Posted on | April 16, 2010 | 2 Comments
Los Angeles was sold to the world as the place where anything grew. As if to prove it, more than 10,000 exotic plants were tested last century on the grounds of the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden in Arcadia. “The original notion was that it would be a big, big trial ground to see what could flourish in L.A.,” explained Richard Schulhof.
According to the Arboretum’s recently appointed chief executive officer, this makes the arboretum’s collection a living history. So many of the plants tested flourished that roughly half a century later, eucalyptus, palms and bamboo compete with cedars for space in the skyscape. Not that you have to drive to the foothill community next to Santa Anita race track to witness this style of festooning eclecticism. It came to grip all of Southern California.
Six months into his job, one of the challenges facing Schulhof is what to do with the great big collection of exotica. The biggest crisis facing the arboretum may just be that the taste for thirsty imported plants that built the place is bringing down the region. So much of Southern California’s urban water supply goes toward garden irrigation that utilities have started paying customers to abandon exotic planting schemes for native and drought-tolerant ones.
Click here to keep reading The Dry Garden profile of Richard Schulhof in the Los Angeles Times.