Gardens are blooming, spring is in the air and Mar Vista residents will be opening up their homes for the third annual Green Garden Showcase Saturday, April 30.

“Think of it as a giant eco-festival comprised of block parties throughout Mar Vista,” Sherri Akers, the co-chair of the Mar Vista Community Council’s Green Committee, explains of the event, which will feature 84 gardens this year.

This year’s tour will highlight gardens that have a variety of water capture features, composting techniques, drought resistant landscaping and edible gardens.

There will also be many new additions to this year’s showcase. Kristina Shires and her husband, Claude, moved to Mar Vista three years ago and were hoping to establish a sustainable home when they found a house on Marcasel Avenue. They said they are thrilled to be a part of the 2011 showcase.

“We learned so much about how this was a very sustainable community by going to the (Mar Vista) farmers market,” said Kristina Shires.

The Shires try to add a sustainable feature to their home each year and have one of the edible gardens on the tour. They have added solar panels to their home, their sprinklers are on timers and they monitor their water usage.

Marilee Kulhmann, a Mar Vista homeowner who was on the tour last year, designed a new garden for Blaine and Robyn McNutt near her home on Redwood Avenue. While the McNutt home is not on the map of the showcase, it will be part of the tour.

“One of the most interesting features about their home is that there are so many opportunities where you can have privacy,” said Kulhmann, the proprietor of Comfort Zones Garden Design.

Kulhmann designed a custom- made green house and recontoured part of the back yard. She also added Australian and South African plants to go with some drought resistant plants.

“Robyn has a very nice collection of orchids and they are a really interesting part of the garden,” Kulhmann said.

Kristina Shires says being part of the tour has become a big part of the Shires’ recent lives. “It’s very exciting for us,” she said.

The American Solar Energy Society’s National Solar Tour is also a part of the Mar Vista showcase of residences that have recently gone solar.

Information, Maps of the tour can also be downloaded from the website.