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Marianne Taylor shows a troop of girl scouts from the Laguna Niguel area the root system of the milkweed they grew for the Los Rios Park certified butterfly garden. Photo: Allison Jarrell
Marianne Taylor shows a troop of girl scouts from the Laguna Niguel area the root system of the milkweed they grew for the Los Rios Park certified butterfly garden. Photo: Allison Jarrell

By Allison Jarrell

The second annual Eco Garden Expo, presented by local nonprofit Goin Native Therapeutic Gardens, will take place May 2-3 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Los Rios Park, located in downtown San Juan Capistrano. The event is free and open to the public.

Goin Native founder and executive director, Marianne Taylor, is a 25-year resident of the Los Rios Historic District, specializing in garden education, dirt therapy and community volunteerism. Taylor said after teaching classes for about six years, she realized that she “wanted to get people more connected and involved with the whole process” of gardening.

“This expo is about gathering inspiration and ideas to redo your yard or garden,” Taylor said. “It’s about keeping up with drought trends and living more sustainably.”

Freshly planted milkweed, grown by girl scouts from the Laguna Niguel area, attracts a Monarch butterfly. Photo: Allison Jarrell
Freshly planted milkweed, grown by girl scouts from the Laguna Niguel area, attracts a Monarch butterfly. Photo: Allison Jarrell

Taylor switched out her Los Rios Street yard for drought-tolerant plants 25 years ago and has been a strong advocate of native landscaping ever since. People wanted to know how and why she made those choices, so Taylor created the Goin Native nonprofit to educate the community about drought-tolerant landscaping with native plants. Today, the nonprofit has a handful of programs, like the Los Rios Garden Angels volunteer group and a master gardener program at Reata Park.

Taylor said the Eco Expo helps spread awareness of these programs, as well as education about eco-friendly yard and garden options. About 50 exhibitors will be at this year’s expo, ranging from backyard bees and edible gardening, to artisan crafts and composting with worms. Hands-on workshops will offer lessons in making flower bouquets and headbands, and multiple demonstration gardens will be available to help guide visitors in applying designs to their own green space.

The event’s opening ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. on May 2 with special guest speaker A.G. Kawamura, former California Secretary of Agriculture, and a blessing by the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians.

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