Garden Calendar: ‘Bonsai-A-Thon,’ bird watching and mushroom walks

California quail are one of the many bird species who thrive among the native plants of the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont. Learn more about native birds during the gardens' Family Bird Festival on Feb. 16.
(Ernie Cowan)

If you have a plant-related class, garden tour or other event you’d like us to mention, email — at least three weeks in advance — and we may include it. Send a high-resolution horizontal photo, if possible, and tell us what we’re seeing and whom to credit. Here’s what’s happening now:

Through March 29
“Incredible Journey: Bugs” is a new daily exhibit at the South Coast Botanic Garden designed to educate visitors about the butterflies, spiders, ants and bees that can be found in our SoCal gardens and to encourage exploration of new areas in the 87-acre garden at 26300 Crenshaw Blvd. in Rolling Hills Estates. Free with $9 admission to the garden ($6 seniors and students, $4 children ages 5-12). Members and children under 5 enter free.

Celery is today’s star vegetable. Here’s how to grow your own at home for taller stalks and more robust taste.

Jan. 22, 2020


Through March 19
Acorns & Oaks, the L.A. Arboretum’s first Parent & Me program designed to provide outdoor nature-based learning for babies, toddlers and children up to the age of 5. Instructor Betsy Edelberg, founder of Playgroup Los Angeles, encourages parent-child bonding through tactile play with nature, crafts, songs and stories. Every Thursday, 9 to 10 a.m. at the Arboretum, 301 N. Baldwin Ave. in Arcadia. $150 for up to one child and two adults, max. Additional siblings $50. Member fees $10 plus $45 for additional siblings.

Artist Jessica Rath imagines human-sized bumblebee nests at Rath’s “fruiting bodies” exhibit at Descanso Gardens.

Jan. 16, 2020

Feb. 14
Sherman Library and Gardens’ lunch talk features Cornell University professor Donald A. Rakow, co-author of “Nature Rx — Improving College Student Mental Health,” discussing ways to overcome college students’ “overwhelming anxiety” at 2647 E. Coast Highway in Corona del Mar. Lunch is served at 11:30 a.m., the talk begins at 12:15 p.m. Reservations required for lunch; $30 for members, $40 non-members. Lecture only is free for members, $5 for non-members.

Feb. 15
Beyond Sustainability — the Future of Regenerative Building in SoCal is the second of a six-part hands-on educational training series at the L.A. Arboretum’s Crescent Farm where participants learn horticultural techniques for water conservation and sustainable gardening. Participants should wear closed-toed shoes and bring drinking water and a hat at 10 a.m. to the Arboretum, 301 N. Baldwin Ave., in Arcadia. Free with admission to the Arboretum, $9 adults, $6 students and seniors, members enter for free.

“Hearsay and the truth about daylilies,” a talk by “Yenok,” a daylily grower and hybridizer based in Los Angeles, is the program for the Southern California Daylily and Bulb Society’s monthly meeting at 10 a.m. in the Palm Room of the L.A. Arboretum, 301 N. Baldwin Ave., in Arcadia.

The 8th 5K Paw Walk in the San Diego Botanic Garden is a fundraiser for the 37-acre garden and the Rancho Coastal Humane Society. The walk is open to all (leashed) dogs and humans, with or without canine companions. Limit two dogs per person, and humans must clean up after their dogs (bags are provided). Register online at or the day of the event starting at 7:30 a.m. $32 adults, $21 youth under 18, garden members and humane society volunteers. The walk starts at 9 a.m. at 300 Quail Gardens Drive in Encinitas.


Feb. 16
Family Bird Festival at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens offers hands-on activities, stories and educational opportunities for bird enthusiasts and beginners who want to know more about bird watching, bird species and rescue, raptors and condors, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Speakers include representatives from Pomona Valley Audubon, International Bird Rescue, Wild Wings of California, Wild Bird Unlimited and California Condors Wild and Free. Free with $10 admission to the garden ($6 student with ID and seniors 65+, $4 for children 3-12. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden is the largest botanic garden dedicated to California native plants, 1500 College Place, Claremont.

Feb. 18
Miniature Floral Design by specialist Linda Lang is the program at this month’s meeting of the Southern California Garden Club in the Sepulveda Garden Center, 16633 Magnolia Blvd. in Encino. The program begins at 11 a.m., preceded by a plant market at 9:30 a.m., business meeting at 10 a.m. and pollinator workshop at 10:30 a.m. A bring-your-own lunch follows the program; beverages and desserts are provided by the club. Admission is free.

Feb. 20
Metropolitan Water District Turf Rebate Information Session sponsored by the Assn. of Professional Landscape Designers at Burbank Water and Power, 164 W. Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank. Krista Reger, a water efficiency expert from the water district, discusses best design practices and common design mistakes. 2-4 p.m. Admission free to association members, $15 non-member, purchase tickets online.

Feb. 21-22
Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants, Winter Plant Sale, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 10459 Tuxford St., in Sun Valley. Members get 15% off all plants, seed and gear; 10% off for non-members.

Feb. 22-23
Bonsai-a-Thon at the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. each day. Southern California bonsai masters share their passion during this annual event that includes exhibits, demonstrations, prize drawings, a “bonsai bazaar” and a live auction at 3 p.m. each day. Proceeds support the Golden State Bonsai Collection at the Huntington. Free with general admission, 1151 Oxford Road in San Marino, starting at $29 (members enter free). A special bonsai workshop for adults from 9 a.m. to noon on Feb. 22 gives each participant a small tree to grow at home. $55, $45 for members. A similar workshop for children ages 7 and up is also scheduled from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 22. The fee of $45 ($35 for members) includes one child and one accompanying adult.

Feb. 24
“Cattleya trianae, Jewel of the Rio Magdalena,” a talk by noted Cattleya grower and hybrider Linden Burzell, is the program for the South Coast Orchid Society’s monthly meeting at the Whaley Park Community Center, 5620 E. Atherton St. in Long Beach, from 7 to 9 p.m.


Feb. 29
Pollinator-Human Plant Forages at Descanso Gardens, in conjunction with “fruiting bodies” at the Sturt Haaga Gallery, 1418 Descanso Dr. in La Cañada Flintridge. Ecological systems engineer nance klehm leads two walks to point out flowering plants visited by native bees, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. $20 members/$30 nonmembers. Advance registration required.

March 1
Forages mushroom walk with nance klehm at Descanso Gardens, in conjunction with “fruiting bodies” at the Sturt Haaga Gallery, 1418 Descanso Drive in La Cañada Flintridge. Ecological systems engineer Nance Klehm leads a beginner’s mushroom walk through the gardens’ native oak woodland for mycelium and fruiting bodies of mushrooms. Learn the life cycle of fungi and how to identify mushroom species. The walk will end with a mushroom tea. $20 members/ $30 nonmembers. Advance registration required.

March 6-May 31
Spring Bloom Walks at Descanso Gardens. Learn about cherry blossoms, flowering trees and other seasonal favorites on these guided walks through the gardens at 1418 Descanso Drive in La Cañada Flintridge. 1 p.m. on Fridays, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Note walks may be canceled due to inclement weather. Free with $9 admission to the gardens ($6 seniors/students, $4 children 5-12, free to members and children under 5)

March & April
Shakespeare in the Garden at Descanso Gardens Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. in March and April (except April 12) in the gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive in La Cañada Flintridge. The Ensemble Shakespeare Theater returns with performances “amongst Descanso’s spring blooms.” Free with $9 admission to the gardens ($6 seniors/students, $4 children ages 5-12, free to members and children under 5).

March 7-8
Orange Empire Bonsai Society Bonsai Exhibition & Show at Sherman Gardens & Library, 2647 E. Coast Highway in Corona del Mar. The show includes a Saikei workshop at 11 a.m. on March 7 to learn how to create a natural blend of rocks, trees, smaller plants and mosses ($90 members, $100 non-members), and a free bonsai demonstration with instructor Gary Lai at 1 p.m. on March 8. The show is free with $5 admission to the gardens.

March 7
Improving your Composting Skills, a 1.5-hour workshop at the Fullerton Arboretum instructs students on how to build and improve composting systems, 10–11:30 a.m. at 1900 Associated Road at Cal State Fullerton. Parking is free in Lot G. Register online; $7 for members, 10 non-members.


March 8
“Cactus and succulent conservation around the world,” a presentation by cactus expert Wendell S. (Woody) Minnich, is the topic of this month’s meeting of the South Coast Cactus & Succulent Society, 1 p.m. at the South Coast Botanic Garden, 26300 Crenshaw Blvd., in Rolling Hills Estates.

March 10
“The Anza Trail Native Garden in Griffith Park” is the topic of this month’s meeting of the L.A./Santa Monica Mountains Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, with speaker Katherine Pkradouni of, an organization devoted to converting underutilized land in Los Angeles into a network of nurseries designed to produce plants for green infrastructure projects (such as public parks and L.A. River restoration) while providing educational and vocational training opportunities for Angelenos. 7:30-9:30 p.m. in the Sepulveda Garden Center, 16633 Magnolia Blvd. in Encino.