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Village Garden Club of La Jolla celebrates donations to its tree planting program

Those who have helped the growth of a local tree planting program were honored at a Village Garden Club of La Jolla ceremony at the La Jolla Historical Society’s Wisteria Cottage.

During the June 7 event, the dozens of guests heard remarks from Village Garden Club members and musical performances from baritone Patrick Anderson and pianist Justin Gray and applauded those who have donated to the tree program.

The program began in 1986 with “a vision of an urban forest of jacaranda trees,” said Village Garden Club member and past president Devonna Hall.

More than 2,500 jacarandas have been planted all over San Diego County since the program’s inception, including several planted recently along Pearl Street in La Jolla.

The club expanded its mission to include other trees, since the jacarandas, which bloom only about two months a year, “aren’t really such good shade trees,” said club member and past president Penelope West.

“There are many areas in San Diego that really need shade,” she said.

Shade trees “clean and cool our neighborhoods and provide vital habitats for birds, bees, insects and other wildlife,” Hall said.

The Village Garden Club’s trees include Engelmann oak, Arbutus marina, New Zealand Christmas tree, pink trumpet and Chinese pistache.

Members and others donate money to the club for the trees. The annual ceremony included recognition of all those who donated.

“We’ve got quite a long list of people this year,” West said, noting that the ceremony was not held the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Donor Richard Vande Noord said he gives money to the tree planting program annually in memory of his wife, Diane, who died in February 2020.

“She was a member of the Village Garden Club,” he said. “That was her favorite thing of all things to do, and the jacarandas were probably her favorite project.”

The club, founded in 1974, has about 270 members, about 40 percent of them from outside La Jolla, West said.

Co-President Susan Harris said the club’s other projects include education programs, workshops, field trips, garden tours, supporting a healing garden at the Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health; making and delivering flower arrangements to every patient at the VA Medical Center in La Jolla four times a year and awarding grants to support gardens at 14 area schools.

“As we look around,” West said, “we realize that the mature trees whose shade we enjoy today were planted by others many years ago. They are a gift to us from past generations. As we plant young trees today, we pass that gift to be enjoyed by future generations.” ◆