Courtyard fountains, topiaries, ivy-covered lattices and colorful exotic blooms will all be part of the private gardens open for touring this spring.
Many tours will be enhanced by refreshments, entertainment from area musicians, and art fairs. Some also include information booths staffed by horticulturalists and vendors selling garden products and plantings.
If you can't make the specialty tours listed below, remember the San Diego Botanical Garden in Encinitas offers docent-led tours of its lush 35 acres every Saturday at 10 am. Tours depart from the visitor center and do not require a reservation. The tours are free with the $12 admission.
A new Waterwise Tour is given at 10 a.m. on the last Saturday of each month. The Botanic Garden is open daily from?9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking is $2 at 230 Quail Gardens Drive.
Other local garden tours
"A Landscape in Transition," American Society of Landscape Architects, San Diego Chapter, 1 to 5:30 p.m. May 1, departing from Kilroy Business Center Del Mar, 3611 Valley Centre Drive. Guided bus tour of four private residential gardens and public projects designed by architects. Afterglow includes music, food and drink, plus a raffle. Tickets $45 at
"Through Garden Gates" tour, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 1, with four North County gardens featuring Mediterranean, succulent, and native plantings. Hosted by American Association of University Women, Del Mar-Leucadia. Tickets: $25-$35 at (760) 603- 9287 or The Book Works, 2670 Via de la Valle, Flower Hill Promenade, Del Mar.
Five gardens, plus admission to Weidners' Gardens, Ecke Ranch. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 24. The gardens on tour feature a tribute to California native plants, a sangiovese vineyard, an estate-sized English garden, and others. Tickets $25 at www.crcncc.org or (760) 230-6305; on tour day at Weidners' Gardens, 695 Normandy Road, Encinitas. Benefits Community Resource Center programs.
Rancho Santa Fe:
"Water-wise and beautiful," sponsored by Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club, 9 a.m. April 25. Bus ride to four gardens, then back to headquarters for lunch, spring flower exhibit, displays by the Santa Fe Irrigation District and the San Dieguito River Conservancy. Tickets: $50-$65 at (858) 756-1554 or
- Benefits horticulture scholarships and conservation groups.
Encinitas Garden Festival and Tour, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 25, features walking tour of 20 gardens in Cardiff, local artists' booths, outdoor living rooms and other attractions. Marketplace will have vendors with unusual plants, vegetable seedlings and garden art, plus exhibitors with information about gardening, composting and more. Park at MiraCosta College's San Elijo campus where buses will shuttle guests to site. $10-$21 at encinitasgardenfestival.org. (760) 753-8615. Benefits gardening books for the libraries, funding for public landscaping, school gardens.
"Coastal Treasures" annual tour of the homes, gardens and studios of the San Dieguito Art Guild members. Refreshments, entertainment, art for sale. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 9-10. Tickets: $20 at Off Track Gallery, 687 S. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas,
Benefits school art department.
Just for kids:
The annual Lady Bug Day at San Diego Botanical Garden runs 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 24. Scientists at Cornell University need the help of children around the country to find, photograph, and release ladybugs as part of the Lost Ladybug Project. The scientists are concerned about the decline of native ladybugs and need help knowing what kind of ladybugs can be found in the San Diego-area. When participants upload the photos of the ladybugs, the scientists at Cornell will identify them. It was a 10- and 11-year-old sister and brother who found the nine-spotted ladybug the scientist hadn't seen in years. Last year, event participants found and photographed 176 ladybugs. Meet in the Seeds of Wonder parking lot and join a search team, then try some crafts, and learn more about ladybugs. Next, take a grownup to visit the new Hamilton Children's Garden where Irene T. Hunt will read and sign her new book, "Queen Iween's Beautiful Butterflies," with many pictures photographed at the Botanic Garden.