Exploring nature’s wonders
Posted March 31, 2006
Lindsey Gooding
Tatyana Kennedy, 3, enjoys blowing bubbles at the seventh annual Gardenfest, hosted by La Verne Parks and Community Services Department and the Hillcrest Homes community. Parents and children participated in various activities, in an effort to teach children how plants grow. The event was held at the Hillcrest Homes Saturday morning.

In partnership with the La Verne Parks and Community Services Department, Hillcrest’s senior citizens hosted Gardenfest an intergenerational event on Saturday morning at Hillcrest Homes.

Children blew bubbles, decorated the sidewalk with chalk, toured the gardens and planted flowers at the seventh annual Gardenfest as an Easter bunny pranced around and paused for snapshots.

Gardenfest was an opportunity for children to have a first lesson in botany.

“These days, who has time for gardening?” said Carla Sullivan, the event coordinator.

“This teaches the kids where plants come from, besides Vons.”

The bubble booth was one of the main attractions. Children enthusiastically blew bubbles and watched intently as they disappeared in the air.

“She loved planting the flower but I think her favorite was the bubbles,” said Sherri Toy, who attended the event with her daughter Lydia for the first time.

Face painting was a major attraction as well. Children waited impatiently in line to get long-desired intricate designs painted on their cheeks.

At the Orchard Supply Hardware booth, children planted Marigolds and other flowers in flowerpots.

“I liked planting little flowers,” said younger attendant Yasmine Farah.

Children designed Easter cards and etched in moldable ceramic pieces, to be later baked and given back to the children. Teenagers added their burst of energy to the event as well.

“I like to see all the families come together and have fun,” said Steven Barros, a high school volunteer from Redlands.

During the garden tours, Hillcrest residents showcased their garden plots and gave children a crash course in gardening.

Merrel Waysack identified plants and explained how they grew as he toured the children around the garden plots. David Stroup displayed his garden of cabbage, broccoli, turnips, cauliflower, peppers, snap peas, green onions and tomatoes.

The garden tour was five-year-old Eloise Tapia’s favorite attraction.
“There were pretty fruits and vegetables,” Tapia said. “I recognized the strawberries. I saw a little red on them.”

Court Coleman and his garden of 50 roses, narcissus, poppies and other flowers greeted the children and their parents during the garden tour.

Crushed chili pepper was sprinkled on the ground to keep raccoons from digging up the flowers.

“The only way I could keep raccoons from digging up plants was with red peppers,” Coleman said.

A lemon tree grows in one of the plots, reminding the senior citizens of the citrus groves that once inhabited the Hillcrest property. Several members from the Foothill Vineyard Church volunteered at the Gardenfest.

“We just called the city and said, ‘We want to volunteer. What do you have for us to do?’”said Debra Walters, Foothill Vineyard Church volunteer.

After finishing Rick Warren's book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” the church is completing 40 days of community service.

“We want to reach out to people with love,” said Claire LaCombe, a volunteer from Foothill Vineyard Church.

Mudshack and Orchard Supply Hardware were major sponsors of the event.

Yelena Ovcharenko can be reached at yovcharenko@ulv.edu.

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