Two popular outdoor events will merge this year as one great way to spend a Saturday with the family: the Spring Garden and Butterfly Festival, set for April 29 at Cuyamaca College.
The Spring Garden Festival, put on for 24 years by the Ornamental Horticulture program at Cuyamaca College, is combining with the annual Butterfly Festival, put on by the Water Conservation Garden since its butterfly pavilion opened in 2014. Admission and parking are free for the 9 a.m.-3 p.m. event that showcases the college’s renowned Ornamental Horticulture program, as well as the Water Conservation Garden and the Heritage of the Americas Museum, both located on the Cuyamaca College campus.
Looking to beautify your landscaping but with less water? Looking for an easy-on-the-wallet way to entertain the kids? Get some tips and a lot more at this annual community celebration of spring and a greener future. The Rancho San Diego campus becomes a growers’ mecca, with the college nursery’s biggest plant sale of the year, as well as exhibitors and demonstrations designed to inspire the gardener in everyone.
For the kids, the tours of the butterfly pavilion, a “Pollinator Party,” face-painting, and butterfly releases at the Water Conservation Garden are sure to delight, along with the butterfly experts, workshops and an invitation to come to the festival wearing bee and butterfly costumes.
And for the adults, wine tasting is a new addition, with apprentices from the college’s Viticulture Technician Apprentice program serving local wines and sharing information about the college’s newest certificate offering.
More than 40 vendors, craftspeople, and artisans will be offering their wares and services on the campus’ Grand Lawn. A host of activities, exhibits, tours, vendors and demonstrations of sustainable gardening and landscaping promise to inform and entertain the public at one of the region’s largest outdoor community events of the year, expected to draw about 3,000 attendees. Eight food trucks will be stationed at the event, selling kettle corn, sandwiches, shaved ice, waffles, barbeque, sliders and tacos.
The Ornamental Horticulture department’s largest plant sale will feature a wide selection of modestly priced plants and flowers. Sales from the nursery supplement the Ornamental Horticulture program’s regular funding to pay for supplies and equipment. The nursery is a learning lab for students on the identification, care and landscape uses of Southern California’s ornamental trees and shrubs.
“The Spring Garden and Butterfly Festival is a great chance to showcase Cuyamaca’s longstanding commitment to sustainability,” college President Julianna Barnes said. “The event is an opportunity to highlight one of the college’s premiere academic programs, and it is also a day for the community to enjoy exhibitors and demonstrations promoting resource conservation.”
The Water Conservation Garden will have plants for sale, including edible and ornamental plants. Plants can also be purchased from the California Native Plant Society. Docent-led tours of the garden will be offered, in addition to professional landscape designers providing 20-minute consultations. To pre-register for the $20 consultations, call the garden at (619) 660-0614, ext. 10.
But the butterflies get the star billing for the garden’s portion of the festival.
“We are excited to offer hands-on learning experiences in our discovery lab and through butterfly releases,” said Diane Owens, the Water Conservation Garden’s director of events. “There will also be a pollinator party with Ms. Smarty-Plants and story time sessions for the children.”
Opened in 1999, the demonstration garden is funded by memberships, donations, grants and support from the college, local water agencies and the City of San Diego.
The Heritage of the Americas Museum, which features historic art, culture and natural history of the Americas, will have free admission during the festival and docent-led tours at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. A “Five-Choices Dream Raffle” starts at 2 p.m. for prizes including a jade tree from China and white coral; a pre-Columbian Peruvian alpaca canopa or figurine carved from stone and framed archaic arrowheads; a Navajo weaving stick with a weaving and bows and arrows; a framed Olaf Wieghorst print with an alabaster stone sculpture; and gift certificate for either tea for two at the Westgate Hotel or a $50 purchase at the museum store.
Raffle tickets for $1 can be bought on the day of the festival or in advance by calling the museum at (619) 670-5194. Ticket-holders need not be present to win.
Museum director Kathleen Oatsvall said proceeds from the raffle will support the center’s educational programs for the more than 5,000 schoolchildren annually who visit the museum.
Local artist and museum volunteer Diana Kam will give Chinese brush stroke demonstrations and presentations will be given on Kumeyaay fire-making and artifacts. “Journey through the Cosmos with the Art of NASA,” an 11 a.m. presentation sharing photographs from outer space, will be given by Dave Roberts, a museum docent who has worked in the field of applied anthropology for more than 35 years and is also a conference speaker, photographer and published author.
Bill Evans, a Sierra Club national outings leader for 20 years who has led hiking tours and photographed most of the western U.S. national parks, will give a presentation, “Adventure and Discoveries in Your Nearby National Parks,” at 1 p.m. in the museum conference room.
For more information about the event, call the Ornamental Horticulture department at (619) 660-4023, or the Water Conservation Garden at (619) 660-0614, or visit the festival website at www.thegarden.org/springfestival/
Cuyamaca College is at 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway in Rancho San Diego.