La Jolla Historical Society’s Secret Garden Tour returns May 18

By Ashley Mackin

The famed Secret Garden Tour, the primary fundraiser for the La Jolla Historical Society, is back for its 15th year from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 18. While the tour will still showcase six different gardens, there are some new and improved features this year. For the first time, Wisteria Cottage, 780 Prospect St., will be the site of a Garden Boutique.

Also, building off its success last year, attendees can pick up their maps and wristbands the day before the event.

Each garden, kept secret until participants pick up their wristbands, vary in location and style, organizers said. “Generally we try to run the full gamut,” said co-chair Sue Kalish, adding there will be a house on the coast and one in the Muirlands area, small and large homes, and one rose garden.

In addition to the gardens, at each location visitors will find an artist painting scenes of the gardens, a table-scape designer and plant experts to explain what all the plants are and answer questions. Some locations will also include live music.

New this year is the Garden Boutique, which co-chair Pam Filley said will make Wisteria Cottage “look like a party is happening here.” In front of the cottage, vendors will sell lavender from North County, as well as lanterns, birdhouses, unique jewelry, antiques and garden sculptures. The Historical Society will have coffee and snacks and Amici’s Pizzeria will provide samples for boutique shoppers.

Participants don’t have to be on the tour to go to the boutique.

“We see this as a unique opportunity to have unusual vendors,” Kalish said. “They won’t be people you’d find at the Farmers Market. We wanted to bring something new to La Jolla.”

Also new to the tour is the day-before check-in, which started last year and is being improved upon this year.

“In past years, people had to come the morning of (the tour) and it was crazy, everybody trying to get their tickets and wristbands,” Filley said. “Now you can come the day before, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (at Wisteria Cottage) or we’ve got a drive- through on Eads Avenue, so they don’t even have to get out of their cars.”

Whether they pick up the map the day before or the morning of, those on the self- guided tour can drive to the six gardens in any order and stay at each one for as long as they like. Tickets for the self-guided tour are $50. On the Platinum Tour, participants are driven by bus to each of the gardens, plus a bonus seventh garden, and get brunch at Estancia La Jolla Hotel. Platinum tickets are $150.

Funds raised through the Secret Garden Tour support the Historical Society’s programs, exhibits, collections and preservation efforts. Their website states, “Our community’s heritage is something to be proud of and events like the Secret Garden Tour enable the Society to be a true champion of that heritage.”

Tickets are available at