We’ve all spent a LOT of time at home this year, and through it all, the Garden has remained a safe place to go to and spend time in nature. We know you’ve needed the fresh air, but you know who else needs it too? Elf!

The beloved character from Chanda Bell and Carol V. Aebersold’s “Elf on the Shelf” is breaking free from quarantine and heading to the Garden. Starting the week of Thanksgiving, you’ll find Elf “hiding” in different areas of the Garden. He will be in his first location starting Monday, November 23, and will moving around the Garden each week leading up to Christmas.

Is he skydiving in the Banyan Grove? Maybe. Climbing Trace in Phoebe’s Meadow? We hope not! We’ll provide tips each week on our social channels as to what he’s up to, so be sure to follow us on Instagram if you don’t already. Also, please note that Elf is going to be really busy enjoying GLOW during the evenings, so this is a daytime only activity.

And because we like a good competition, there’s a twist. Take a picture with Elf each week and post it on Instagram, tagging @scbgarden and using the #ElfintheGarden hashtag, otherwise we may not see you! Those of you who post a photo from each location will be entered to win tickets to our butterfly pavilion opening at the Garden this spring! 

Elf in the Garden Schedule

  • Location 1: November 23-29
  • Location 2: November 30-December 6
  • Location 3: December 7-13
  • Location 4: December 14-20
  • Location 5: December 21-27

Elf in the Garden Rules

  • Please do not touch or move Elf or any of his props
  • Please do not cross any barriers to get closer to Elf
  • If nobody takes a photo from each location, the winner of the contest will be whoever posted the most frequently
  • Please let the mystery remain alive, don’t give the location away in the comments of our hints (or they may be deleted!)
  • Have fun!!!!!!

Get to know Elf in the Garden

  • Name: Poppy
  • Location: Currently lives at the North Pole but is a California native
  • Family history:  Is a member of the Papaveraceae Family
  • Born: Springtime
  • Favorite Color: Orange
  • Favorite Thing to Drink: Water


The Garden has remained open to serve the community by being a place to encourage wellness and health through nature and open space. Please help keep us open by considering a gift to the Garden. You can do so here.