Plant, gardening things to do in L.A. in September, October

Can you feel it? Somewhere through all this heat and dust, there’s the tiniest of fragrant chills in the air — it’s spice and pumpkin time! (Or maybe that’s just the overwhelming aroma of cinnamon brooms at local grocery stores.)

Anyway, I don’t know about you but I’m more than ready for some holiday normalcy. And there are plenty of events coming up to celebrate. Just remember to have a mask handy, and note that many activities ask people to maintain some social distancing.

And for plant and nature lovers, there are great opportunities to get your hands dirty, such as removing invasive species in Lunada Canyon in Rancho Palos Verdes or potting your own herbs at the Greystone Mansion Demonstration Garden.

Here are more classes, flower shows and garden-y Halloween events to keep you busy into October. Email garden and plant-related events to [email protected] at least three weeks before the event and we might include them in the calendar.

Through Sept. 26
“World of Bromeliads” exhibit at the San Diego Botanic Garden, 300 Quail Gardens Drive in Encinitas, features interactive displays throughout the 37-acre garden of these tropical, exotic plants, which range from Spanish moss and air plants to pineapples and houseplants with extraordinary blooms. The exhibit includes a station where visitors can use microscopes to see the biodiversity of organisms living in a bromeliad’s “water tanks,” the natural reservoirs where some of the plants store water. The garden is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays (closed Mondays and Tuesdays). Admission is $18 ($12 seniors, active military and students with ID; $10 ages 3-17; children under 3 and members free.)

Through Oct. 31
Roger’s Gardens “Cabinet of Curiosities” Halloween Boutique, 2301 San Joaquin Hills Road in Corona del Mar, pays homage to Hollywood’s classic horror movies, with lifesize depictions of Dracula, Frankenstein, the Bride of Frankenstein, the Creature From the Black Lagoon and the Mummy. Each “creature” has its own room of merchandise, from a thick archway of grinning skeletons to beakers of slimy green liquid and very menacing insects safely encased (one hopes) in resin. It’s more creepy than scary, and everything is for sale. Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Masks are required for unvaccinated visitors (based on the honor system) and the number of people inside the store will be limited, so be prepared to wait in line. Admission is free.

Sept. 18-19
Southern California Begonia Society Show & Sale at Sherman Library & Gardens, 2647 E. Coast Highway in Corona del Mar 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. The show features a variety of begonias on display and for sale, as well as classes on begonia cultivation on Sept. 18 and begonia propagation on Sept. 19. Both classes begin at 11:30 a.m. Free with $5 admission to the gardens. (Children 3 and under and members enter free.)

Sept. 19
How to grow a winter vegetable garden in your backyard or containers is a class presented by master gardener George Pessin, curator of Greystone Mansion, at the Greystone Demonstration Garden, 905 Loma Vista Drive in Beverly Hills from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The class includes instruction in which vegetables grow best in Southern California’s mild winters, as well as tips on fertilizing, mulching, irrigating and harvesting. Admission is $15 ($12 for Beverly Hills residents).

How to garden for butterflies: pro tips at UC Riverside’s Botanic Garden, 1 Botanic Gardens Drive in Riverside from 9 a.m. to noon. UC Riverside’s master gardener docents will answer questions in the butterfly garden about the life cycle of butterflies and which plants are best for attracting butterflies. Admission is free but a $5 donation is encouraged.

Sept. 23 – Oct. 31
The Haunted Hayride returns to Griffith Park. The event, which has been quite crowded in the past, includes scary hayrides, trick-or-treating in the spooky town of Midnight Falls, a “midnight mortuary” haunted house, Scare Zone haunted mazes and Dead End Diner. Warning: The event includes monsters, witches and other creepy creatures and may be too intense for children 12 and younger. Tickets are $39.99 each.

Sept. 25-26
Help restore Lunada Canyon in the Agua Amarga Reserve in Rancho Palos Verdes during a work celebration of National Public Lands Day hosted by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy. Volunteers will be asked to help remove invasive species in the canyon to make room for native plants. Sign up to work a two-hour shift from 8 to 10 a.m. or 10 a.m to noon on Sept. 25 or 26.

Sept. 26
Celebrate “Autumn in the Garden,” the 16th anniversary of Arlington Garden, billed as the only free, public Mediterranean-climate garden in Pasadena. The main event, from 5 to 7:30 p.m., includes music by Mia Doi Todd and the jazz ensemble Katalyst, as well as food offerings by Sqirl chef Jessica Koslow and wine by Wenzlau Vineyard. During the VIP reception from 4 to 5 p.m., local dignitaries will honor former Pasadena City Manager Don McIntyre and his wife, Nancy, with the McKenney Family Arlington Garden Award for their years of service and support. Tickets for the VIP event are $161 (including Eventbrite fees); for the main event only, $81 (with fee), $28 (with fee) for children under 12. All profits from the event will be used to benefit the park.

Oct. 1-31
Mr. Jack O’Lanterns Pumpkin Patch opens six locations in Southern California, for Halloween pumpkin picking along with pumpkin bowling and other games for children, a “spooky maze,” pumpkin decorating stations and a seasonally themed bouncy slide/house (activities may vary by location). Online ordering is available for pumpkins, corn stalks and gourds, along with pumpkin decorating kits for $10 to $22. Locations include West L.A. (11852 Santa Monica Blvd.), Torrance (17520 Prairie Ave.), La Jolla (6710 La Jolla Blvd.), San Diego (3190 Mission Blvd.), Hollywood (starting Oct. 8 at 6407 Sunset Blvd.) and the Fairfax neighborhood of L.A. (starting Oct. 16 at the Original Farmers Market, 6333 W. 3rd St.) Open daily, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free; a $15 “Jack O’Pass” provides unlimited access to games and activities, plus one mini pumpkin and one session of pumpkin decorating. Check each location to see what activities are offered.

Nights of the Jack Halloween event returns for its fourth year at King Gillette Ranch, 26800 Mulholland Hwy. in Calabasas, daily from 6 to 10 p.m. This is an outdoor walking trail filled with thousands of hand-carved illuminated pumpkins that extends for two-thirds of a mile. General admission tickets are $34.99 weekdays and $39.99 weekends, parking passes are $9.99 per vehicle and children 2 and younger enter for free. Food and beverages are available for purchase.

Oct. 2
Restoring habitat at the Los Cerritos Wetlands is a volunteer event hosted by the Aquarium of the Pacific to restore habitat at the 66-acre wetlands by collecting seeds from rare plants, planting varieties native to the region and removing invasive non-natives. Takes place the first Saturday of every month through Dec. 4 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Volunteers should meet at Pacific Coast Highway and 1st Street in Seal Beach at 10:15 a.m. Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Closed-toe shoes are required; hats and sunscreen are strongly recommended. Water will be provided but this is a plastic-bottle-free event, so bring your own reusable water bottle. Registration is not required.

Oct. 2-31
28th Cal Poly Pomona Pumpkin Fest returns from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends and 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays. This year’s pumpkin patch will feature 30,000 Cal Poly-grown pumpkins for $5 to $7 each, plus farm demonstrations, live entertainment, food and a variety of activities at Cal Poly Pomona’s AGRIscapes Center, 4102 S. University Drive in Pomona. Activities include hayrides, a corn maze, a sunflower patch, a petting farm (featuring Oreo, the celebrity lamb who was named last year in a popular contest), the new Moo Moo Cow Train, pulled by an antique tractor, and a farmers market with campus-grown agricultural items, crafts and snacks. The Insect Fair will not be held this year due to COVID restrictions. Admission is free on Wednesdays and Thursdays, but visitors must register online to receive free tickets. On Fridays, admission is $5 adults and $4 for seniors, children 3-12 and anyone with a Cal Poly Pomona ID. Weekend tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for seniors, children and Cal Poly IDs. Wristbands offering unlimited access to activities are $14 each on weekends and $8 on Fridays. Proceeds support Cal Poly Pomona Huntley College of Agriculture’s farm operations, student clubs and outreach activities.

Oct. 3
Integrated Pest Management: How to Deal With Insects, Pests and Disease in a Backyard Garden is a class offered by master gardener George Pessin, curator of the Greystone Demonstration Garden at Greystone Mansion, 905 Loma Vista Drive in Beverly Hills, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $15 ($12 for Beverly Hills residents). Class size limited to 12.

Oct. 11-31
Descanso Gardens’ Carved event features a mile-long walkway lined with hundreds of carved pumpkins, oversize sculptures made from natural materials, a pumpkin house and a hay maze. Tickets for timed entries between 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. are available now for members ($25-$28) and go on sale Oct. 1 for nonmembers ($32-$35).

Oct. 23-24
Chrysanthemum Show & Sale by the Orange County Chrysanthemum Society at Sherman Library & Gardens, 2647 E. Coast Highway in Corona del Mar, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The show will include classes about mums, Q&A sessions and many plants for sale. The show is free with $5 admission to the gardens (free to members).

Oct. 24
Start an Herb Garden or Expand an Existing One is a class offered by master gardener George Pessin, curator of the Greystone Demonstration Garden at Greystone Mansion, 905 Loma Vista Drive in Beverly Hills, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Bring your own 6-inch to 8-inch pot and take home an herb plant; the instructor will provide seedlings and potting soil. Tickets are $15 ($12 for Beverly Hills residents). Class size limited to 12.

Nov. 6
Native Plant Sale sponsored by the San Gabriel Mountains chapter of the California Native Plant Society in partnership with the city of Monrovia, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Monrovia Historical Museum, 742 E. Lemon Ave. Volunteers are needed to help with the sale, which is being organized by Artemisia Nursery. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Monrovia Canyon Park Volunteers, who help maintain the park and recently repaired trails, removed fallen trees and did other improvements after the park was burned during the 2020 Bobcat Fire. A complete list of plants and seeds available for sale is available online at

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