The Secret Garden Tour of Old La Jolla, celebrating its 10th year, will be extra special this time around as the resplendent gardens of The Bishop’s School will be among those on display Saturday, May 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Tour will reveal gardens and homes that reflect the charm and often tucked-away hidden scenery of enduring La Jolla, all decked out in their spring splendor.
As usual, this year’s tour will also feature live entertainment including music performed by local musicians, displays by local designers and merchants and La Jolla artists creating paintings which capture each home and garden’s unique beauty. The handiwork of notable interior designers will also be on display inside and outside homes on the tour. Also new and special this year is a garden to be viewed exclusively by Platinum Tour guests, who will also be dining at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club.
The garden tour has become La Jolla Historical Society’s highest-profile annual event.
“It is our largest fund-raising event of the year,” noted historical society executive director John Bolthouse. “Our goal this year is to gross $100,000. It’s really our most visible public program for the year as well.”
Betty Vale, caretaker for The Bishop’s School’s gardens, is the garden tour chairperson this year. Vale noted the school and the historical society are partnering to promote the landmark event. The timing couldn’t have been better: Bishop’s is starting its centennial celebration next year this summer, as well as its being the garden tour’s 10th anniversary.
“We’re trying to do something mutually beneficial for one another,” pointed out Vale.
Vale said the garden tour is headed up by a committee which spends the better part of a year selecting gardens and organizing and executing the spring event. “All together we have about 1,000 people, including more than 100 volunteers, who participate in our garden tour,” said Vale.
Honorary co-chairs of the 2008 garden tour are Tricia and Bill Kellogg of the Beach & Tennis Club. “They have just been great to the historical society over the years with their support,” said Vale.
The roots of The Secret Garden Tour of Old La Jolla go back to 1999 and two members of the La Jolla Historical Society, Realtor Linda Marrone and Susan Vandendriesse. The tour is a “cutting” taken from an East Coast event benefiting an art museum that was transplanted here, where it’s grown and blossomed becoming a signature community event.
Linda Marrone, garden tour co-founder, said the event started out small but has outgrown all expectations for it. “The first year we raised all of $15,000,” said Marrone, “and now we’re up to maybe $70,000. We have just wonderful support from very responsible underwriters who’ve been loyal since the beginning.”
Marrone pointed out the historical society has significant expenses including funding a full-time executive director and an archivist. The organization is also in the throes of a major long-term capital campaign to secure funding to restore historic Wisteria Cottage, turning it into the Society’s headquarters and a public meeting and exhibition site.
The botanical treasury of The Bishop’s School campus is part of the school’s long tradition. The Bishop’s School was the dream of the Rt. Rev. Joseph Johnson, bishop from 1896 to 1928 of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. He and the school’s benefactors, Ellen Browning Scripps and her sister, Eliza Virginia, envisioned a college-preparatory school for girls in the West that would be a place where students would know the “influence of simple and beautiful surroundings in a setting of natural loveliness, in the belief that the silent influences of environment play a part in the deepening and development of the mind.”
Sixty specimens at Bishop’s have been chosen for the garden tour: All are examples of plants well-suited to La Jolla’s Mediterranean-type climate with warm, dry summers and cool wet winters. Many of the campus gardens are designed to serve as outdoor classrooms, which can be enjoyed by students year-round.
Suzanne Weiner, Bishop’s School spokeswoman, noted the school is hosting a special event in conjuction with the garden tour, known as the “Centennial Sneak Peak,” on the school’s campus following the self-guided tour from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 10.
The post-garden tour celebration at Bishop’s costs $25 and is open to tour guests and the general public. Wine, hors d’oeuvres and other refreshments will be served. Music will be provided by Bishop’s alumni jazz band.
For more information about the Centennial Sneak Peak call (858) 459-4021 ext. 409 or visit
There will be a total of six gardens on the self-guided tour, plus an extra one reserved for premium Platinum Tour guests. The Platinum Tour is sold out but self-guided tour tickets, which cost $40 for members, $50 for non-members, may still be available. For more information visit
www.ljhs.org/contact.phpor call (858) 459-4335.