All posts by Rebecca Flanegan

New Bird Series Starts May 3

Ever see a bird perched on a tree branch and wonder what it was? Curious about environmental impacts on bird nesting and rehabilitation for birds injured in the wild?

The Gardens is proud to introduce a new five-part series, The Ecology of Heather Farm Pond Birds, on Thursdays in May and June. Designed to teach participants skills needed to identify, appreciate and track the diversity of birds around our neighboring lake and pond, the course will be led by GHF’s Natural Science Teacher and bird enthusiast, Noelle Pipa, and will feature expert guest presenters including renowned naturalist, John Muir Laws, and conservationists from Lindsay Wildlife ExperienceMt. Diablo Audubon Society, and California Bluebird Recovery Program.

The course starts Thursday, May 3 at 4:30pm, and participants can register for the five-class series (at a discounted rate), or individual classes.

Join us for the Ecology of Heather Farm Pond Birds
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10 Reasons to Attend FIESTA NUEVA on May 6

Things are about to get really FESTIVE at The Gardens’ this spring! Our Annual Gala Fundraiser is scheduled for Sunday, May 6 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., and we’ve compiled a list of our 10 favorite things that make this event so special.
1) See the garden at its best. Every spring, around early May, the thousands of rose blooms in the Cowden Rose Garden go bonkers and put on quite a colorful show. Perfect viewing for a sunny Sunday afternoon stroll.

Joshua Isaacs Photography

2) All food, beverages and entertainment are included in the ticket price. Yep, that’s right. A series of food/beverage stations located around the garden will offer Latin American-inspired appetizers such as ceviche, Cuban sliders, corn and black bean tortilla cups, gaucho-style steak, and tostones, plus dessert, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, live music, dancing, and more.

3) Win a Cancun vacation! All attendees will be entered for a chance to win a vacation certificate for five days and four nights in Cancun, Mexico. The perfect prize for our Latin American-themed event — a south-of-the border vacaction! Hit the links at Laguna Suites Golf & Spa or enjoy cocktails along the coast at Ocean Spa Hotel. (Some restrictions and fees apply.)

4) Caramelized pineapple margaritas “to die for.” Tangy lime, caramelized pineapple and silver anejo tequila put this tasty Mexican cocktail over the top. It’s a special recipe created by catering sponsor, A Loveable Feast, and we can’t wait to try it.
5) Help us engage young children with nature and teach them about the environment. Did you know that The Gardens’ youth education program brings natural and environmental science classes to over 17,000 kids in Contra Costa County each year? Funding for these school programs, on subjects like pollination, geology, composting, seeds, native plants and more, comes in part from money raised at Fiesta and other fundraisers.

6) Your attendance at this event will also make a difference in the garden. Thousands of visitors wander our paths monthly, admiring the garden spaces and taking in the pretty scenery. But all that beauty doesn’t happen by itself. As a nonprofit organization, we not only depend on volunteers to help with pruning and weeding each week, we rely on annual fundraising to provide dollars for purchasing new plants, fixing irrigation issues, and developing new areas of the garden for public enjoyment.

7) Sunday afternoons are perfect for authentic Latin music. Pianist Marco Diaz returns to The Gardens for the second consecutive  year, this time with his larger ensemble, Vission Latina. The authentic salsa band will perform a mix of traditional Cuban classics and contemporary faves. In addition to playing regularly around the Bay Area, their music has been featured in a number of documentary films about Cuba. Perfect sounds to get your hips swaying and toes tapping.

8) Learn to salsa dance under the sun. Professional salsa dancers in costume will be on hand to show you some moves sure to kick the party up a notch.
9) It’s the perfect weekend afternoon getaway, right around the corner. Looking for an easy “stay-cation” experience? Need a break from the kids or grandkids? Escape (virtually) to iconic Latin American cities like Cabo San Lucas, Buenos Aires, San Juan and Havana. Relax in the garden while enjoying the sweet fragrance of fresh flower blossoms, tasty appetizers, margaritas, sounds of piano and conga drums, all without even getting on a plane.

10) Eat good, do good, feel good. At Fiesta Nueva, you’ll get all the amazing event features mentioned above, while also helping the community, and helping The Gardens reach our goals. We depend on your support.
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Style your dream wedding at The Gardens!

Wedding season 2018 is finally here, and over the next eight months, more than 90 engaged couples will be celebrating their nuptials at our beautiful, nature-themed venue. While many couples pick The Gardens for its flexibility, affordability and relaxed atmosphere, most folks are drawn to our unique spaces, including a lush and flower-filled garden, festive outdoor patio and bar, and spacious indoor reception hall with gorgeous garden views. Couples also consistently love how easy our venue is to customize to their personal designs and dreams for that special day.

wedding, couple, bride, groom, garden, venue

Que Bonita Photography

Blue Lab Media






Here are some recommendations for styling your wedding at The Gardens: With a neutral-toned banquet space and diverse garden landscapes, COLOR is where your wedding details start to come alive. Bright, bold colors or soft pastels play equally well during both ceremony and reception, so just choose what you like based on your theme, the season, or your favorite color when you were nine! With so many plants and flowers out in the garden, you rarely have to decorate outdoors, but we recommend investing in floral designs for bouquets and dining tables that will really impress. Make the reception room pop with draperies or string lights, and consider upgrading to Chiavari or cross-back chairs to elevate the look further. Colored up lights and dance lights provide even more visual interest, and don’t forget to dress up the tables with candles, lanterns or other small decor pieces. And our wall-mounted shelves near the bridal dressing room are a great place to showcase your theme and tell your story as a couple with framed photos, floral, craft items and other wedding decor.

Ditto Photography

Custock Photography

Kristen Hope Photography

Kristen Hope Photography






So, whether you follow Pinterest, Style Me Pretty, or Martha Stewart Weddings, whether you’re looking for lights and lanterns or drapes and lounge furniture, whether you’ve got big plans or no plan, The Gardens at Heather Farm is the perfect place to see your dream wedding come to life.

Contact our Events Team to get your wedding going today!
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Nature Techies in Action

The Gardens at Heather Farm recently held a “battle of the devices” at the STEM & EdTech Symposium on Saturday, February 24th to pilot the new Nature Techies lesson in our Natural Science Classroom program for local school children.


Teachers and students pitted Apple iPads against Amazon Fires to determine which tablet device was better for documenting, analyzing, and reporting results of their on-campus biodiversity surveys in a real-time collaborative effort. Our brave pilots then used these findings to brainstorm ways to promote biodiversity at their school sites.

As our society becomes more tech-oriented, The Gardens at Heather Farm strives to maintain a vital connection to the natural world. Nature Techies updates our Nature Detectives lesson by utilizing handheld smart devices so that students can communicate their findings with their classmates in real time. We encourage them to use this experience to make real life decisions about preserving plant and animal life on campus.

Guida Surveying, Inc. wins award for GHF garden map!

New garden map from Guida Surveying, Inc. helps our nonprofit and wins ACEC award!

Early in 2017, we found ourselves desperate for an updated topographical map of our garden. The map is crucial for use when designing and developing garden areas (such as our new Children’s Garden) as well as for general garden visitors. A Board member reached out to Guida Surveying, Inc. who, after visiting the property and assessing our needs, offered to donate their services for the project.

In the fall, it was announced that Guida had been selected by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) to receive an Honor Award for their work surveying and designing our map. Guida will be recognized on Thursday, February 8th at the Engineering Excellence Awards Banquet in Los Angeles. The project will also be featured in ACEC California’s magazine, Engineering and Surveying Business Review, News & Events newsletter, and on the ACEC California website.

The Gardens at Heather Farm would like to extend our sincerest thanks and congratulations to the team at Guida Surveying, Inc.

Don’t miss Fiesta Nueva on May 6th!

From Cuba to Mexico, from Puerto Rico to Peru, savor the flavors of Latin America at The Gardens’ Annual Gala Fundraiser, Fiesta Nueva!

Join us on Sunday, May 6th for an afternoon garden party on the beautiful, flower-filled grounds of The Gardens at Heather Farm. Guests will enjoy a variety of Latin American-inspired appetizers, refreshing beverages and live salsa music while celebrating spring in the garden and raising funds for The Gardens’ nonprofit programs.

At Fiesta Nueva, we’re bringing the spirit of some of Latin America’s most iconic cities to Walnut Creek, where you’ll feel as though you’re sipping margaritas in Cabo, savoring ceviche in Lima, trying tasty tostones in San Juan, grabbing some gaucho-style steak in Buenos Aires, and salsa dancing through the streets of Havana.

Event admission includes:
  • A selection of tasty items such as ceviche, tostones, chimichurri steak skewers, Cuban sliders, pineapple margaritas and more from catering sponsor, A LOVEABLE FEAST
  • Live music by authentic salsa band, VISSION LATINA, plus salsa dancers
  • Craft beer from LOST COAST BREWING COMPANY and a selection of wines
  • A chance to donate and win raffle items and prizes, including gift cards, gift baskets, wine and more
  • All attendees will be entered for a chance to win a five day/four night vacation stay in CANCUN, MEXICO (some restrictions and fees apply*)

Sunday, May 6, 2018 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Tickets: $75 per person, ages 21+ only

Get Tickets
Oops, scheduling conflict? No worries. If you are unable to attend the event, you can still support The Gardens’ fundraising efforts by making a donation online.


Joan and David Lucchese
Bruce and Trudy Presser
Linda Womack

Cancun Vacation Prize Contest Rules: All attendees at Fiesta Nueva will receive a raffle ticket valid for entry in the drawing to win a vacation certificate for five days and four nights of accommodations in Cancun, Mexico at either Laguna Suites Golf or Spa ( or the Ocean Spa Hotel ( The vacation is valid for travel by two adults (30 years old and older) and two children under the age of 12. Reservations are based upon availability; however, there are no blackout dates and no expiration date. Certificate valued at $699. To redeem, the winner will be required to pay activation fee and hotel taxes totaling $199.

Planting seeds for our future

At the Gardens, we embrace every opportunity to educate those around us about the many benefits of nature. Studies have shown that fewer Americans have a relationship with nature than ever before in the history of our nation and that a connection with nature is vital for a person’s health and well-being.

Gardens like ours provide powerful health benefits, offering a setting for exercise, inspiration and relaxation, all known to lower stress levels and increase feelings of happiness. Gardens like ours serve as a living classroom to educate visitors about our natural world. Gardens like ours create a sense of purpose, a place to plant seeds.

Through the generous support of our donors, we planted many seeds in 2017:

  • Delivered environmental science programs to over 17,000 K-5 students in Contra Costa County, providing instruction on pollination, composting, the water cycle, plant anatomy and more
  • Encouraged the next generation of nature lovers with our weekly preschool programs about water, weather, wildlife, and the natural world they impact
  • Celebrated diversity and cultural expression in our community as a venue for hundreds of weddings, memorials, meetings and social gatherings
  • Created unforgettable moments for a wide range of visitors from all over the Bay Area with engaging classes, striking garden exhibits, and inspiring events

By making an end-of-year gift, YOU help plant a seed that will make a difference:

  • Every seed planted about nature in a child’s mind continues to impact their lives forever and therefore helps to ensure the protection of our environment.
  • Every seed planted provides a pesticide-free safe haven for birds, bees, butterflies and bugs, which have a critical role in keeping our environment healthy.
  • Every seed planted enhances our exquisite venue creating truly unique events and lasting memories for everyone in our community.
  • Every seed planted and nurtured enriches the beauty and serenity of the gardens and provides a beneficial oasis for all visitors.

Right now at the Gardens, construction is underway on three new capital improvement projects: A new greenhouse/shade house complex to support our propagation program, horticulture classes and plant sales; a new community garden for local families to grow their own food and garden with their children; and a new Children’s Garden, with surprise must-see features sure to delight and inspire our youngest visitors!

Make your gift TODAY and plant more seeds for the future!

New Garden Map Donated by Guida Surveying Inc.

Early in 2017, we found ourselves desperate for an updated topographical map of our garden. As a non-profit, we are at the mercy of donors to support much of our capital improvements. One of those marked improvements was a new Children’s Garden area, complete with an adorable “Hobbit House,” butterfly display area and other interactive nature features for children and their families. After much work courting donors and generating public interest, we received enough funding to approve the Children’s Garden project. However, before the project could officially move forward, one of our last remaining needs was new mapping of the property so the area could be properly designed.

A Board member reached out to Guida Surveying who graciously offered to visit The Gardens and assess our needs for the project. What transpired from then on was so completely beyond our expectations! Upon meeting with our staff, Guida realized the current mapping for our entire 6-1/2 acre property was so out of date, it was rendered useless. Guida quickly offered to map the entire property for us and did so in time to meet our needs for the children’s garden. But that wasn’t all. Upon speaking with our staff to understand about all of our programs and garden uses, Guida performed a host of other deliverables to allow us to do so much more than we ever thought possible.

Here at The Gardens, we are proud of the impact we are making connecting and educating thousands of people about nature, while continuing to sustain the environment every year with our free, public garden. In 2017 alone, we reached over 17,000 school children in Contra Costa County with our natural and environmental science programs. Thanks to the generosity of firms like Guida, we can continue, and now improve, our efforts.

22nd Annual Teddy Bear Tea SOLD OUT!

Experience a WINTER WONDERLAND in Walnut Creek at the 22nd Annual Teddy Bear Tea, where snowflakes hover overhead, evergreen trees twinkle with lights, and bears and other woodland animals share in a holiday-inspired tea party with you and your family.

Enjoyed by everyone from tiniest tot to the tallest and wisest of grown-ups, Teddy Bear Tea has been a tradition for over 20 years, gathering the community together during the holidays and raising much-needed funds for our nonprofit organization.

Jodi Foucher Photography

Guests share in a variety of savories, sandwiches and sweet treats, as well as a visit to “Bearland” for story time, crafts and a special holiday-themed photo opportunity. Kids can wear their “fancy dress,” practice party etiquette and drink real (decaffinated) tea or juice in china cups.

Each of the four tea times features a unique, custom menu designed specifically for the Teddy Bear Tea event and presented by one of our professional catering sponsors.

12/2 @ 11:00 a.m. Menu provided by Sunrise Bistro & Catering
12/2 @ 3:00 p.m. Menu provided by Absolute Celebrations Catering
12/3 @ 11:00 a.m. Menu provided by Checkers Catering
12/3 @ 3:00 p.m. Menu provided by Salt & Honey Catering


After enjoying the tasty tea buffet, enter the raffle for a chance to win fun prizes, including American Girl dolls, Disneyland tickets, gingerbread houses, toy baskets and more, and then purchase teddy bears, handmade jewelry, lavender wands and the ever-popular ribbon “halos” from the Holiday Boutique. And all kids take home party favors.

The annual Teddy Bear Tea event is made possible through the support of our sponsors and many volunteers. Proceeds go directly to support the education and garden programs at The Gardens at Heather Farm.


Advanced reservations are required. Seatings are at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. each day. While all ages are welcome, this event is ideal for children ages 3-9. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets are non-refundable.

Teddy Bear Tea 2017 is SOLD OUT!
Thanks for your support!

We’d like to thank our Teddy Bear Tea Sponsors:





Pumpkin & Plant Sale!

Celebrate the arrival of autum! Head on down to The Gardens to pick up some plants and vine-grown pumpkins for the season on Sunday, October 8th, 10am to 2pm, rain or shine.

Stock up for your fall planting with many unique plant species and varieties for sale in 4″ pots and gallons. Plus, take a stroll through our hillside pumpkin patch and pick your own pumpkin (or two) to take home!

Our amazing Garden Manager, Jere, will be on hand to assist you with plant selection and answer questions. And remember to thank all the hard-working plant sale volunteers who help make this event possible.

Members receive 10% off their purchases!
Proceeds benefit our nonprofit public garden & education center.

Sunday, October 8th, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
In the Main Garden Area behind the building
1540 Marchbanks Drive, Walnut Creek