Venice's Garden Tour This Weekend

Wednesday, 4 May 2011, 2:57:00 AM

Bailey Jones

Video by Spencer Lee
The Venice Home and Garden Tour prepares for this weekend's annual event.

This weekend 30 enchanting homes and gardens will be open to the public for the 18th annual Venice Home and Garden Tour. This walking tour and benefit showcases the many ways in which homeowners, architects, and landscape designers use creativity to create oases in their living spaces, utilizing everything from koi ponds and citrus trees to large metal giraffes, live chickens, and bunnies.

Landscape designer Jay Griffith and community leaders Linda Lucks and Jan Brillot started the tour to benefit the Neighborhood Youth Association’s Las Doradas Children’s Center in Venice. The center, established in 1991, provides full-time, education-based childcare to low income, working families, and gives at-risk children guidance and support. In it’s first year, the tour raised around $1,000, and in recent years it has grossed an estimated $250,000 annually.

Last year, hundreds of homeowners, volunteers, architects, and designers took part in this fundraising event, along with more than 2,000 tour-goers, to be inspired by unique design and to meet the Venice community. Event producer Barbara Baumann expects nothing less for the 2011 tour, and explains that every year a different neighborhood is featured to keep the tour fresh.

“This year is a really great mix from traditional bungalows, to a contemporary take of a surf shack and everything in between,” Baumann said. “I have a family from the East Coast, they plan their trip to this area the beginning of May because the family loves going on the tour… We couldn’t keep them coming every year if we keep the same homes every year.”

The 2011 self-guided tour is in the Walk Streets neighborhood east of Abbot Kinney Boulevard, as well as streets south of Venice Boulevard in the Coeur d’ Alene neighborhood. Homes by architects Barbara Bestor, Tom Carson, Talbot McLanahan, Tim Peterson, and Robert Thibodeau are featured, as well as gardens designed by Jay Griffith, Pamela Burton, Naomi Saunders, and Diana Zok, plus many more.

The tour focuses on the southern California indoor/outdoor lifestyle. In its inception, the tour was originally only a garden tour, but because so many of the featured exteriors also function as living rooms and kitchens, the tour changed to include homes as well. “It’s all connected and related,” Baumann said.

History runs rich in this year’s tour. The Lennon Sister’s home will be featured along with the homes of an early Mayor and early postmaster of Venice, and a home that was originally a metal foundry, creating art for well-known artists. Several old Venice complexes are featured on the tour, including the home of Jeff Bridge’s character “The Dude” in the 1998 film “The Big Lebowski.”

The tour will begin at 10 a.m. at the Las Doradas Children’s Center in Venice, located at 804 Broadway on the corner of Broadway Street and Pleasant View Avenue, and will continue until 5 p.m. Participants may begin the tour at any time after 10 a.m., but the event producers suggest tour-goers allot at least a couple of hours to see as much of the tour as possible.

Tickets are $60 when purchased in advance, and $70 if purchased the day of the event. The tour will continue – rain or shine – and tickets are non-refundable. Children under the age of 12 are admitted free. Neighborhood parking and shuttle buses are available, as well as food stands and trucks. Please note that no dogs or strollers are allowed on the tour.

For tickets or additional information please call 310.821.1857 or visit venicegardentour.org. For more information on the Neighborhood Youth Association visit nyayouth.org.

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