Laguna Woods garden tour raises $1,000 for city’s public library branch
The world of books and the roots of nature joined together Sunday, May 5, at a private garden tour, “Taste of Nature,” to support the city’s public library branch.
The Laguna Woods Civic Support Corporation teamed up with the Garden Club and 110 Club for a flower-powered fundraiser to expand the Laguna Woods Branch of OC Public Libraries, located in City Hall.
For a $30 tax-deductible donation, visitors were granted access to seven Laguna Woods Village manors to stop and smell the roses, plumerias, lilacs, lavender and pansies, to name a few.
“We’ve run out of space,” Councilwoman Carol Moore said of the cramped, walk-in-closet-sized room. “It’s one of the busiest (locations) in the county and we need more space.”
Whether that means construction or relocation, it’s too early to tell, she said; however, the event raised over $1,000 — some of which was donated by people unable to attend the garden tour, but interested in supporting the cause.
“Libraries have always been information centers … so today the library is providing information (that’s) particularly helpful because people apply for jobs online,” Moore said. “It’s a great mechanism for keeping people involved in the community and giving everyone access to information.”
The public library at City Hall opened in 2002. Moore said that the county system provides the supplies and manpower to stock and run the library while the city is in charge of supplying the space.
Diane and Alan Clark, Village residents for almost two years, attended for two reasons: to get ideas for their own garden project in the making and to support the library expansion.
Diane Clark “constantly” drops into the Laguna Woods Village Library — the larger library near Clubhouse One — about once every week or two to check out books or puzzles.
“It’s perfect as far as I’m concerned,” Clark said of the Village Library. “(As for) the City Hall library, it’s in a small room. It needs some help.”
The Clarks, who are standing by for their condo to be painted before they begin planting, used the tour to investigate what native plants work best locally as well as draw design inspiration from the tour’s hosts. The couple lounged in Barbara Marsh’s garden, with boastful pink snapdragons guarding the entryway, flourishing green echeveria succulents at the base of a cornered blood-red leafed tree guiding the way to a rose garden alongside the house.
Marsh, 91, self-ascribed as a low-maintenance gardener. Her collection consists primarily of store-bought transplants that she installs herself.
“If it dies, I pull it out and buy another one,” Marsh said. “I try not to get too attached until (the flowers/plants) are doing well.”
If Marsh had to pick a favorite, it’d be her Diana, Princess of Wales Rose, a hybrid tea rose.
Whatever the Clarks decide, Alan Clark, the half with the green thumb, sounded confident that he’ll be able to cultivate a variety of seeds. The American Legion Commander of Post 257 has experience of growing corn crops at a 7,000-foot elevation during their 15-year residence in Big Bear, he said.
After Marsh’s garden, the Clarks moved onto their fifth location of the day, Sally Pruitt’s lakeside bird sanctuary.
Greeted by a hot-pink hibiscus tree in full bloom, tour-goers were encouraged to identify the goldfinches, egrets, ducks and sparrows that drank from Pruitt’s three-tiered fountain centerpiece to her chromatic flower beds.
“In the morning, we get what we call a gathering. They’re waiting for that fountain to turn on,” Pruitt said. “Every bird you can imagine that’s native to this region of SoCal visits us. It’s wonderful.”
Audubon Society members Eva Lydick and Cristi Saylor set up a post anchored by birdwatching books and a scope overlooking Barbara Lake, a westside conservation area for wildlife and the only natural lake in Orange County, down a slope of wildflower just beyond Pruitt’s wooden fence.
Lydick, a 10-year member, spoke about bird counts across the country reporting a northward shift of habitat ranges, likely due to global warming, she said. Gardens full of native species and self-sustainability may actually help regulate bird migration, three-year member Saylor said.
“Birds will show up in your garden, especially if you have native plants, because you’ll have the right insects or the right lizards or the right flowers to eat,” Saylor said. “If there’s just grass, (humans) might think ‘oh man, this is great, look at all that green,’ but to a bird — that’s a desert. There isn’t any food.”
Going native is important for Pruitt, a gardener since she was 18. When designing the garden’s layout she chose lavender, baby’s breath, and a variety of roses to craft a more formal look, but will often experiment to figure out what plants work well with the area and with each other.
“Other than that, I love color and I want low-maintenance,” she said, noting her collection of xeriscape plants, a term associated with low-water, drought-tolerant landscaping.
In recent years, she introduced her husband to gardening and its calming, cathartic effect since his retirement. Now they garden together.
At one point the Pruitt’s had 27 types of roses, including three rare species they had to travel to collect, only for the lot to be decimated by a gang of gophers.
The Pruitt’s next project is to find something that will survive the intensity of the sun during the summer months.
Though Pruitt hasn’t visited the City Hall library since moving to Laguna Woods last September, she was thrilled to share her “garden of love.”
“That’s what gardening’s about: sharing the love, the beauty of this area with others,” she said. “And you know what the best part is? Anyone can do it.”