Del Mar Garden Club to hold special sale, educational talk

By Kelley Carlson

For the first time in years, the Del Mar Garden Club is selling plants from members’ private gardens to the public.

The nonprofit organization is holding a sale and educational talk on March 26 at the Powerhouse Community Center, located at 1700 Coast Blvd. in Del Mar.

Master gardener Carol Graham will focus on the subject of composting in a speech titled “Great for Your Garden; Good for Your Community,” which will start at 10 a.m.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., unique plants from garden club members will be offered at a great price, according to Carol Vernon, president of the organization. Mary McBride will have summer bulbs, rare succulents, California natives, drought-tolerant shrubs and legacy plants from Tom Piergrossi and Buena Creek. Also, Liz Youngflesh of Garden Glories Nursery will feature her alstroemeria collection, the latest from Annie’s Annuals, and many of the late master gardener and horticulturist Bill Teague’s recommendations for San Diego planting.

Experts will be available at the event to answer questions.

Although the sale is a rarity for the organization, the Del Mar Garden Club has been active for a couple of decades. It was started by Marnie Mahoney and Linda Teague in 1988 to “stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening and to contribute to the beautification of the community.” The original members consisted of Bette Coates, Jill Coughlin, Connie Geritz, Peg Hawkins, Rosanne Holliday, Karen Lockwood, Ginny Melvin, Sue Nutter, Marion Staver, Pat Welsh and Pat Stroud. A year later, the group expanded by 24 people.

In 1991, the club held its first fundraiser: a garden tour and plant sale. The money was used to establish the garden in front of the city’s post office, and was designed by members Linda Chisari and Bill Teague. The organization — now totaling about 45 people of all ages — continues to maintain the garden.

The Del Mar Garden Club has been involved with a number of projects over the years.

“We do a large majority of the beautification you see in the Village,” Vernon said.

Besides creating the garden at the post office, the group has had the trees in front the building pruned, and members maintain the display box in the front.

The club has also worked on the walkway next to the Gold Center; the sidewalk garden plots at the 14th Street and Camino del Mar crosswalk area by Bully’s; the gardens at the library and in front of City Hall; the sculpture project at City Hall; and Crest Canyon Park, which consists of California native plants.

Vernon said Del Mar Garden Club members do most of the work, but they also receive help from the Public Works Department.

“This is an amazing group of people that are so caring and kind to us,” Vernon said. “Aztec Landscaping also helps ... the city contracts with them, so if there are things that are too heavy for us to do, we do get help.”

The group participates in nonlaborious activities, as well. For example, it has sent flowers to the wounded warriors at Balboa Naval Hospital through the Petals for Patriots Program. And each spring and fall, the club presents two beautification awards — the Pride of Del Mar — to businesses that contribute to the beautification of the Village.

Last year, the club funded two grants to help with garden programs at Del Mar Hills Academy and Torrey Hills School. Members also presented a “Teach and Greet Seed Planting for Children” at the Del Mar Farmers Market’s 25th anniversary celebration, in which they supplied pots, seeds, instructions and dirt and taught children how to plant and take care of their seedlings. In addition, the Del Mar Garden Club held a fundraiser in conjunction with Friends of the Powerhouse to establish the Bill Teague Memorial Garden at the new Beach Safety Center.

The organization offers monthly educational programs and garden tours for its members. Tours are mostly held in the spring, in and outside of the community. The most recent one was at the Mission Hills home of Jim Bishop, president of the San Diego Horticultural Society, according to Vernon.

“We have seen some amazing gardens,” Vernon said. “These field trips really energize me and make me want to get back to my home and dig in the dirt.”

More projects will soon be under way for the club. Vernon said members plan to continue working on the rock walls at the post office. There will also be a fundraiser referred to as “The Doors of Del Mar,” in which residents will be asked to submit photos of interesting entryways. The photos will be turned into notecards and sold.

Vernon said the nonprofit welcomes monetary donations for help in maintaining its projects or starting future ones. Contributions can be sent to the Del Mar Garden Club, P.O. Box 2832, Del Mar, CA 92014.

“I have loved all of our projects,” Vernon said. “I especially get great joy when I walk around the Village and see all of the places we have made a difference. ... I love the feeling I get from working with such an enthusiastic group of women that do all of this work to help make the Village we call home more beautiful.”

For more information about the sale or “The Doors of Del Mar” fundraiser, call Vernon at (858) 259-9549 or e-mail

Photos courtesy of Carol Vernon

City Hall Crew March 2010[1].jpg: Del Mar Garden Club members work on the garden at City Hall.

City Hall Garden Revitalization1.jpg: Del Mar Garden Club members work on the revitalization of the landscaping at City Hall.

IMG_2351[1].jpg: The Del Mar Garden Club’s general membership meeting is held monthly.

IMG_8845[1].jpg: Becky Dembitsky and Linda Chisari take a break from a garden project.

IMG_8846[1].jpg: Linda Chisari and Judy Schuckit work in Crest Canyon Park.