Light-Hearted End-of-Summer Party Marks Arlington Garden’s Sweet 16th Birthday

Published on Sep 27, 2021

A gathering at Pasadena’s only public garden, the botanical and arboreal oasis of native and Mediterranean plantings called Arlington Garden, celebrated the Garden’s 16th birthday and honored former Pasadena City Manager Don McIntyre and his wife, Nancy, with the inaugural McKenney Family Arlington Garden Award.


The current and a former mayor, several city councilmembers — including one of the Garden’s original muses, Councilmember Steve Madison — joined a group of civic luminaries and neighbors for the party. 


Arlington Garden founders Betty and Charles McKenney and designer Mayita Dinos were inspired by Jan Smithen’s book “Sun-Drenched Gardens: Mediterranean Style” when they started the Garden in 2005. They wanted to create a water-wise garden that thrives in Southern California’s Mediterranean climate, and to show how beautiful and practical a well-planned, climate-appropriate and community-built garden can be.


As it is now, Arlington Garden is not only friendly to people and pets but also serves as a refuge for Pasadena’s native fauna. Birds, bees and butterflies are particularly abundant and can be seen throughout the year.


“We are proud that instead of a freeway, we built a garden,” said Michelle Matthews, garden executive director. “Fifteen years ago, we were the early adopters of regenerative gardening and we are an excellent example of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers watershed concept of landscape design. We are a landmark of healthy habitat and living soil, grown from a denuded empty lot that sat dormant for almost 45 years.”


In 2019, Arlington Garden, a nonprofit organization, was selected by state Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-Pasadena, as Senate District 25’s Nonprofit of the Year.


The garden is also well known for its sweet orange marmalade, made from Washington navel oranges grown in the garden and canned locally by E. Waldo Ward. The marmalade is sold at area retailers including Armstrong Garden Center, Jones Coffee and Vroman’s Bookstore.

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