You won’t need your passport or luggage to travel the world on Thursday, May 12.
In fact, the only thing you need to bring to Clovis Botanical Garden that evening is your appetite. The three-acre public demonstration garden, on Clovis Avenue between Alluvial and Nees avenues, is prepared to serve up a variety of international and California-inspired cuisine at its third annual Around the World in 80 Bites fundraiser.
Pat Wynne, a former Clovis City Council member who serves as treasurer on the garden’s board of directors, said the water-wise garden contains plants that thrive in, but are not necessarily native to, the San Joaquin Valley. Plants within the garden are organized by their region of origin. The garden’s diversity, said Wynne, is a perfect jumping off point for the fundraiser, where guests will take a culinary world tour as they move about the garden.
“We play up the garden by playing up the cuisine,” she said.
As such, grape leaves and baklava are on the menu in the Mediterranean garden, and empanadas in the Chilean garden. Near the South African garden, guests will be able to sample lamb stew that’s been cooked over an open fire. The new Native garden — comprised of plants native to our region — will feature California nuts, fruits, cheese and wines.
Wynne pointed out an area dotted with cacti and other plants usually found in the Southwestern United States. The plants, she said, were donated and transplanted from a private residence nearly two years ago. Visitors to this Southwestern garden will find a station serving Mexican beer, tamales and chips and salsa.
The Australian garden hasn’t been completed, Wynne said. But in honor of the land down under, board member Perry Coy will be “grilling shrimp on the barbie.” Australian game and wine will also be served.
In addition to the food and beverages, an Elvis impersonator will provide live entertainment. Raffle tickets for a custom-made potting bench or four Disneyland park hopper tickets will be available for $1.
The Clovis Botanical Garden, established in 2002, began as a one-acre pilot project on land owned by the City of Clovis. Over time, it expanded to its current three acres. It’s funded, Wynne said, through donations, grants, memberships and the annual spring fundraiser. Volunteers maintain the grounds.
“We are the only botanical garden in this area.,” Wynne said. “There are some along the coast, certainly, and up by Sacramento, but as far as the San Joaquin Valley, we are the only botanical garden.”
According to Wynne, there’s good reason to pay a visit to Clovis Botanical Garden: it’s a great, free resource for the home gardener, especially in our environment, which continues to be challenged by the drought and water-use restrictions.
“We demonstrate the botanical culture of the area,” she said, “but we’re also educational. If you want to put low-water plants in your yard, there’s a good chance you’ll find them already growing here in the garden. You can come out here and see what they’ll look like in a garden situation ... before you actually invest in it. There’s usually people you can ask for advice. We are [putting] a real emphasis on water conservation and water-wise education.”
By the end of the year, Wynne said, the board hopes to have completed work on a home demonstration garden that will exhibit the difference between high- and low-water-use yards. The project will be funded with a recent $22,000 grant from the Stanley Smith Horticulture Trust.
“Many people think a water-wise plant is just some ugly old thing,” Wynne said. “We kind of show them it’s not the way it is. Water-wise plants are beautiful, they’re so colorful. Everything you see here is San Joaquin Valley- and drought-friendly. This is our baby out here.”
What: Around the World in 80 Bites, a fundraiser for Clovis Botanical Garden
When: 5:30-7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 12
Where: Clovis Botanical Garden, 945 N. Clovis Ave., Clovis
Cost: $40/members, $45/non-members