Changing the equation

Los Angeles garden designer Marilee Kuhlmann was one of eighty homeowners who opened their gardens last weekend for the Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase. Photo: Emily Green / Chance of Rain

In so many conventional gardens with lawn and hedges, the equation is:

Water = sprinkler run-off and plant growth = Pacific pollution and mowing and pruning = noise and air pollution = green waste = more noise and air pollution.

Most of us know how destructive it is but have little idea how to change. Last week, the Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase in Los Angeles set out to show the way. In what felt less like a garden tour and more like a happening, eighty West Los Angeles homeowners who have taken out turf to create gardens that trap rainwater, produce food and have well-adapted flora opened their homes to the public. Here, the new equation is:


The week that was, 4/18-24/2010

Alcove, Zion National Park. Photo: Ed Firmage, Jr, the park's photographer in residence. Click on the image for Firmage's website and online presentation "Western Water: The Coming Crisis."

“It was boring! Boring, how could it be anything else? You can’t see out from the bottom of a canyon.” — Federal Bureau of Reclamation Floyd Dominy recounting his raft trip down the Colorado with Sierra Club president David Brower, “Floyd Dominy, the colossus of dams, dies at 100,” High Country News, April 23, 2010

It is simply a matter of time before Lake Powell becomes the world’s largest mud catchment, rendering the 710-foot-tall dam useless. — Colorado River water policy faces an age of limits,” Salt Lake Tribune, April 20, 2010

Drought, in other words, takes on something of the character of the society it keeps. If that society lives on the edge, then drought shows up

Floyd Dominy, 1909-2010

Click on the photo of Glen Canyon Dam to enlarge the image, or click on the Dominy napkin sketch of the same thing for a beautiful account of a 1997 dinner at the former Reclamation commissioner's home by Glen Canyon Institute president Richard Ingebretsen. "We met at his house in the afternoon. On his several acre property were over one dozen dams; he is a beaver to be sure," Ingebretsen wrote.

“Floyd Dominy, who made it his mission to improve nature by, among other things, damming the Colorado River at Glen Canyon and creating the more user-friendly Lake Powell, has died at the age of 100,” reports the High Country News.

“Some had hoped that Glen Canyon Dam would go first … ” To keep reading click here.

Click on the birthday invitation for a remembrance of Dominy by the US Bureau of Reclamation.

The Dry Garden: A novel place

Read the novel “Blame” and it comes as no surprise that author Michelle Huneven gardens, or that she is Southern Californian. There is no inventing the familiarity in the descriptions of buckwheat “drying to a dark iron red,” the hurl-me weight after a rain of a clump of freshly pulled long grass, or how wildfire embers fly “like fat, radiant insects.”

The surprise comes on seeing her foothill garden for the first time, and realizing that such an overwhelmingly sensuous world is so accessible — that we all could all fill the land around our homes with scents, textures, flowers, fruit and vegetables if only we gave up lawn. Click here to keep reading The Dry Garden interview with Michelle Huneven in the Los Angeles Times.

And click here for information about this Sunday’s Mar Vista tour of 80 gardens that have all forsaken turf for food and

Glen Canyon Dam and the pill from MIT

This one is strictly for water wonks. Now that I’ve cleared the room, Richard Spotts of the Great Basin Water Network alerted me to this paper from the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law. “Collaborative Planning and Adaptive Management in Glen Canyon: A Cautionary Tale” looks at the impact of changing environmental regulation on the operations of the second largest dam on the Colorado River. It then wades through the on-going efforts to resolve the succession of shit storms that followed the 1956 construction of Glen Canyon Dam.

The authors, two from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the third from the University of California, Irvine write, “The Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program should not be considered a success because it has failed to address effectively the concerns that led to its creation in the first place, including:  (1) developing a stakeholder-supported operating plan responsive to increased understanding; (2)

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