The Venice Garden Tour is a fundraiser that seeks to showcase the “unusual and delightful” gardens tucked away in Venice’s residential side streets and neighborhoods.

Venice Garden Tour 2005 is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 7th, starting at the Las Doradas Children’s Center, 804 Broadway Ave., Venice.

Participants are asked to arrive between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and ticket sales will stop at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $50 in advance or $60 the day of the tour. Children under 12 years old are admitted free.

Ticket holders receive a map to guide them through the sites and a Gardens of Venice Source Book with information on botanical gardens and nurseries.

Tour-goers walk, bike or drive from stop to stop. A shuttle is also available to guide people along the tour of the sites that are approximately within an area of one mile in radius, says Jan Brilliot, co-founder of the Venice Garden Tour.

This year’s tour has stops in the Canals, Milwood, Riviera and Silver Triangle (east of the Canals) neighborhoods.

The event serves as a way to experience some Venice architectural and cultural history during the Centennial celebrations, says Linda Lucks, co-founder of the event.

One walk-by stop on the tour is the home of a man in his 90s who has lived in Venice since 1937 and still runs an urban farm at the site, says Brilliot.

Some architectural and landscape design professionals, including tour co-founder Jay Griffith, show their homes on the tour, but there’s little expertise other than “snooping around” in finding many of the featured gardens, says Brilliot.

“As early as November, I start walking the neighborhoods in Venice, peering over fences, knocking on doors, looking for beautiful gardens to feature in the tour,” says Brilliot.

“Usually people are pretty receptive to opening their properties up and being part of the tour,” says Brilliot. “Venetians are generally pretty open.”

The tour also takes into consideration some of the notable architecture of Venice homes, with stops at dwellings designed by architects David Hertz and Steven Shortridge.

Other architectural professionals who will show their gardens include Steven Ehrlich, Glen Irani and Whitney Sander.

The event seeks to find and showcase architectural and landscape trends created by Venice residents and local landscape professionals.

Many gardens encompass entire yards (puny as Venice yards may be) with a focus on replacing high maintenance grass lawns with visually interesting plants and shrubs that are more native and manageable in the arid Southern California environment.

Funds raised by the Venice Garden tour go to support the programming of the Neighborhood Youth Association’s Las Doradas Children’s Center and Learning Center, which provides childcare and after-school academic programs for “at-risk” children.

“The Las Doradas Children’s Center and the after-school program provide a safe, nurturing environment for bright, fertile young minds so eager to learn and a committed staff so willing to teach and to help the children of this community become their personal best,” says Vendella Barnett, executive director of the Neighborhood Youth Association.

The Venice Garden Tour was started 11 years ago as a fundraising idea by acclaimed Venice landscape designer Jay Griffith and Venice community leaders Linda Lucks and Jan Brilliot, in response to financial needs at the Las Doradas Children’s Center.

The Neighborhood Youth Association was founded in 1906 by the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

Information, (310) 569-7991.

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