A lot has changed since last year, when Arlington Garden in Pasadena was named Nonprofit of the Year for the state’s 25th senate district, but even during the pandemic, Pasadena’s only public garden continues to provide a natural oasis in the middle of the city.
The ongoing pandemic prevented the garden from hosting a planned gala to mark it’s 15th anniversary, but online events and a fundraiser garnered well over $100,000 for the nonprofit, Arlington Garden Executive Director Michelle Matthews said.
The garden at 275 Arlington Drive remains open six days a week. It’s closed for maintenance on Tuesdays. Visitors are urged to maintain 6 feet of distance from other guests, wear face coverings and bring hand sanitizer.
“The garden has been open for the most part during the pandemic,” Matthews said. “We closed a few days for maintenance and we have been closing on Tuesdays for maintenance. Depending on how things go with COVID-19 in the winter, we’ll see if we’ll continue to keep the garden closed on Tuesdays, but we have been resuming volunteer activities and volunteer training with our director of horticulture.”
At a particularly stressful and uncertain time, many people have been coming to the garden for respite, Matthews said. She’s one of them.
“We don’t have any official numbers, but we do think that there have been more visitors to the garden,” she said. “It seems like people are using the garden. I’ve been using the garden. I don’t have a backyard, so going to the garden during the stay-at-home orders has been very helpful to my mental health and wellbeing.”
The garden’s designer, Mayito Dinos, agreed.
“People need to be able to go to a place that is a sanctuary. In this particular situation of COVID and political unrest and everything, you need to be able to go and find a respite and go someplace where you can sit and notice things that you wouldn’t notice otherwise,” she said. “You need that moment of getting away from it all.”
The 3-acre garden is divided into regions reflecting local natural habitats. They include oak grove, meadow, citrus grove, Mediterranean, seasonal wash, desert and coastal sage scrub.
“My feeling at the time was this is going to be kind of like an outdoor series of rooms for the neighborhood,” Dinos said.
The garden was named Nonprofit of the Year by State Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-Glendale.
Looking forward, Matthews said she still hoped to be able to gather for an in-person “sweet 15” celebration in the near future.
The garden sells marmalade, made from its own oranges, to support the project, she said. The marmalade is available for sale at Vroman’s Bookstore and Jones Coffee Roasters
In the meantime, the garden was working on increasing its online presence, she said. “We might do a virtual tour.”
Dinos said she hoped to expand the garden’s community education offerings in the months ahead.
More information on Arlington Garden is available online at arlingtongardenpasadena.com.