Top Five Places to Plant Yourself (for lunch)

As much as I enjoy working at Marin Art & Garden Center, one of the things I’ve missed the most while we’ve been sheltering in place are my lunch breaks. Can you blame me, when I get to sit outside surrounded by beautiful gardens while I eat my lunch and read a book? We know everyone loves to spread a blanket on the lawns for a picnic, but to protect the grass and maintain social distancing, we are now asking visitors to find other ways to dine al fresco. Over the years I’ve been working here, I’ve become quite the expert on the best places to sit and eat around the grounds, so let me take you on a tour of some options.

1. Memory Garden. This is a year-round winner, because there are three very comfortable benches and one of them is almost always in the sun or shade, so you’re set whether you’re looking to warm up or cool off. It’s enough out of the way that you’ll be left undisturbed, and you have an excellent vantage point above the rest of the grounds. This little alcove has been under the care of the Marin Garden Club for decades, and features a statue by Adeline Kent to keep you company.

2. Stratford Gardens. I like this spot best in the summer, where you can perch on the retaining wall that is well shaded and low enough to the ground for short people like me to sit comfortably. There are also benches around several of the trees that are a little higher. I love the view of the planted bed that screens off the gardens from the rest of the grounds, it’s particularly lush this year.

3. The Gazebo. You can’t picnic on the grass but this is the next best thing. You never have to worry about too much sun and there’s a nice solid bench with a sweeping(ish) vista of the lawn and the triangle bed. You can even imagine you’re one of the bands playing at our Summer Concert series—next year, music lovers!

4. Under the English Oak. You are almost guaranteed a cool spot on the bench under this ancient tree whose spreading branches create an enchanted mossy microclimate. The benches are on the low side, helpful if you’re here with kids, and you can read the names of donors along the brick path if you forgot to bring your book.

5. Magnolia Circle stone wall. My cool-weather afternoon favorite, because if you sit facing the Magnolia, the sun hits your back and is warming without glare. Of course if you sit facing the path you’re in an ideal people-watching situation, and when I’m keeping an eye out for visitors coming to the office, I have a direct view of oncoming traffic.

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 to discuss your gift to Marin Art and Garden Center