Beautifying Del Sol

Both the Del Mar Garden Club (DMGC) and the SeaWeeders Garden Club of Solana Beach have deep roots in their communities, with initial meetings dating back to the 1950s and ’80s, respectively. And while the clubs serve different areas, they are united in the common goal of keeping Del Sol beautiful. DMGC maintains several gardens throughout Del Mar, holds fundraisers for local gardening projects, and provides social and educational opportunities to its members. By adapting to water-wise gardening practices, the SeaWeeders are committed to sustainable beautification in Solana Beach, and frequently partner with local organizations to help with gardening and landscaping projects. Join our conversations with DMGC President Candace Kohl and SeaWeeders President Katie Pelisek to find out more.cover_sb4

Q&A with Del Mar Garden Club President
Candace Kohl

cover_dm2Please give us a brief history of the Del Mar Garden Club. When was the club founded and by whom?
The first meeting was in 1988. Monthly meetings were started in 1989. The DMGC was founded by a group of Del Mar residents with a love of gardening and a mission to beautify the city.

What is the club’s mission and how do you go about fulfilling it?
The purpose of the DMGC is to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening and to contribute to the beautification of the community. We have planted and maintain five gardens within the City of Del Mar. Each year we have an informational program for the entire community. We support buses for children to come to the San Diego County Fair. We contribute to numerous other gardening projects around the city of Del Mar.

How has the club changed or developed since it was founded?
The first project undertaken by the club was the design, installation, and maintenance of the garden in front of the Del Mar Post Office. This project was completed in 1992. We now plant and manage five gardens in the City of Del Mar, including the Post Office, Library, Crest Canyon Rim, the Del Mar Community Center building on 9th St., and the garden by the lifeguard station. These gardens have been a consistent priority of the club since its founding. Of course, plant material and irrigation issues have changed quite a bit since 1988. The club itself has grown and become more diverse in activities. Originally it was all about the dirt-under-the-fingernails kind of gardening and these days we have more social and educational activities. Another change is that we are now more structured with an active board of directors and we are affiliated with the California Garden Clubs, Inc.


What types of activities is the club involved with? Can you elaborate on some of the projects the club has worked on in the past?
In addition to maintaining multiple community gardens, we have held a number of fundraisers over the years and have partnered with the city to landscape the medians on Camino Del Mar and the Powerhouse Community Center. We helped with the mosaic wall at the Del Mar Library. We donated the Flock of Birds sculpture, which stood for many years outside our City Hall. We helped with the children’s garden at Del Mar Heights Elementary School. And many more.


When and where does the Garden Club meet?
We hold monthly meetings on the fourth Monday of the month except for July and August. Often these are garden tours, sometimes they are lectures at a member’s home or at the Powerhouse Community Center, and sometimes they are strictly social. Some of them are for members only but most include members’ guests.


Name: Candace Kohl
Community: Del Mar
Education: PhD in Chemistry
Family: one cat, Frankie
Interests and Hobbies: Collecting meteorites, growing exotic
plants, travel

Del Mar Garden Club

President: Candace Kohl
Year Founded: 1988
Number of Members: 40 active, 20 perennial
Address: PO Box 2832, Del Mar, CA 92014

What are the club’s short-term and long-term goals?
Beautification is one main goal! We are currently working on the storefronts along Camino Del Mar.
Why do you think the Garden Club is an important part of the Del Mar community?
The DMGC has been an active participant in the life and look of the City of Del mar for almost 30 years. Our beautification efforts have been so successful that the newer residents and visitors can’t imagine the city without our contributions.


Are there any exciting new projects or events coming up?
We had a table at the Picnic at Powerhouse Park event in Del Mar on Oct. 8. We are starting a big project in conjunction with the business owners along Camino Del Mar, and with the help of the Del Mar Foundation, to spruce up and beautify the storefronts and improve the look of the business district. We hope to have some of this completed in time for the Breeder’s Cup Event at the racetrack on Nov. 3 and 4. We want our city to look good! On Jan. 22 we will have our community outreach program at 9:30 a.m. at the Powerhouse Community Center that will feature the landscape architecture firm of the Schmidt Design Group, Inc. The talk will focus on sustainable solutions through design. They are tasked with redeveloping the Del Mar Shores Park on 9th St.


How would somebody go about joining the Del Mar Garden Club? What is the criteria for membership?
One must live within the 92014 zip code and be recommended by two members. The prospective member is then voted on by the board.

If you could grant the Del Mar Garden Club one wish, what would it be?
Continued community and city support.


Q&A with SeaWeeders Garden Club of Solana Beach President
Katie Pelisek

cover_sb12Are you still known as the SeaWeeders? Why the name change?
We are! The club came together in 2004 when Donna Golich, Gerri Retman-Opper, and others adopted the task of maintaining a community garden section of the Coastal Rail Trail. Since the effort involved a lot of weeding, by the sea…well, you can see why the name fits.

Please give us a brief history of the SeaWeeders Garden Club of Solana Beach. When was the club founded and by whom?
Briefly, it’s worth noting that the history of Solana Beach is dependent on the import of fresh water. Although we are flanked by beautiful lagoons with the Pacific Ocean at our front door, it wasn’t until Lake Hodges was filled and fresh water was piped to La Colonia de Eden Gardens that the city could begin to be developed, initially to house the Mexican-Americans who worked on neighboring orchards, ranches, and farms. These included flower fields along the south banks of San Elijo Lagoon and dahlia and orchid farms astride Nardo Ave., some of which remain today.

The club’s history is intertwined with the city’s development of landscaping and gardening opportunities. In fact, our roots date to the 1950s when the Women’s Civic Club formed to focus on the beautification of Solana Beach. More recent projects include not only the Coastal Rail Trail, but also the train station property, the welcome sculpture and planting at our eastern gateway at Lomas Santa Fe and Highland Dr., and an update of the landscaping at the U.S. Post Office at 153 South Sierra Ave.

As a local landscape designer, I, along with my friend Sandy Parish, formally revived the SeaWeeders in May 2012, rallying other gardening enthusiasts around the goal of helping to beautify and maintain our civic spaces. The group now counts about 80 registered members.


What is the club’s mission and how do you go about fulfilling it?
Our mission is to promote sustainable beautification of the City of Solana Beach through social interaction, garden education, and home and civic enrichment. In addition to our hands-on volunteer work, we host regular meetings to feature local gardening and agricultural experts and share our own gardening experiences and information. We host a poinsettia sale each December to raise funds for beautification projects.

How has the club changed or developed since it was founded?
Membership has grown substantially over the past five years, during which we also experienced our severe, statewide drought. We learned a lot together about water-wise gardening and how to renovate landscapes for sustainable beauty. If the club has a motto, it’s probably “don’t forget to mulch!”

SeaWeeders Garden Club of Solana Beach

Founding President: Katie Pelisek
Past President: Sandy Parish
Acting President: Kathleen Drummond
Year Founded:
Number of Members: 80

What types of activities is the club involved with? Can you elaborate on some of the projects the club has worked on in the past?
Our monthly meetings include both educational discussions and gardening projects. For example, we gather evergreen and other cuttings from members’ yards and spend an evening making holiday wreaths together. Our SeaWriters subcommittee submits monthly gardening tips published in the Solana Beach Sun.

In addition, SeaWeeders regularly participate in landscape planning, planting, and maintenance efforts around the city. Most recently, we teamed with the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy to improve the North Rios Trailhead access area, creating a stone wall sitting area and planting hardy, native plants. We completed an extensive landscape renovation at the U.S. Post Office on Sierra in 2014 and gather there quarterly with rakes, shovels, and shears to keep the grounds weeded and pruned.

Our members also volunteer with the Boys & Girls Club at their La Colonia educational garden, as well as their Center for a Healthy Lifestyle garden. And Donna Golich loves company during her weekly Thursday afternoons tending the Coastal Rail Trail community section, across from City Hall!

cover_sb5How does the SeaWeeders Garden Club stay connected with the Solana Beach community? Do you host or participate in regularly occurring events? Do you partner with other local groups?
As earlier noted, the SeaWeeders are intertwined with the development of Solana Beach and we operate under the umbrella of the Solana Beach Civic and Historical Society, with whom we share many members and projects. Our noted local botanical illustrator, Irina Gronborg, recently completed a Solana Beach history coloring book to be shared with local third graders when they visit the city’s heritage museum. We also work closely with the City of Solana Beach, local branches of the San Dieguito Boys & Girls Club, and the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy.

When and where does the club meet?
We meet at 6:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month (except July and August) at the Fletcher Cove Community Center. Watch for monthly meeting details in the Solana Beach Sun and at

cover_sb9What are the club’s short-term and long-term goals?
We would like to continue to grow our membership with enthusiastic participants who enjoy contributing to civic beautification projects.

Why do you think the SeaWeeders are an important part of the Solana Beach community?
We live in a great city and we enjoy helping to keep it beautiful. Sharing local knowledge about the unique soil conditions, weather, and watering challenges that face Solana Beach gardeners is our passion. We welcome new residents to join our gatherings, learn from our experience, and contribute to our wonderful community of Solana Beach.

Are there any exciting new projects or events coming up?
We are planning a thorough clean-up of the post office landscape. We also plan to publish our monthly tips as a booklet and make it available throughout the community.


How would somebody go about joining the club? What is the criteria for membership?
The only membership requirement is your interest in gardening and a willingness to get your hands dirty once in a while! Although our project focus is Solana Beach, we welcome members from neighboring communities. Simply come to one of our meetings or contact us at

If you could grant the SeaWeeders Garden Club one wish, what would it be?
More wishes!