San Diego Floral Association
From The Archives of California Garden
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Garden Tours for Olympic Visitors
May/June 2010, Volume 101 No. 3
Everyone who has volunteered with a garden tour committee knows how much effort goes into planning these one-day events. The work starts months in advance and the details seem endless. San Diego Floral Association members in the 1930s were built of stronger stuff: this story describes a week-long garden tour in 1932. One thing hasn’t changed. Then, as now, garden tours depend on the homeowners who so generously open their gardens to visitors.
–Nancy Carol Carter
Garden Tours for Olympic Visitors
By Walter S. Merrill
The Floral Association has added to its laurels this Summer by offering a carefully planned program for entertaining visitors to the city. The idea originated with the thought that the Olympic Games in Los Angeles would attract to that city thousands of visitors, many of whom would visit San Diego after the games. Of these guests of the city, a goodly number would welcome the opportunity for seeing some of our finest private gardens; and to make this easy, the Floral Association arranged for a solid week (August 15th to 22nd) of garden tours. Owners of our best gardens gladly opened their grounds to these visitors, free transportation was provided, and headquarters were opened at the U.S. Grant Hotel where strangers could make reservations, choosing those tours which seemed to them most attractive.
At ten o’clock each morning, automobiles carried visitors to Balboa Park, the outstanding features of which were pointed out. After seeing the park, the visitors were taken to a few noteworthy gardens in the vicinity. For the afternoons, five different tours were arranged – to Mission Hills, Point Loma, Pacific Beach, Chula Vista and Coronado. In each of these sections three or four lovely gardens, large and small, were carefully examined. Guides pointed out the rarer plants and explained the methods used in growing them; they also discussed San Diego’s great horticultural advantages, and especially the enormous variety of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants which may be grown here successfully. Points of interest along the routes were indicated, and much information, other than horticultural, was given to our guests.
The visitors were enthusiastic over the beauties of the city and its gardens and over the hospitality of its citizens. None, I am sure, left without expressing the desire to return for a more extended visit. I do not know how many guests were taken on the tours. Many neglected to register and several made more than one tour. However, although there were not, probably, visitors from all the states, I do know that the country as a Whole - from Maine to Washington and from Louisiana to Minnesota - was well represented.
What was done this summer for the Olympic visitors could and should be done for a week every Spring, Summer and Fall. It costs little of time, labor or money, and serves better than anything else that I know to show garden-minded visitors what the possibilities of San Diego are. Santa Barbara has been offering such Garden Tours for years, and there is no reason why San Diego, under the leadership of the Floral Association, should not display her charms with as much pride.
Mission: To promote the knowledge and appreciation of horticulture and floriculture in the San Diego region.