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RSF Garden Club Executive Director Shelly Hart, Executive Director of SMARTS Farm Polly Lankford Smith and Rambling thru the Ranch Chair Janet Lawless Christ. Photo by Christina Macone-Greene
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Trolleys ramble through Ranch

It was a sight to see in Rancho Santa Fe on May 12 as four trolley cars motored through the Covenant. The trolleys transported ticketholders of Rambling thru the Ranch for a unique adventure to visit four private estate gardens. Hosting the event was the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club.

Nearly 300 people were in attendance throughout the day.

According to Shelly Hart, the executive director of the Rancho Santa Garden Club, this was an event revival from a five-year hiatus. 

“We had this in 2011 and 2012, and it was super successful,” Hart said. “When I talked with my Activities Committee, I asked what event they’d like to bring back, and Rambling thru the Ranch was the answer.”

And in stepped Covenant resident Janet Lawless Christ, who served as the committee chairperson for Rambling thru the Ranch.

“Everyone told me to contact Janet,” Hart said. “Together, we made it happen.” 

Lawless Christ was first asked to chair the Garden Tour in 2011. She told them that she would if would was done in a completely different manner. 

“Before 2011, it had been older ladies with a boxed lunch that was probably not very tasty — they would drive their own cars out to the gardens, and that was it,” Lawless Christ said. “That didn’t seem very fun to me at all.”

Lawless Christ, who is also a real estate agent based in Rancho Santa Fe, said she changed up the energy and rented open-air trollies and designed the Rambling Through the Ranch theme.

“It’s all about being whimsical and being super fun and super easy for people to participate in,” she said. “Today, people are experiencing four completely diverse properties in Rancho Santa Fe. One home has a golf course view. One home has a canyon view that leads to the ocean. Another home has a tropical ambiance, and the other has just sensational succulents and a canyon view.”

Lawless Christ explained how the four private gardens showcase the beauty of The Covenant at Rancho Santa Fe, unveiling its diverse microclimate and topography. 

The west side is very rugged and has a lot of hills, valleys and canyons, she said, whereas the east side has more of an equestrian and estate influence. Lawless Christ said the four residences were a good reflection of The Covenant itself. 

In 2011, Lawless Christ also introduced an open-air market with vendors for attendees to peruse throughout the Rambling thru the Ranch day. 

Proceeds from Rambling thru the Ranch this year went to support SMARTS Farm.

“We’re all pretty darn lucky to be living where we are — so, that’s why we wanted to partner this year with SMARTS Farms,” she said. “It’s an urban farm in downtown San Diego which provides opportunities for creativity and self-sufficiency to underserved young people in San Diego.”

Lawless Christ was quick to point out that guests for the day just weren’t from Rancho Santa Fe. Including neighboring communities, ticketholders traveled from as far as Los Angeles.

Event sponsors included Beach City Builders, Plantology Design, Oceanside Ale Works, Midnight Jack Brewing, Bill and Fran Johnson, and Charlie and Susan Muha.

A silent raffle included items from European Bath, Caffe Positano, Foxy Treats, Chitter Chatter Sip and Splatter, Morada at the Inn, The Huntsman at the Inn, Keri Scully Yoga, You and Yours Distilling, Grangettos, Armstrongs, Swiss, North County PEMF, Model Call Salon, Holli’ Day Anyday, and Chef Joe Rojas. 

For upcoming Rancho Santa Fe Garden, events visit