[KHTS] – Nine separate gardens were showcased free-of-charge throughout Santa Clarita Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm, for the 8th annual Memorial Garden Tour to benefit the Cole William Larsen Foundation.
This non-profit organization was created by Christi Larsen following the the death of her son, Cole Larsen, a member of the 272nd Military Police Company, who was killed in 2004 during the Iraq war. Larsen was at the home of Diane and Bob Benjamin in Canyon Country to speak with visitors to the garden.
Larsen said the Memorial Garden Tour has been a way to give back to the community and provide assistance to important organizations serving veterans and their families, such as the Wounded Warrior Project and the Tragedy Assistance Program For Survivors, Inc.
“I thought this would be the perfect event to hold in Santa Clarita and raise money,” Larsen said. “I got very involved with TAPS, for families of fallen military, and I wanted to show support for them, and for our wounded veterans who are coming home and transitioning back into society after dealing with traumatic injuries.”
The 2014 Memorial Garden Tour was a self-guided tour of different homes and areas throughout Santa Clarita. Donations for the foundation were being accepted at all Nine sites Sunday.
In addition to WWP and TAPS, Larsen said the Cole William Larsen Foundation has also set up a scholarship for students at Canyon High School, the school Cole attended, and provides donations to local charities such as Habitat for Humanity.
Diane Benjamin, who was showcasing her garden for the eighth time, said she participates in order to provide support for Larsen and others who have suffered through similar tragedies.
“[The exhibitors] love to support the foundation and share our gardens, because gardeners love to share,” Benjamin said. “Were selling raffle tickets and all money goes to benefit the Cole William Larsen Foundation, which helps veterans, WWP and TAPS.
Benjamin’s garden, at her home in Canyon Country, was made up of a series of gardens, including a shade garden, vegetable garden, herb garden and rose garden, Benjamin said.
Laima Zbojniewicz, another exhibitor on the Memorial Garden Tour, said she was happy to provide support for the Cole William Larsen Foundation and excited to talk to visitors about her garden.
“[Christi] Larsen originally wanted to raise funds for the two organizations, Wounded Warriors and TAPS, that helped her survive the loss of her son,“ Zbojniewicz said. “[The exhibotors] are all passionate garden enthusiasts who open up their gardens for a good cause.”
Zbojniewicz said her garden, at her home in Valencia, was based on a drought tolerant approach, and the idea of inviting visitors to her home.
“I think a front yard garden creates a welcoming entrance to your home,” Zbojniewicz said. “I chose drought tolerant plants which you cut each winter and come back every spring.”
For those who missed the tour but still wish to donate, checks can be made out to the Cole William Larsen Foundation and sent to Christi Larsen at 8560 Bella Oaks Drive, Sparks, Nev. 89441.
For more information about the 2014 Memorial Garden Tour, visit the events website, here.