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DIRT THERAPY By Marianne Taylor
DIRT THERAPY By Marianne Taylor

By Marianne Taylor

“April showers bring May flowers” was once the childhood song sung by many in the past as spring approached. The song’s lyrics clearly no longer apply to Southern California. Welcome to our new normal—coming to terms with Mother Nature and our arid environment.

Gov. Brown a few weeks ago called us to action once again to reduce our water use by 25 percent. Many of us already reduced 25 percent of our water use last year, and now we’re being asked to reduce another 25 percent this year. What do we do as homeowners to tackle this no-water landscape? Is there life without lawn? Are we capable of creating beautiful landscapes without water or with less water use? Where will the children play? How do we keep up and manage this new landscape? So many concerns, where to begin?

Your search for information is over. The answers to these questions and more will be provided at a free event May 2 and 3—the Eco Garden Expo in Los Rios Park, located in historic downtown San Juan Capistrano. The two-day event, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., will equip, empower and guide you in choosing the right landscape for your home, saving you time, money and water.

During the event, visitors can listen to numerous environmental and landscape experts share their ideas, concepts and designs supporting this new arid environment. Learn how to create beauty in the garden with a variety of California-friendly plants, or create a landscape that is completely edible and get your daily five servings of veggies. Learn the importance of bees in the garden as a friend and not a foe. Throw away those nasty pesticides, and let the beneficial insects do the work and reduce your weeds by eating them for dinner.

The expo offers 50 fabulous exhibitors bringing you the best in products, plants and produce, along with artisan wares. Visit the numerous demonstration gardens and talk to the experts on incorporating these landscape ideas in your garden, and enjoy hands-on workshops creating a flower headband or bouquet. Hanson’s Market will recreate a mini market and café inside the park offering organic and fresh meals, snacks and healthy drinks.

The Eco Garden Expo is the brainchild of Goin Native Therapeutic Gardens, which supports and educates the public about the importance of plants, the environment and their health through hands-on gardening and classes in local parks and at the community center and clubs.

Los Rios Park, under the guidance GNTG since 2009, has an established certified butterfly garden maintained by volunteers and the CUSD Adult Transition Workability students and teachers. The SJC Community Senior Center and Boys & Girls Club of Capistrano Valley benefit from the many enrichment programs and hand-on workshops given monthly by volunteers from GNTG.

For more information on Eco Garden Expo and GNTG, go to

Marianne Taylor is a 25-year resident of the Los Rios Historic District, specializing in garden education, dirt therapy and community volunteerism. For more information, visit

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