“You can see people feeling exuberant about being alive, living in Marin, and Marin Art and Garden Center itself. It’s like a big container holding all this community energy.

Linda Novy has experienced many of the picturesque landscapes that make up the United States. Living in Illinois, she saw the elegant contrast of great lakes and vast plains. In Colorado, she marveled at the rugged grandeur of the Rocky Mountains. In Arizona, she basked in the quiet sublimity of the desert. Then, in the 1970’s, she made her way to California and soaked in the splendor of its beaches, forests, and rolling hills. She settled down in Fairfax and opened a thriving business. It’s only natural that Linda’s love for landscapes would also bring her to Marin Art and Garden Center and ignite an enduring passion for the property.

“I’ve been coming here since the 1980’s,” she says. “I’ve attended garden talks, environmental forums, and gardening workshops. In fact, we held our Leaders Circle event for Marin Conservation League at Marin Art and Garden Center. During the event, a presentation about its history was given, including how it wouldn’t be here today if it hadn’t been for the fascinating and determined women – led by Caroline Livermore – who rose-up to save it.”

As owner, president, and CEO of Gardeners’ Guild, Inc. Linda grew the business from seven to 125 people and won numerous awards throughout her career. Among them are accolades from media outlets, the Marin County Board of Supervisors, the Marin Municipal Water district, the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Trailblazer Award, and the national Environmental Leadership Award from Associated Landscape Contractors of America and Lawn & Landscape Magazine.

Linda sold Gardeners’ Guild to her employees in 2003. From there, she continued her education and started a sole proprietorship, Linda J. Novy & Associates, where she provides property owners with practical and ecologically based recommendations for the management and improvement of their landscapes. As a woman who does it all, she has also been a member of multiple environmental nonprofit boards, including currently serving as first vice president for the Marin Conservation League. On a quest to teach the community about ecological values, she and her sister taught classes at College of Marin’s Community Education Department and at local nurseries. Now, she shares her ecological knowledge in partnership with her clients.

“There’s always something to learn at Marin Art and Garden Center,” Linda says. “You can clearly see all the conservation efforts being made, like responsibly curated items in The Shop, the use of well water, efforts to minimize pollution, etc. Even when there aren’t events or programs,” she elaborates, “it’s nice to have the ability to walk around, sit beside the Bottle House, go up to the Barn Theater, and just enjoy the surroundings. I love coming out of a Ross Valley Players production at intermission when it’s dark and sitting by the fountain for a few moments under the stars.”

With the eye of an artist, Linda notices every intricate detail about Marin Garden Center, its design, and the level of care it takes to manage it. “The Landscape looks cared for yet natural with an element of wildness to it,” she describes. “There are surprises all around. It almost feels like different rooms with something waiting to be discovered at every turn, like a boulder with water-filled depressions offering refreshment to a butterfly passing by and of course all the interesting people enjoying themselves. It’s a refuge for the community. Anyone can go to Marin Art and Garden Center for an event when there is a lot of activity or visit when there aren’t events and savor the time alone. Since there’s always something new, there are always reasons to come back.”

From those peaceful moments with only sounds of nature, to the high-energy hums of event music, Linda flows with everything the garden has to offer. “I’ve loved coming to many birthdays and weddings. I also really enjoy the summer concerts. It’s fun to see people of all ages so enthusiastic. There are little babies, parents, single people, couples, and elders all together, and everyone gets up to dance. You can see people feeling exuberant about being alive, living in Marin, and Marin Art and Garden Center itself. It’s like a big container holding all this community energy. I continue to look forward to the concerts every year.”

“Another one of my favorite things to do is watch the dragonflies by the Fountain Pond,” Linda adds. “It’s lovely the way it attracts them as well as monarch butterflies. The milkweed is wonderful.  My dog, Luna, loves coming with me for a nice change of scenery…on a leash, of course,” she laughs. “I also love the Basketry Garden, Butterfly Cottage, Rose Garden, Habitat Garden, and Edible Garden. It’s interesting to see what grows from one season to the next. I feel it’s important to show that food can be both nourishing and ornamental.”

Marin Art and Garden Center’s relationship with Linda is mutually beneficial. She has a wealth of knowledge to share, and she in turn learns more each time she visits. “I remember talking to a volunteer in the Rose Garden about how to treat black spot,” she recalls. “I was so impressed with the answer she gave me. It was very helpful and more comprehensive than I expected. There is also a lot to learn at the many lectures, fundraisers, and workshops. Each one has its own unique draw, whether it’s about art, a political topic, wildlife, Native American history, conservation, the Master Gardeners, or something else. The diversity of programs and events is valuable in and of itself. I’ve never known another venue to host so many different kinds of events, from fun to inspirational to educational.”

Having worked with many nonprofits over the course of her life, Linda not only recognizes their value but also the resources necessary to keep them going and the urgency for contributions from the community. “There are so many demands on our time and dollars, but the return on investment to Marin Art and Garden far exceeds the cost,” she ensures. “Being at Marin Art and Garden Center is its own reward. We all need to donate or participate in some way to keep it going. These types of venues don’t happen without funds to manage the grounds, maintain structures, and execute strategic operating and capital plans. People and funds are needed for all those efforts. If everyone contributes however they can, Marin Art and Garden Center will always be here for all of us.”

More to explore

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 tod.thorpe@maringarden.org to discuss your gift to Marin Art and Garden Center