Water Conservation Garden

WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN CLOSES AMID RESTRUCTURING

Will the Grossmont-Cuymaca Community College District or the Water Conservation Garden Joint Powers Authority step in to operate the Garden?

By Miriam Raftery

February 16, 2024 (Rancho San Diego) – The Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College, a treasured community destination, has closed temporarily amid efforts to reorganize under new leadership.

“As we celebrate our 25th anniversary this year, we will be undergoing major structural changes,” interim executive director Lauren Magnuson announced in an email sent to media and supporters of the Garden. “A reopening date will be announced in the future...The Garden is committed to reopening and continuing its mission to educate and inspire the community to promote water conservation,” she concluded, adding, “We look forward to welcoming you back soon with a renewed and thriving Water Conservation Garden experience!”

The temporary closure announcement follows months of financial concerns stemming primarily from large loans taken out by the Garden’s former director, Jennifer Pillsbury, during and after COVID.


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FREE LECTURE ON FIRE-WISE LANDSCAPING AT THE WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN

East County News Service

February 8, 2024 (El Cajon) -- California's landscape will always be characterized by wildfires, making homes and properties vulnerable to their impacts. A key component of wildfire preparedness involves proper placement and maintenance of the vegetation surrounding the home. Understanding how fires approach a house and potential vulnerabilities is critical for designing fire-resilient landscapes.

In this presentation, Tuesday, February 13 at 10 a.m., there will be discussion on the key concepts of defensible space and home hardening strategies necessary to create a fire-resilient but aesthetically pleasing landscape. 


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WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN CUTS STAFFING; JPA MEMBERS BALK AT REQUEST TO BOOST FUNDING

JPA to discuss options in a closed-door meeting with legal counsel

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left:  Dr. Michael Hager, President, Friends of the Water Conservation Garden, and Lauren Magnuson, Interim Director of the Garden

January 30, 2024 (El Cajon) – Friends of the Water Conservation Garden and the garden’s new interim director, Lauren Magnuson, made impassioned pleas at a January 23 meeting,  asking the Joint Powers Authority (JPA) to allocate additional funds through June to help alleviate a financial crisis.

The Water Conservation Garden is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Magnuson. said, “We supported the community during the pandemic. Now we are hoping that the community will support us.”

The Garden has over $1 million in financial obligations, including large loans taken out during the pandemic and some smaller grant funds slated to be returned. Questions have been raised by the JPA over years of inaccurate record-keeping practices and borrowing by Friends to cover the Garden’s operating expenses, among other concerns.

“The Garden has significantly cut our monthly budget by more than half,” Magnuson told ECM in an interview earlier this month. “We unfortunately had to furlough a good portion of our staff and lean on current staff to absorb those furloughed positions.” She has pledged full transparency and open communication with staff and volunteers, scrambling to pull together financial records and options to help the garden grow and thrive in the future—though the task is daunting.


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WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN TO RUN OUT OF MONEY SOON; EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RESIGNS AMID FINANCIAL TURMOIL

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College

Updated January 8, 2024 with comments from Dr. Michael Hager regarding Jennifer Pillsbury's resignation.

December 20, 2023 (Rancho San Diego)--The Water Conservation Garden will run out of money as early as mid-December, the nonprofit organization Friends of The Water Conservation Garden (Friends) stated at an October 24 meeting of the Water Conservation Garden Joint Powers Authority (JPA),  the consortium of public utility and governmental entities that oversees the Friends.

The Friends group had not been able to put together a financial status report for a substantial period of time. When the bookkeeping problems were finally resolved in September, they realized they were going to run out of money in December, Friends informed the JPA. JPA members voiced frustration and peppered representatives of Friends and the Garden with pointed questions over the financial situation,  including controversy over loans secured by Friends that JPA members said they were not informed about.


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FALL GARDEN FESTIVAL NOVEMBER 5 HAS PLANTS GALORE AND MORE

East County News Service

November 2, 2022 (Rancho San Diego) – The Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College in Rancho San Diego invites you to its Fall Garden Festival and annual plant sale on Saturday, November 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 


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FREE TREES AND DONUTS APRIL 23 AT THE GARDEN

East County News Service

April 9, 2022 (Rancho San Diego) – In honor of San Diego Tree Week, the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College in Rancho San Diego will be giving away free trees and donuts on a first-come, first-serve basis.


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FALL GARDEN FESTIVAL NOV. 13 AT THE WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN

East County News Service

November 10, 2021 (El Cajon) -- Beauty abounds at The Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College in Rancho San Diego, where the Fall Garden Festival will be held on November 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  The event includes fall plant sales, educational talks, and tours to help you get planting for the season.


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BUTTERFLY RELEASES RETURN TO WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN IN MAY AND JUNE

East County News Service

May 5, 2021 (El Cajon) – Butterfly season is back.  The Water Conservation Garden invites you to release your very own butterfly each Saturday in May and June from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at its Dorcas E. Utter Butterfly Pavilion and Native Habitat Garden.


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THE WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN REOPENS FOR PUBLIC ACTIVITIES

Story and photos by Alexa Oslowski

Click to view a video tour by Angela Kurysh including full interview with Pam  Meisner, or view the embedded video below this story.

April 24, 2021 (El Cajon) - The Water Conservation Garden, a beautiful and serene East County treasure located on Cuyamaca College’s campus, is open to the public for educational and recreational enjoyment.

The Garden hosts events for people of all ages. Adults can enjoy outdoor yoga classes, educational workshops and online seminars. Children can spend time with Ms. Smarty-Plants, a character created by the Director of Operations Pam Meisner.


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VALHALLA STUDENT HONORED AS ONE OF SAN DIEGO’S MOST REMARKABLE TEENS

East County News Service
 
August 25, 2020 (El Cajon, CA) — Amelie Simpson, a junior at Valhalla High School, has been named one of San Diego’s most remarkable teens. The award, presented annually by the San Diego Public Defender’s Office and the San Diego Public Defender Youth Council, honors teen accomplishments in a wide range of categories, including civic involvement, leadership, and the arts.
 
Nominated by the Mitchell Thorp Foundation, Simpson is one of 25 teens recognized this year for their achievements. Beth Thorp, founder and executive director of the Mitchell Thorp Foundation, recommended Simpson for the award saying, “While Amelie’s musical abilities standout publicly, the majority of her other accomplishments, especially her dedication to community service and academic excellence go unnoticed because of her humility.”           
 
The East County teen is a singer and songwriter, who performs at venues throughout San Diego, including the House of Blues, the San Diego County Fair, Grossmont Center, and the Helix Brewing Company. Ron Troyano, founder of Alchemy San Diego, who manages events for Seaport Village said, ”We feature music from many local performers and one of our favorites is Amelie Simpson, a true talent.”

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WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN REOPENS IN MID-JUNE: BUTTERFLY RELEASES PLANNED

East County News Service
 
June 11, 2020 (El Cajon) -- As of June 15, The Water Conservation Garden reopens for members and reopens to the public on June 16, but with a small admission fee for non-members. All visitors in June will receive free ice cream and popsicles, as well as having the opportunity to visit the Dorcas E. Utter Memorial Butterfly Pavilion to view butterflies throughout June. Butterfly release dates are planned June 15, 19 and 27.

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HOLIDAY GIFT SHOPPE SALE AT THE GARDEN DEC. 7

East County News Service

 

November 26, 2019 (Rancho San Diego) - Looking for a little something special for that special someone? Drop by the Water Conservation Garden’s annual Holiday Gift Shoppe Sale on Saturday, Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to find wonderful whimsical gifts for your special gardener or garden aficionado.

 


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20TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT NOV. 16 BENEFITS WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN

East County News Service

September 11, 2019 (El Cajon) -- Since 1999, The Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College has been at the forefront of saving water and other natural resources. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the Garden is hosting a benefit concert on Saturday, November 16th. 


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STARGAZING, WAGS AND WINE, RAINWATER HARVESTING AND MORE AT THE GARDEN THIS SUMMER

East County News Service

 

July 5, 2019 (El Cajon) – The Water Conservation Garden has a variety of fun and educational events coming up in July and August, including:

 

  • Garden yoga July 8
  • Wags & Wine July 10
  • Stargazing July 10
  • Landscapes, irrigation and soils July 16
  • Rainwater harvesting July 20
  • Gregory Page Trio concert July 27
  • Creepy crawly critters August 23

Learn more and register for these events at www.thegarden.org.


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CANDIDATES TURN OUT AT POLITICS IN PARADISE

 

 

Photos:  East County Chamber President Eric Lutz and three fresh faces running for local offices:  Laura Koval for Santee City Council, Teresa Rosiak-Profitt for both Lemon Grove Council and Grossmont-Cuyamaca school board, and Jeff Griffith for State Senate.

By Miriam Raftery

September 1, 2018 (El Cajon)—Some 20 candidates and public officials flocked to “Politics in Paradise” hosted by several local chambers of commerce Thursday night at the Water Conservation Garden.

This year, the format did not include a panel discussion or questions, but rather guests had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with candidates. Each candidate also had 30 seconds to introduce themselves, with moderator Barry Jantz indicating any who ran over would get the “hook.”  Most gave just the basics – name, what they’re running for and how to find them – though a few managed to get some zingers in.


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GREGORY PAGE TRIO CONCERT JULY 28

 

Saturday, July 28, 6-8:30 p.m.

East County News Service

July 10, 2018 (El Cajon) - The Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College welcomes back the Gregory Page Trio for a summer concert on Saturday, July 28 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Gregory will capture your heart with his engaging lyrics and soothing melodies reminiscent of the 1920’s sweet jazz era.

Click HERE for more information and to purchase tickets.


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SIPS AND SUCCULENTS TOUR: JUNE 27 AT THE GARDEN

 

East County News Service

June 8, 2018 (Rancho San Diego) -- The Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College invites you to “Sips and Succulents” on Wednesday, June 27 from 6 to 7 p.m.

Enjoy a summer evening garden tour. Go Green- and bring your own glass to fill with wine and maybe even succulents! Docent Kathryn Clayton shares some of her favorite gardening and design tips with succulents.

Members $10, Non-Members $15

Register HERE


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WAGS AND WINE JUNE 19 AT THE WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN

 

East County News Service

June 8, 2018 (Rancho San Diego) – The dog days of summer are here – with “Wags and Wine” on Tuesday, June 19 from 5 to 7 p.m.  You’re invited to bring your furry friend for a special evening stroll through the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College in Rancho San Diego.


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THE GARDEN HOSTING CUSTOMER APPRECIATION DAY ON MAY 19

 

Source: Helix Water District

May 9, 2018 (Rancho San Diego) -- The award-winning Water Conservation Garden will host Customer Appreciation Day on Saturday,    May 19, for customers of Helix Water District, the City of San Diego, Otay Water District and Sweetwater Authority.


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WINTER GARDEN CARE: LEARN PROPER PRUNING JAN. 14

 

Source: Water Conservation Garden

January 2, 2017 (Rancho San Diego) – Caring for your landscape in winter leads to thriving spring gardens.  On Saturday, January 14 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College will offer a class titled “Winter Garden Care: Proper Pruning Practices.”


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PLANTSTRAVAGANZA AT WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN

 

East County News Service

September 15, 2016 (El Cajon) - The Water Conservation Garden celebrates the fall planting season with the 2016 Fall Plantstravaganza! on Saturday, November 5 from 10am to 2pm, with a special members-only preview sale from 9am to 10am.   Garden memberships may be purchased at the gate.


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WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN HOSTS FREE CUSTOMER APPRECIATON DAY JULY 31 FOR HELIX WATER AND SWEETWATER AUTHORITY RATEPAYERS

East County News Service

July 27, 2016 (Rancho San Diego) – The Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College will host a free Customer Appreciation Day for Helix Water and Sweetwater Authority customers on Sunday, July 31 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Discover different varieties of drought-tolerant plants, learn how to "Toss the Turf" and get inspiration on how to incorporate water-wise gardening into your own garden. Plus you can enjoy free activities including docent-led garden tours, tips on butterfly gardening, veggie growing,soils and native habitat, meet Ms. Smarty-Plants, watch a butterfly release, savor free shaved ice, and get discounts on gift shop items.  See full schedule of events below.


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THE WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN INVITES HELIX WATER DISTRICT CUSTOMERS TO CUSTOMER APPRECIATION DAY

 

East County News Service

 

July 20, 2016 (East County) – The Water Conservation Garden, a six-acre conservation demonstration garden in El Cajon, will host a customer appreciation day for customers of the Helix Water District. This free event will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, July 31. The Water Conservation Garden is at 12122 Cuyamaca College Drive West, adjacent to Cuyamaca Community College, in El Cajon’s Rancho San Diego area.


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MAY 14 BUTTERFLY FESTIVAL LAUNCHES RETURN OF SAN DIEGO'S BUTTERFLY SEASON

 

 

Butterfly Pavilion Will Be Open through July 31

East County News Service

May 7, 2016 (El Cajon) -- The Water Conservation Garden invites the public to its third-annual Butterfly Festival on Saturday, May 14 for an exciting day of activities that will engage all ages with butterflies. The event highlights the important role these insects play in the ecosystem as well as how visitors can attract and support butterflies in their home gardens using drought-tolerant plants. A large selection of native milkweed plants will be on sale.


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GARDEN GALA ENCHANTS EAST COUNTY

 

Water Conservation Garden Hosts Second Annual Flagship Fundraiser

By Reema Makani Boccia

October 31, 2015 (Rancho San Diego)--The Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon wowed attendees at its second annual “Enchanted Garden Gala” on Saturday, October 17 with an evening filled with delectable food and captivating entertainment all while supporting the East County institution. The event theme ‘Water – More Precious Than Gold’ was prevalent throughout the event, particularly striking a note with California’s current drought.


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PLANTSRAVAGANZA! WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN HOSTS FALL PLANT SALE NOV. 7

 

Planstravaganza! Among San Diego County’s Most Diverse Water-Wise Plant Sales; Vendors, Professional Consultations Available

 

October 29, 2015 (Rancho San Diego)--The Water Conservation Garden is hosting its annual Fall Planstravaganza! on Saturday, November 7 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to help San Diegans make the most of the region’s fall-to-spring planting season and save water while they do it.

The event boasts the most diverse drought-tolerant plant sale in San Diego County. Retailers and growers will sell shrubs, trees, perennials, succulents and more, making the event one-stop shopping for fall and winter gardening essentials.  Plants that get planted during the mild San Diego fall planting season will reward gardeners with strong root systems that allow the plants to establish to their potential by the spring, particularly with this year’s upcoming El Nino. 


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THE GARDEN HOSTED 'THE MISSION CONTINUES' PLATOON ON 9/11

 

San Diego Military Veterans Volunteer at Garden As Part of National Service Project

September 12, 2015 (El Cajon)--The Water Conservation Garden proudly hosted more than a dozen military veterans from The Mission Continues as part of a national veterans service day on September 11. The volunteers planted trees in one of The Garden’s newest exhibits, the Native Habitat Garden.


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MUSICAL OUTPOURING

 

 

By Jaime Mirman

August 13, 2015 (Rancho San Diego)--The San Diego Concert Band and The Water Conservation Garden presented An Evening of Music in the Garden last July 26th. Coincidentally, the Band is celebrating its 26th season this year, and their program immersed the listeners into an exciting display of treasured songs, rousing marches and gripping contemporary pieces.

The annual event took place for the third year at the amphitheater in the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College, which proved to be a visually and acoustically effective environment for the performance. As expected, San Diego Concert Band delivered its interpretations with gusto, thunder and finesse. Their care and dedication succeed as a most welcome musical contribution to our community.


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AN EVENING OF MUSIC AT THE GARDEN: SAN DIEGO CONCERT BAND JULY 26

 

Hear our interview on KNSJ radio: https://www.eastcountymagazine.org/sites/eastcountymagazine.org/files/au...

By Miriam Raftery

July 9, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – If you’re looking for a stirring summertime musical experience, the San Diego Concert Band will be performing at the Water Conservation Garden on the campus of Cuyamaca College on July 26th at 6 p.m.  “An Evening of Music at the Garden” will benefit both of these nonprofit organizations. (Guests are welcome to come early for a stroll through the gardens to learn some tips on how to have beautiful low-water gardens.)

Recently, the East County Magazine Show sat down with Chuck Brown, President of the San Diego Concert Band, and John Bolthouse, Director of the Water Conservation Garden, for an interview on the East County Magazine Show on KNSJ radio.

Audio: 


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WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN ANNOUNCES JULY CLASSES & ACTIVITIES

 

East County News Service

July 10, 2015 (Rancho San Diego)—From “dog days” strolls with your canine companion to classes on turf-tossing and glass-making, a stargazing party, a wine walk and an evening of music with the San Diego Concert Band, the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College has a wealth of enriching activities and events coming up later in July.

Here are highlights:


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