Gary Parton escorts guests through his lilac garden. Photos by Barbara Reese

The weather is cooperating. No late spring snows are in the forecast. And lilacs are blooming at Gary Parton’s Alpenglow Botanical Lilac Garden at 25025 Fern Valley Road.

And Parton, indefatigable in his devotion to and propagation of lilacs in Idyllwild, plans to accommodate an expanding event schedule at his graciously groomed garden grounds. The gardens are currently open for walk-throughs and although not all lilacs throughout Parton’s one-acre venue are now in bloom, more of the 300 permanent plants begin to flower each day of full sunlight.

Parton’s April events and his ever-expanding garden are homages to Reva Baldreich, Idyllwild’s “Lilac Lady,” widely known for the annual tours of her lilac garden. Baldreich died in 2009. Parton started his garden tours in 2010.

A path of lilacs at Parton’s Alpenglow Botanical Lilac Garden.
Events begin on Friday, May 11, with an Idyllwild School private tea honoring school volunteers. Then the next weekend, a public event co-hosted by the Idyllwild Garden Club with participation by the Art Alliance of Idyllwild begins at 11 a.m., Saturday, May 19. This year the popular Victorian Tea and docent-guided walk features orchestral entertainment by Buzz Holmes and his Idyllwild School Orchestra. Last year’s event was noteworthy for the lavishness of the tea service, the variety and beauty of Parton’s many different lilac varietals, and the opportunity to watch working artists in the process of creation. This year, all those elements are again in place. The tea will only be served from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

AAI’s Gary Kuscher anticipates having at least 26 artists over the two days at this year’s event. Some will be painting and many others displaying their work at strategic places throughout Parton’s garden. “A majority of the artists featured last year are returning,” said Kuscher. Three-dimensional art will be displayed in the garden’s front entry circle. Tickets for the guided garden walk are $5 and $15 additional for the tea. Any patron who attends on Saturday will also receive admission to a new Sunday extension of the docent-guided walks.

The May 20 event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features a wine bar and musical entertainment with award-winning Idyllwild Arts pianist Luca Jacaruso, and his guitarist father Don ‘Jac’ Jacaruso. The ticket price for Sunday is $5. Wine pourings from the wine bar, provided by Idyll Awhile, are available for a fee.

Tickets for the May 19 and 20 events can be purchased at the entry, Idyllwild Pharmacy, INK Gathering Bookstore, or online at

Parton said he is also planning for an event in July The gardens will host an evening of bagpipes on Tuesday, July 3, featuring a proper Highlands dinner and a “Ceremony of the Haggis” to help fund the University of California Riverside Pipe Band, current Grade 4 Western United States Pipe Band Association Champions. The next day the Pipe Band marches in the annual Idyllwild Fourth of July Parade.

Then in October, Parton and volunteers begin planting 300 more lilacs in the town center, leaving 300 to be planted next year, bringing the total to 1,000 in 2013.

Parton hopes to launch a Lilac Festival in 2014 with the support of a number of local nonprofit organizations. He notes that flower festivals are popular tourist draws in the United States.