Flower shows, butterfly contests: Things to do in LA in March


February tends to fool us … it starts like a regular winter month and then suddenly, poof, it’s March, closing in on spring and high time to start planning and prepping our SoCal summer gardens.

So don’t be put off by this recent cold snap. Hot weather is definitely coming, so this is the time to start deciding what vegetables you’re going to plant this year. Tomatoes are at the top of most gardeners’ lists — and for them the big question is, “How many varieties can I squeeze in this year?” Tomatomania’s roving pop-up sales of more than 200 varieties of tomatoes and 100 varieties of peppers start this weekend and continue around Southern California into April.

And for newbie gardeners, the Los Angeles County UC Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardeners program is offering classes in growing vegetable gardens at 13 locations around L.A. The classes, part of the Grow LA Vegetable Garden Initiative, are designed to help beginners learn how to start a vegetable garden in containers, yards or community garden plots. Most of the classes are a mix of online and in-person sessions (called “hybrid” classes) and cost $55 or $25, depending on what students can afford. Each session has four classes offered over four weeks. Dates vary, with sessions starting in March or April.

The hybrid classes in Northridge are already full, but others are being offered at the Brewery Artists Lofts in Lincoln Heights, Columbia Park Community Garden in Torrance, East Hollywood Community Garden, the Farm at Fairplex in Pomona, Firehouse Community Farm and Santa Fe Community Garden, both in Long Beach; Fountain Community Garden in Hollywood, Grow LA Vegetable Garden in Boyle Heights and Monrovia FoodEd. Two other sessions, at Burbank/Glendale and Ishihara Community Garden, are only offered online. You can register or get more information online.

In the meantime, we’re approaching prime bloom time for many flowers, so make a point of visiting a botanic garden — Descanso Gardens, for instance, is offering tours of some of its most beautiful blooming areas on March 12, and its pollinator’s garden on March 26. And if you love exotic flowers, don’t miss the last of this year’s camellia shows Feb. 26-27 or the clivia show March 12-13 — the first since the pandemic began two years ago.

Email garden- and plant-related events to jeanette.marantos@latimes.com at least three weeks before they happen, and we might include them in the calendar.

Through May 31
The first Butterfly Garden Contest for gardens in southwest Riverside County, sponsored by the Santa Margarita Group of the San Gorgonio chapter of the Sierra Club. Gardens should include California native nectar plants for adult butterflies and host plants for the caterpillars (based on information on the California Native Plant Society’s calscape.com database under the “butterflies” tab). Gardens must be in the communities of Canyon Lake, Hemet, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Murrieta, Perris, Temecula, Wildomar or Winchester and will be evaluated in four categories, ranging from extra small (25 square feet or less, including container gardens) to gardens larger than 125 square feet. Gardens will be judged on their overall beauty and functionality for all local butterflies; to be eligible, they must be primarily composed of native plants. It’s free to enter. Winners will be announced June 10, with prizes ranging from $50 to $125, depending on garden size. Visit the website for entry forms and information. sierraclub.org/san-gorgonio/santa-margarita

Feb. 25-March 6
Tomatomania! at Roger’s Gardens, 2301 San Joaquin Hills Road in Corona del Mar, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. This is Tomatomania’s first event of the 2022 tomato growing season, offering more than 100 varieties of peppers and 250 varieties of heirloom and hybrid tomato plants. rogersgardens.com

Feb. 26
California Botanic Garden and Grow Native Nursery reopens after a severe windstorm felled more than 70 trees on Jan. 21. The garden and nursery were closed so the trees and fallen branches could be safely removed and other debris cleaned off the trails. The garden will resume its normal hours, open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays, and closed on Mondays. At present, the nursery is only open on Feb. 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but additional dates will be announced in the future. Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate for $10 ($6 for seniors 65+ and students with ID, $3 for ages 3-12. Children under 3 and members enter free.) calbg.org

Feb. 26-27
Southern California Camellia Council 62nd Spring Camellia Show at Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 26 and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 27. This show is a joint event involving the region’s four camellia societies in Kern and San Diego counties, as well as the Pacific Camellia Society and the Southern California Camellia Society. The general public may enter camellia blooms for judging from 7 to 10:30 a.m. Feb. 26. The show is free to visitors after $15 admission to the gardens ($11 for seniors 65 and older and students with ID, $5 for children ages 5-12. Members and children under age 5 enter free). Masks are required indoors. socalcamelliasociety.org

March 5-6
Tomatomania! at Mission Hills Nursery, 1525 Fort Stockton Drive in San Diego, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. This is Tomatomania’s second event of the 2022 tomato growing season, offering more than 100 varieties of peppers and 250 varieties of heirloom and hybrid tomato plants. missionhillsnursery.com

March 11-12
Tomatomania! at Otto & Sons Nursery, 1835 E. Guiberson Road in Fillmore, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. SoCal’s renowned rose nursery makes room for Tomatomania’s more than 200 tomato heirloom and hybrid plants and some 100 varieties of peppers. ottoandsonsnursery.com

March 11-13
Tomatomania! at Fig Earth Supply, 3577 N. Figueroa St., in Mount Washington, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. figearthsupply.com

March 12
Spring Bloom Tours at Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive, in La Cañada Flintridge, at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., take a guided walking tour to see what’s blooming. Reservations aren’t necessary; just meet at the Center Circle. Free with $15 admission to the gardens ($11 seniors 65 and older and students with ID, $5 ages 5-12. Members and children under age 5 enter free). descansogardens.org

March 12-13
19th Clivia Show & Sale presented by the Southern California Chapter of the North American Clivia Society, at the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road, in San Marino, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Society members will have more than 200 plants on display along with unusual varieties of clivias available for purchase. Visitors can also cast their votes for the show’s “People’s Choice” award. The show is free with $29 admission to the Huntington ($24 for seniors 65+, active military and students with ID and $13 for ages 4-11. Members and children under 4 enter free.) huntington.org

March 13
South Coast Cactus & Succulent Society presents a free, in-person talk by succulent expert Woody Minnich about the cactuses and succulents of New Mexico from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Peninsula Center Library Community Room, 701 Silver Spur Road, in Rolling Hills Estates. Minnich grew up in the Mojave Desert and now lives in New Mexico. This is the society’s first in-person event since the COVID shutdowns in March 2020; please check the website for any last-minute changes. southcoastcss.org

March 18-20
San Diego Orchid Society Annual International Spring Show and Sale at the Scottish Rite Center, 1895 Camino Del Rio South, in San Diego, from 3 to 7 p.m. on March 18, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on March 19 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 20. The show will include four orchid classes on March 19 and four on March 20 on topics such as caring for a new orchid purchase, reblooming an orchid, repotting an orchid and orchids to grow outdoors. The society will also have free printed materials about orchids available to take home, including care sheets for each of a dozen different type of orchids. Admission is $10 for one day or $12 for the weekend. Children under 12 enter for free. sdorchids.com

Tomatomania! at Tapia Bros. Farm, 5251 Hayvenhurst, in Encino, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. facebook.com/tapiabrosfarm/

March 19, 29 and April 2
Three-part native bee workshop led by community scientist and photographer Krystle Hickman at the Theodore Payne Foundation nursery, 10459 Tuxford St., in Sun Valley, on March 19 and 29 and a private garden in Altadena on April 2, from 1 to 3 p.m. each day. Hickman will discuss how to identify and photograph native bees, their relationships to native plants and how to garden for native bees. Workshops will be held both indoors and outdoors and are limited to 15 people. Participants should prepare for walking on steep, uneven surfaces and dress in layers as the classroom windows will be open for ventilation. Participants must provide proof they are fully vaccinated or show a negative COVID-19 PCR test result and wear a mask while indoors. Register online, $150 ($130 for Theodore Payne Foundation members). eventbrite.com

March 20
Spring Equinox Herb Hike at Taft Gardens in Ojai, from 8:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., led by Ojai naturalist Lanny Kaufer of HerbWalks.com and author of “Medicinal Herbs of California.” Kaufer will point out the medicinal and edible plants along trails in the uncultivated parts of the Taft Gardens Nature Preserve. Advance registration is required. Tickets are $60. taftgardens.org

March 25-27
Tomatomania! at Underwood Family Farms Moorpark Farm Center, 3370 Sunset Valley Road, in Moorpark, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. tomatomania.com

March 26
Spring Celebration at Descanso Gardens includes tours of the pollinator garden and the new nursery as well the native milkweed and other plants the gardens are growing to support pollinators, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1418 Descanso Drive in La Cañada Flintridge. Tours are scheduled in English at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and a tour in Spanish is scheduled for 1 p.m. The event also includes informational tables staffed by the garden’s partner organizations — Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Latino Outdoors, Arroyos and Foothill Conservancy, California Native Plant Society, Theodore Payne Foundation and Kidspace Children’s Museum, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. All activities are free with $15 admission ($11 for seniors 65 and older and students with ID and $5 for ages 5-12. Members and children under age 5 enter free). descansogardens.org