Cold Blooded Companions

Reptiles are more than just part of the scenery here, they’re important links in the garden ecosystem. It’s a sure sign that the weather is warming up at Marin Art & Garden Center when the lizards appear. You’ll catch sight of them sunning on a rock or skittering into the shadows, or even doing pushups on the path.

The two most common lizards here are Western Fence Lizards, and Western skinks. Western Fence lizards are often called “blue-bellies,” and indeed have streaks or patches of bright blue on the underside of their abdomen. Their coloring otherwise is usually a light variegated gray, but they can actually change color: when they’re cold and trying to warm up, their skin can turn a much darker shade, almost black to soak up the sun. They eat insects, including mosquitoes, and in turn are often host to ticks. Remarkably, the lizards’ blood includes a protein that neutralizes the bacteria causing Lyme disease, so ticks that feed on them are no longer carriers of this dangerous illness. Good friends to have in the garden!

Skinks are more evasive, and if you happen to see a juvenile with an electric blue tail, all the more startling when you do catch sight of one. Like Fence lizards, they have the ability to regenerate their tail, so it’s not uncommon to see one with just a stump remaining after a run-in with a predator. Their diet includes many insects that are plant pests, so count yourself lucky if you do have them in your garden.

Marin is host to several different species of snake as well. We most often see gopher and gartersnakes, which are well camouflaged with gray to brown coloring, although gopher snakes can grow to five feet long. From their names, you can probably guess their favorite menu items, and welcome them as effective rodent control. The Sharp-Tailed snake is flashier and distinctive with a pinkish-red stripe running the length of its body and a single pointed scale forming the tip of its tail. This snake primarily feeds on slugs, so it’s another asset to gardeners. While no one has reported seeing a rattlesnake here at Marin Art & Garden Center, you should be on the lookout when hiking in open space in Marin, and keep your dog leashed to prevent any surprise encounters.

There’s very little you need to do to help our local reptile pest-controllers make their homes in your garden, fortunately. They need places to hide, such as rocks, mulch, or bushy plants and grasses; they’re very sensitive to chemicals, so eliminate your use of weed killer and apply any chemical fertilizer sparingly.

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IRS Guidelines for Gifts from Donor Advised Funds to Support MAGC Events

Thank you for your interest in giving to the Marin Art & Garden Center events from your Donor Advised Fund (DAF) or Family Foundation.

We sincerely appreciate your generosity and support!

To ensure your gift follows the current IRS guidelines for DAF/Family Foundation support of an event, we would like to share the below guidelines with you.

  • Raffle tickets, tickets to galas and other special events, auction items, and benefits conferred in connection with a DAF/foundation grant are not permitted.
    • IRS has specifically ruled that fair market value associated with fundraising events cannot be separated, a practice known as “bifurcation.”
      • For example, with Edible Garden, if the price of the ticket is $200 and the FMV fair market value (non-tax-deductible amount) is designated to be $50, the donor must pay from sources other than her DAF/foundation for the full value of the ticket ($200) and not just for the non-tax-deductible amount ($50).
    • We recommend you confer with your financial advisor to confirm if any of these examples of how donors may still use their DAF to support an event would work for you:
      • A donor could sponsor the event, and not attend, and pay fully out of the DAF/foundation.
      • A donor could sponsor the event using DAF/foundation funds and attend by purchasing an individual ticket through non-DAF/foundation funds.
      • A donor could sponsor the event, join the event as a guest of another donor/table guest, and pay fully out of the DAF/foundation.
      • A donor could sponsor the event and host the afforded number of people at their chosen level as long as they pay for the seats at the lowest ticket price ($200 for Edible Garden) outside of their DAF.
        • As an example, a $1,500 sponsor that covers 2 guests, could pay for their sponsorship with $400 from a different source of funds, and then give an additional gift of $1,100 out of their DAF.


Please email Tod Thorpe, Director of Development at to discuss your gift to Marin Art and Garden Center