Volunteers sought for tending the gardens for Park Centennial

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SAN DIEGO — Organizers of a Balboa Park centennial celebration planned for next year in San Diego said Wednesday they have started an Adopt-a-Plot program, in which organizations can volunteer to work on one of the park’s 29 gardens.

Michael Ruiz, who is leading the planning for the centennial for the city of San Diego, said volunteer groups can maintain and improve the gardens better than the city because of staffing issues.

At a meeting of the City Council’s Environment Committee, Ruiz said that so far, nearly half of the park’s gardens have been adopted by groups like the Friends of Balboa Park, the Mission Hills Garden Club and Sage Landscaping. He said 15 more sponsors are needed.

“It’ll provide an opportunity for community involvement, not just for next year, but beyond,” Ruiz said.

He hopes the sponsoring organization will continue working in the gardens after the centennial is over.

More information on adopting a garden is available online.

Ruiz took over planning for the park’s 100th anniversary five months ago, after a group that had been setting up the celebration disbanded.

The city plans to use the annual December Nights holiday festival to bookend the yearlong celebration and put on two other major events in the spring and summer.

Ruiz told the committee members that the spring event would involve gardening and include demonstrations, tours and other gardening information. He said the “Garden Party for the Century” would run from Arbor Day, April 24, through May 9.

The city is also banking on the park’s museums and other cultural institutions to enhance the centennial by hosting special exhibitions. Among other things, the San Diego Natural History Museum will host a major exhibit on King Tutankhamun, beginning next month and running well into next year.

He said that he has attended nearly 200 meetings about the centennial since he took the job five months ago, and looked over more than 100 proposals from individuals and groups. He said it’s not too late for people with good ideas to submit proposals to him.

The city dates Balboa Park back to the 1915 California-Panama Exhibition, which brought national and international attention to San Diego.


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