If you’ve ever found yourself wanting to sneak a peek at some of La Jolla’s finest backyards, the annual Secret Garden Tour might be your only chance.
Held by the La Jolla Historical Society every May for the past 21 years, this event begins with a Friday Night Candlelight Garden Soirée at one of the secret gardens featured during last year’s tour. Guests can enjoy wine, music and hors d’ oeuvres while mixing and mingling with fellow garden enthusiasts. The tour is held the following day with the option of conducting a self-guided tour for $50 or a shuttle transportation tour for $150.
This year’s tour will feature six secluded gardens, including one that La Jolla Historical Society Executive Director Heath Fox thinks that no one will expect.
"One of the reasons it's called The Secret Garden Tour is because we don't reveal where the gardens are or very much about them,” Fox said. "There are two historically designated homes that are on this year's tour. There's one that is not historically designated but it was designed and built by an architect who is now considered a master architect by the City of San Diego's historical resources board.
"And there is one that is going to be, I think, a huge surprise to people. It is not a private residence. It is a commercial entity. That's all I'm gonna say about it at this point, but it's a delightful, delightful place.”
At each of the six garden stops, there will be live music, dining table designs, and plein air artists. La Jolla resident Sharon Hinckley will not only be one of the plein air artists, but she also had her painting “Welcome Home” chosen for this year’s event poster. It’s the third time she’s received this honor.
“I enjoy being outdoors, and it's a wonderful benefit for the historical society,” Hinckley said. “The homes that that are open are very special. They're things that you don't normally get to see. So it's kind of a win-win for everyone.”
After the tour, the pieces created by Hinckley and the eight other artists — Leah Higgins, Toni Williams, Dot Renshaw, Dottie Stanley, Tasha Bock, Patricia Jasper, Theresa Lanzarotto, and Court Jones — at the event will hang at an exhibit in the La Jolla Riford Library from May 20 to June 28. The Secret Garden Tour will also include a free Garden Boutique on the lawn of the historical society’s Wisteria Cottage, a silent auction and a wine reception at the end of the day.
Fox said he believes the variety of the gardens is what brings in over 700 people each year.
"Some of the gardens are smaller, some are larger, some are more classical, and some are more temporary,” he said. "And then there's the relationship of the garden to the architecture of the buildings. So there's a lot to see there's a lot to do on this tour.”
The Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 18. Check-in begins at the La Jolla Historical Society Wisteria Cottage Museum, 780 Prospect St. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit lajollahistory.org.