $30 members; must purchase online, in advance. Addresses and a map to the gardens will be emailed to registrants several days before the tour.
California Native Garden Tour
From coastal gardens to rolling North County hillsides, this two-day tour presented by the San Diego chapter of the California Native Plant Society aims to inspire by showcasing the region’s native plant landscapes and the people who created them. The ninth annual tour explores the biodiversity of San Diego’s urban green spaces in the spring, with a look at more than 30 private and public gardens and parks, including a native-landscaped HOA park, an elementary school-created habitat trail and a Mediterranean botanical garden with California native plants designed by Nan Sterman, Union-Tribune garden columnist and KPBS-TV host of “A Growing Passion.”
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 1 for gardens in San Marcos and Escondido, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 2 for gardens in Encinitas
Tickets: $35 for the two-day tour, free for ages 17 and under. Tour booklet “ticket” mailed in early March gives access both days.
Coronado Flower Show
Presented by the Coronado Floral Association and the city of Coronado, the two-day Coronado Flower Show is one of the largest tented flower shows in the U.S. and is the city’s longest-running tradition. The 101st annual show, themed “Hollywood in Bloom,” includes landscape displays, floral competitions, educational lectures and demonstrations, live bandstand entertainment, food, a beer and wine garden with locally crafted beers, and shopping. A Home Front Competition in the days before the show recognizes community landscapes, honoring outstanding Coronado gardens, home fronts, schools, churches and store fronts.
Hours: 1 to 5 p.m. April 15, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 16 at Spreckels Park, 601 Orange Ave., Coronado
Tickets: Available at the door for $10 per day, free for children under 12 and for association members
San Diego County Orchid Society International Spring Show and Sale
Themed “Orchids of the Earth,” the annual spring show and sale will fill Room 101 and adjacent patios at the Casa del Prado in Balboa Park. Plant sales will be on the large patio north of Room 101. Vendors include Casa de las Orquideas, El Jardin Tropical, Everything Orchids!, Mundiflora Orchids, Orchid Design, Orchid Source, Rancho del Castillo, Sorella Orchids and Sunset Valley Orchids. Learn about orchid conservation and browse member sales and orchid supplies.
Hours: 3 to 7 p.m. April 21, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 22, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 23 at Casa del Prado Room 101 and adjacent patios in Balboa Park
Tickets: Free admission
Point Loma Garden Walk
The walking tour of home gardens in Point Loma Wooded Area is known as “San Diego’s most beautiful way to support Rady Children’s Hospital,” presented by hospital auxiliary volunteers from the Point Loma/Dana unit. Tour net proceeds benefit the San Diego hospital’s Division of Plastic Surgery Craniofacial Services. The event ties in to an art sale by the Point Loma Artists’ Association and a boutique with local artisans, crafters, clothing, jewelry and food trucks at nearby All Souls’ Episcopal Church.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tickets: $35 each, or $30 each when buying 10 or more. Pick up tickets the day of the event at 605 Gage Drive. in Point Loma or at the boutique at All Souls’ Episcopal Church, 1475 Catalina Blvd.
Clairemont Outdoor Living and Garden Tour
The 26th annual Clairemont Outdoor Living and Garden Tour will showcase 13 garden landscapes across the community, including Bay Park and Bay Ho neighborhoods. The self-guided event includes gardens with canyon views, waterwise landscaping, natives, succulents, bromeliads, vegetable planting, and gazebos, play areas, koi ponds and sculptures. Educators will offer free advice on tool sharpening, composting, food dehydration and vector control. Find inspiration to make your outdoor living space more sustainable, productive and inviting.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tickets: $20 early bird tickets are available April 1, online only; free for kids under 12. Tickets can be purchased in person May 5 and 6 at Clairemont Town Square for an additional $5. Online ticket purchasers will be able to pick up wristbands and programs at the same location.
Mission Hills Garden Walk
Presented by the Mission Hills Garden Club, this year’s 25th annual walk will be the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend and include a few spectacular gardens from past years and some new ones. The approximately 2-mile route winds through Mission Hills, known for its variety of home and garden styles. Start times will be staggered, with a limited number of people in any one garden at a time. There will be a scavenger hunt with a prize for all youths finding the treasures in the gardens. Purchase tickets in advance and pick up the map at Mission Hills Nursery, 1525 Fort Stockton Drive, on the day of the walk at your selected start time. Proceeds from the walk support community improvement projects including the Gecko Garden at Grant Elementary School, restoration of Allen Canyon, plantings at Pioneer Park and Presidio Park, and scholarships to students studying agriculture and related fields.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tickets: $35, purchased in advance, go on sale March 15. Admission free for children 10 or younger; no strollers allowed in the gardens.
San Dieguito Art Guild Mother’s Day Weekend Art, Garden and Studio Tour
The nonprofit San Dieguito Art Guild will highlight eight North San Diego County homes during its 25th annual Mother’s Day Weekend Art, Garden & Studio Tour. Participants on the self-guided driving tour can peek into artists’ studios, browse locally made art and relax in each unique garden, including outdoor spaces designed by Debora Carl and Nan Sterman. See the art studio of a watercolor artist/instructor, a stained-glass gate salvaged from a nearby property, an outdoor kitchen, a succulent maze, a large metal sculpture by Ricardo Breceda, vegetable garden beds, a vineyard and native plantings. Artists will sell paintings, ceramics, glass, gourd art, fiber arts, photography, jewelry and more. Free refreshments will be served at every stop; tickets are good both days, and homes may be revisited. This is the guild’s major fundraiser of the year; a portion of proceeds will help fund MiraCosta College art scholarships.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 13 and 14
Tickets: $35, free for ages 17 or younger; available in early April at the Off Track Gallery, 937 S. Coast Highway 101, Suite C-103, Encinitas; online at offtrackgallery.com; or at each home both days of the tour.
San Diego Epiphyllum Society Mother’s Day Weekend Show and Sale
Get an up-close look at the “ultimate Epi flower show” during the San Diego Epiphyllum Society Mother’s Day Weekend Show and Sale. This year’s theme is “Circus Memories and Epies,” featuring an early plant and cutting sale on Saturday and flower show on Sunday. The event will showcase the latest Epiphyllum hybrids as well as many species and epicacti.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 13 (plant sale) and May 14 (flower show)
Tickets: Free admission
San Diego Floral Association Garden Tour
Visit a variety of gardens in a distinctive neighborhood rich with history, towering trees and architectural gems in the San Diego Floral Association Garden Tour, themed “Hidden Riches: Gardens of Historic Bankers Hill.” The annual event is a major fundraiser for the nonprofit San Diego Floral Association, which is based in the Casa del Prado in Balboa Park. “This event is very special for SDFA, and dear to the city of San Diego,” says Robyn Dahlson, association co-president and garden tour chair. “The garden tour will highlight the art of landscape design surrounded by extraordinary architecture and, of course, a wide variety of plants.” The association has a horticulture library and produces a bimonthly magazine, California Garden, published since 1909. It also and it offers classes, lectures, garden tours and its annual eco fair, “Birds, Bees, Flowers and Trees” and annual holiday celebration, “Festival of Trees,” both in Balboa Park.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tickets: $30, available beginning April 1, with discount for association members
Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla and Secret Garden Boutique
This unique event, a key fundraiser for the La Jolla Historical Society’s education and public programs, provides a rare opportunity to stroll behind the garden gates in a self-guided tour of some of La Jolla’s loveliest secluded gardens, often concealed from view by mature trees, vines or foliage. The Secret Garden Boutique at Wisteria Cottage will be open free to the public throughout the day, with gardening accessories, plants and gifts available for purchase. Also planned: a silent auction and food truck fare.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tickets: $50 through March 17 ($40 for La Jolla Historical Society members), $55 from March 19 to May 19 ($45 members); $65 day of ($55 members). Platinum Tour tickets, which include complimentary lunch and tour bus shuttles, are $140/$130 through March 17, $150/$140 from March 18 to May 19. A Friday night “Secret Garden Party” from 6 to 8 p.m. on May 19 is an intimate garden gathering with hors d’oeuvres, wine and music from the Gand Band, for $75.