The Dry Garden: Capturing the spirit of LA’s streams

Posted on | December 11, 2009 | No Comments

Contemporary map of the Ballona Creek watershed with overlay of 1902 streams and wetlands. Source: "Seeking Streams" by Jessica Hall

Contemporary map of the Ballona Creek watershed with overlay of 1902 streams and wetlands. Source: "Seeking Streams" by Jessica Hall et al, 606 Studio, Cal Poly Pomona.

WHEN it snows in the mountains and rains in the basin, Jessica Hall thinks of the lost streams of Los Angeles. In fact, she thinks of them all the time. For the last nine years, the 41-year-old garden designer has been retracing the paths of the native creeks, streams and springs that once ran wild before they were filled in and paved for homes.

In the process, Hall has come to believe that the best town planning and landscape design principles for the future may lie in understanding the habits of the watercourses of the past.

Those who missed the profile of Hall last August by Times staff writer Hector Tobar have a treat in store reading about how Hall tracked down Sacatela Creek, a jewel of a waterway that once flowed from what is now the Shakespeare Bridge in Franklin Hills to the Ambassador Hotel in mid-Wilshire. If Los Angeles ever wakes up to the potential of “daylighting” lost waterways, Hall will have been part of the story.

But this column picks up where the Tobar article left off, in particular to ask: What has this Princeton architecture graduate learned chasing streams that may be applied to capturing storm water at home and making the good choices when designing a garden?

Click here to keep reading about Jessica Hall in the Los Angeles Times Dry Garden column.

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