One clue the holidays are upon us? Garden light shows and wreath-making are back!

A photo illustration of a man jumping through a wreath.
(Micah Fluellen / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images)

With the start of November, the countdown begins to a holiday season we hope will be merry, with lights, music, great grub and real-time visits with the people we love (fingers crossed or, more proactively, arms poked to ward off COVID-19 and the flu).

Many of SoCal’s botanic gardens are resuming their holiday light shows this year — most start before Thanksgiving — so start looking for tickets now if you want to attend because prime evenings sell out quickly.

This is also a great time to wander your yard and neighborhood to collect dried grasses and flowers, seedpods, evergreen branches and cones for holiday arrangements and wreaths. Unsure what to do? Check out last year’s video by the Tree of Life Nursery in San Juan Capistrano or enroll in wreath-making workshops and enter the California Native Plant Society’s Wreath Masters competition (details below).

Use cultivated plants for your creations as much as possible. Dried flowers and seeds provide food for birds and other animals in the winter, so don’t be greedy when you go collecting, and, of course, always get permission to forage on private property.

Taft Gardens & Nature Preserve is a (semi) secret garden near Ojai that should be on everyone’s “Go!” list.

Nov. 4, 2021


Email garden- and plant-related events to at least three weeks before the event, and we might include them in the calendar.

Through Nov. 6
The Theodore Payne Foundation’s Fall Plant Sale offers the native-plant foundation‘s largest selection of California native plants for the year, along with expert advice, activities for children and discount prices (15% off for members, 10% for nonmembers). Admission is free, but attendees must RSVP to maintain COVID-safe crowd sizes at the nursery at 10459 Tuxford St. in Sun Valley.

Through Dec. 5
The California Native Plant Society’s Wreath Masters competition invites individuals and organizations to create wreaths mostly (51%) composed of California native plants in a free monthlong contest. Winners in the six categories receive a limited-edition foil print by botanical artist Justina Freel; the best-of-show winner gets a framed original work of art by Freel. The categories are “Most ‘I want to hang this on my door,’” “Most avant-garden,” “Most naturalistic,” “Most whimsical,” “Kid’s category” for entrants under 18, and “Best in show” (all entries will be considered in this category). Photos of the completed wreaths must be submitted by Dec. 5. Last year’s entries and instructions for making wreaths are on the website, as are wreath-making workshops around California.

Nov. 4
Sherman Library & Gardens Holiday Gift Faire & Volunteer Cookbook Launch offers seasonal plants, handmade items and copies of “First Monday Coffee,” a 123-recipe cookbook created by the Volunteer Assn. of Sherman Library & Gardens, with illustrations by artist Carol Kreider. Admission to the gardens is free during the fair, which runs from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 2647 E. Coast Highway in Corona del Mar.

The new wave in landscaping is building habitat by growing native plants, but you don’t need a yard to promote biodiversity. Hummingbirds, butterflies, bees and other pollinators are happy to dine on native plants growing on balconies or patios.

Dec. 18, 2020

Nov. 5-6
Fullerton Arboretum California Native Plant Sale at 1900 Associated Road in Fullerton offers more than 100 varieties of native plants grown at the arboretum in addition to more than 50 other varieties of flowering shrubs, trees, vines, grasses and succulents. The Nov. 5 sale from 2 to 5 p.m. is open to arboretum members and Cal State Fullerton card holders. The sale on Nov. 6 is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Members get a 10% discount on all plant purchases.

Nov. 6
Ventura County Farm Day features free, self-guided tours of more than a dozen farms, ranches and agricultural organizations in Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo and other parts of Ventura County, 10 a.m to 3 p.m. The event, organized by the nonprofit Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture, or SEEAG, features tours of a family-owned apiary, an organic composting site, an alpaca ranch, berry and fruit farms, Oxnard Historic Farm Park and several organic farms, including the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging‘s Senior Nutrition Garden, which relies on volunteers to tend a 2-acre organic farm with 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables that are donated to needy seniors.


A native plant sale sponsored by the San Gabriel Mountains Chapter of the California Native Plant Society in partnership with the city of Monrovia will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Monrovia Historical Museum, 742 E. Lemon Ave. Volunteers are needed to help with the sale, organized by Artemisia Nursery. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Monrovia Canyon Park Volunteers, who help maintain the park and trails repaired after the 2020 Bobcat fire. A complete list of the sale’s plants and seeds is available at

Bird feeders are killing songbirds, due to a salmonella outbreak, but there are safer and better ways to attract birds to your garden space.

April 15, 2021

Who’s Eating Your Garden? A workshop in organic pest and disease control at the Cook’s Garden, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 1033 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice. $35.

Habitat Restoration at the Los Cerritos Wetlands is the topic of a volunteer event hosted by the Aquarium of the Pacific to restore 66 acres of wetlands by collecting seeds from rare plants, planting varieties native to the region and removing invasive nonnatives. The event takes place the first Saturday of every month through Dec. 4 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Volunteers should meet at Pacific Coast Highway and 1st Street in Seal Beach at 10:15 a.m. Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Closed-toe shoes are required; hats and sunscreen are strongly recommended. Water will be provided, but this is a plastic-bottle-free event, so bring your own reusable water bottle. Registration is not required.

Nov. 9
“All About Strawberries” with the Orange County Organic Gardening Club at 7:30 p.m. in Centennial Farm at the OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive in Costa Mesa. Sustainable gardening teacher and designer Lucie Galvin goes deep about strawberries and how to successfully grow them at home. Admission is free, and masks are required for all attendees. For more information, email

You can grow fruit on your balcony or other small space, as long as you choose the right varieties, keep them well-watered and fed and plant them in the right containers, with plenty of sun.

May 29, 2021

Nov. 10
Teresa Sabankaya, floral designer and author of “The Posy Book,” is the horticulture speaker at Sherman Library & Garden’s Lunch & Lecture event at 2647 E. Coast Highway in Corona del Mar. Sabankaya is a regular instructor at the historic Filoli mansion and gardens and the creator of “Posy in Your Pocket” presentations, her modern spin on historic nosegay bouquets. Copies of her book will be available for purchase. Lunch is at 11:30 a.m., and the lecture starts at noon. The lunch and lecture is $45, or $35 for members. Admission to the lecture only is $5 (free for members).

Nov. 12-Jan. 16
Lightscape at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, 301 N. Baldwin Ave. in Arcadia, is the resumption of the arboretum’s annual nighttime holiday event, which was canceled last year because of the pandemic. This year’s show is a new collection about a mile in length, including a walk-through winter cathedral of white lights and a “fire garden.” The paths are wheelchair accessible. General admission tickets ($32 adults, $20 ages 3-12, free for children 2 and under) have timed entries every 15 minutes between 5:30 and 8:45 p.m. Visitors can stay until the park closes at 10 p.m. Members save $3 per ticket, and advance purchase is recommended due to high demand. VIP tickets ($70) permit flexible, priority entry on the ticketed date and VIP parking. Food and drink will be available for purchase on-site.

Nov. 13
Theodore Payne Foundation’s wreath-making workshop will be taught by Jen Aguilar, education program coordinator for the California Native Plant Society, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at 10459 Tuxford St. in Sun Valley. The workshop will provide the equipment needed to create a wreath, as well as access to a variety of plant materials. Participants are encouraged to bring plant cuttings from their own gardens. Tickets are $40, or $30 for members.

Nov. 14
Garden Plant and Sip Workshop at the Cook’s Garden, 1033 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. This workshop by owner Geri Miller will teach participants how to plant their own herb garden in a biodegradable pot that they can take home. They’ll also get to sample two glasses of wine and a selection of cheese, dried fruits and chocolates. Participants must be 21 or older and present a COVID vaccination card at the door. $65.

The Elm Avenue Community Garden cleanup and winter gardening class are from 1 to 5 p.m. at 44841 Elm Ave. in downtown Lancaster. Volunteers will clean walkways for the winter growing period and receive instructions for creating and protecting a winter garden by Master Gardener Dave Mashore. The Elm Avenue Community Garden is an organic garden that grows and harvests vegetables, fruits and herbs to share with the community. The event is free. Find out more on its Facebook page: Elm Ave Community Garden — a Grow AV Project.

Succulent pumpkins are all the rage at nurseries and workshops, but this living holiday decor is easy and relatively inexpensive to make.

Oct. 29, 2021

Nov. 19-Jan. 9
L.A. Zoo Lights returns after a COVID-19 hiatus with more oversize glowing animals, a “magical disco ball forest” and the world’s largest illuminated pop-up storybook, among other displays, every night except Nov. 25, Dec. 24 and Dec. 25. Tickets have timed entries at 6 , 7 and 8 p.m., and the zoo stays open until 10 p.m. Tickets are $22-$24 for ages 13 and older, $16-$17 for ages 2 to 12 and $15 for members (except Dec. 17-23). Children under 2 are free.

Nov. 20
Wreath Masters: Wreath Making Workshop at Sherman Library & Gardens will be taught by Jen Aguilar, education program coordinator for the California Native Plant Society, from 10 a.m. to noon at 2647 E. Coast Hwy, in Corona del Mar. Participants will receive the hardware and tools needed to create their own wreath as well as access to an array of plant materials. Attendees are welcome to bring their own equipment and cuttings from their garden. Tickets are $25 ($20 for members).

Garden Seed and Sip Workshop at the Cook’s Garden, 1033 Abbot Kinney in Venice, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Owner Geri Miller will help participants plant seeds in a coir seedling tray with seed-starting soil mix and an assortment of seeds. They will also get to sample two glasses of beer or wine with a selection of cheeses, dried fruit and nuts. Participants must be 21 or older and present a COVID vaccination card at the door. $65.

Autumn Centerpiece workshop at the L.A. Arboretum, 301 N. Baldwin Ave. in Arcadia, from 10 a.m. to noon. Instructor Kelley Benes helps participants create a fall centerpiece made from natural materials collected from the arboretum’s gardens. Register online; $50, $40 for members.

Nov. 20-Jan. 17
South Coast Botanic Garden’s GLOW (Garden Lights & Ocean Waters) show, features thousands of lights throughout the garden designed to evoke bayous, beaches and a kelp forest. This year’s event includes food and drink and music. Open daily between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. except Dec. 24 and Dec. 25. Tickets are $24.95 for members and $34.95 for nonmembers. Children 4 and under enter free.

Nov. 21
Wreath Making Workshop at South Coast Botanic Garden, from noon to 2 p.m. at 26300 Crenshaw Blvd., Palos Verdes Peninsula. This workshop, taught by Jen Aguilar, education program coordinator for the California Native Plant Society, will supply equipment and plant materials for making a wreath. Participants are encouraged to bring their own plant cuttings and tools. Tickets are $20, $15 for members.

Nov. 21-Jan. 9
Descanso Gardens’ Enchanted Forest of Light, 1418 Descanso Drive in La Cañada Flintridge, features an interactive evening light show that stretches a mile through the gardens. This year’s exhibit includes a new “town” of stained-glass buildings in the Rose Garden created by sculptor Tom Fruin, along with favorites like the field of glowing tulips that are constantly changing colors. Timed entry every half-hour between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m.; open until 10 p.m. daily, rain or shine, except Nov. 24, Dec. 24 and Dec. 25. Tickets are $25 to $28 for members, $32 to $35 for nonmembers.

Dec. 4
Holiday Wreath Workshop from 10 a.m. to noon at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, 301 N. Baldwin Ave. in Arcadia, provides natural materials gathered from the arboretum grounds and the Los Angeles Flower Market along with forms and wires for participants to make their own holiday wreath. Bring your own clippers and gloves. Space is limited, and preregistration is required. $50 for members, $60 nonmembers.

Dec. 10-12, 16--22
Sherman Library & Gardens’ Nights of 1000 Lights, 2647 E. Coast Highway in Corona del Mar, has timed entries between 6 and 9 p.m. each night. This annual light display includes a gnome village, Santa and his workshop, a light tunnel, crystal disco, Wishing Tree, model trains and the opportunity to make an orange-and-clove pomander to take home. Advance reservations required, $25 for nonmembers, $15 for members, free for children 3 and under.