2nd annual Enchanted Garden Gala helps grow plants and programs at Water Conservation Garden

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At the Water Conservation Garden in Rancho San Diego, the evening of Oct. 17 was a magical one. Faeries and fanciful creatures cavorted in the garden while guests sipped elegant drinks and bid on silent auction items. Twinkle lights and pretty gazebos dazzled the imagination at the second annual Enchanted Garden Gala.

At the Water Conservation Garden in Rancho San Diego, the evening of Oct. 17 was a magical one. Faeries and fanciful creatures cavorted in the garden while guests sipped elegant drinks and bid on silent auction items. Twinkle lights and pretty gazebos dazzled the imagination at the second annual Enchanted Garden Gala.
The sold-out event had 275 guests attending, with VIPS including San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob; State Senator Joel Anderson; Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Chancellor Dr. Cindy Miles; San Diego County Water Authority Chairman Mark Weston and Lemon Grove Mayor Mary Sessom.
Diane Owens, director of events, explained that the Garden works closely with the Cuyamaca College Department of Ornamental Horticulture on numerous programs and projects.     
Many East County residents know this garden well, a sort of sanctuary for those seeking answers to drought-wise planting. Planted in 1992 by local water agencies and Cuyamaca College, the garden opened to the public in 1999.
Peggy Matarese, a member of the garden committee, was one of about 70 volunteers who worked to make the gala a success.
“It is very meaningful to me to be part of something so critically important to our future,” Matarese said. “Most everyone understands that we must use less water but (what) so many don’t understand is that they can still have beautiful home gardens. We offer six acres of demonstration gardens as well as low or no-cost classes and other expert advice opportunities.”
Proceeds from the gala will enable the garden to enhance a number of elements of its award-winning youth education program. This will include new costumes and props for “Ms. Smarty-Plants”; water-savings tracking posters for classrooms as well as new professionally designed literature, videos and online tools tailored to a younger audience. The funds will also help a pilot program that helps students, parents and teachers at K-12 schools transition their campus landscapes to utilize water-wise practices.  
Additionally,  as with all The Water Conservation Garden’s fund-raising efforts, proceeds will help make critical investments in The Garden’s six acres of demonstration gardens and exhibits.
“The program inspires young people through interactive and engaging hands-on learning in water conservation and stewardship of the earth,” Owens said.
With California being in one of the worst droughts in its history, people want to help with conservation efforts however they can, Owens explained.
“Supporting The Garden through the gala is an ideal way to give back,” she said.
Funds from the gala event will only go so far, of course, but becoming a member of the Water Conservation Garden is the easiest, quickest and most mutually beneficial way to support the organization and its programs.
“The Garden can only succeed with the help of its outstanding volunteer corps, so getting involved by contributing one’s time and talents is a way to make a real difference in the quality of this wonderful community asset,” said Bolthouse.
“This gala [was a] friend raiser and a fundraiser. There are entire swaths of the community who still don’t know about us,” said Matarese, who encouraged others to join or inquire about volunteer opportunities at the garden.
“Our volunteer team is noted for its camaraderie and joyful work. We have a diverse menu of volunteer opportunities and invite others to join us,” she said.  
For more information about the Water Conservation Garden, go to www.thegarden.org.

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