Fall crept 'round the corner early this week, offering a peek at what's to come and a chance to dig out an old sweater.
I spent a little time one cool morning wandering in yet another of those places in Southwest County I'd only recently discovered.
Rose Haven is the home of the Temecula Valley Rose Society.
The 3‑acre garden park at Jedediah Smith Road and Cabrillo Avenue in the Rancho Santiago area of Temecula, Rose Haven was first planted with roses by the society in 1990.
Today it is among the region's prettiest parks – with more than 2,000 roses and other plants in bloom – and, though not far off the beaten path, largely undiscovered.
"You'd be surprised how many people have no idea we're here," society member Ann Coakes told me.
Trails in the park, which is open to the public from dawn to dusk, wander up and down the hilly landscape passing by gardens filled with not only roses, but also collections of native California plants and other "water‑wise" vegetation.
There are also picnic tables, benches, a small pond and a gazebo.
"It's a wonderful place to bring a picnic lunch," Coakes said. "Or you can just walk around and look."
The rose society bought the property from Riverside County in 2005 after the previous owner failed to pay property taxes on the parcel and a regional water‑pipe easement made building a home on the land impractical.
The 100‑member society maintains the park, with the help of high school students working off community service hours, Scout troops and other community volunteers.
Although the work is all voluntary – and a labor of love for most – there are costs involved with maintaining the garden, especially water, and for the improvements the society hopes to make to the park, including adding paving stones to the pathways to make them more accessible.
Two upcoming events will help raise much needed funds for the nonprofit group.
From 9 AM to noon Saturday, the society will hold its first ever plant sale at the park.
"We've been growing roses and other plants to sell," Coakes said.
A week later, on Sept. 26, the society will hold its "Last Rose of Summer" fundraiser at the park. Music, food and beverages will be part of the fun along with a number of auction items. The event takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. and a $25 donation is suggested. Reservations are required.
"This is the second time we've done this," said Coakes, who is the event's chairwoman. "We've got a swing band coming to play, we'll serve hors d'oeuvres and beverages and it should be a fun evening."