The Dry Garden: Past as prologue

The West Adams Heritage Assn. celebrates the preservation of historic houses, but earlier this month, a markedly modern installation in Jefferson Park shared its “best garden” prize. Look at the home of Marina Moevs and Steve Peckman, and it’s obvious why: Few gardens could do a better job accenting but not overwhelming their lovingly restored Craftsman home.

After having taken pains to strip, then stain the clapboard for a weathered, muted effect, the first criterion that Moevs and Peckman put to a local garden designer was to keep the plants low. Herbs would be welcome, but they didn’t want any specimens taller than 3 feet. Furthermore, they didn’t want to water — or at least water often. Finally, they wanted to capitalize on a cash-for-grass program that offers rebates for replacing turf with a low-water alternative.

Click here to keep reading about the Peckman-Moevs project in The Dry Garden in

Mr Smith goes to council

July 6: A laughing Los Angeles City Councilman Greig Smith wipes a tear from his eye as he taunts a Department of Water & Power representative over his success in flouting and, eventually, over-turning the department's hugely successful lawn watering ordinance. The Council is expected to vote in a watered-down ordinance soon. Click on the image to be taken to the city's On Demand video service.

In June 2009, an ordinance limiting lawn and garden watering with sprinklers to two days a week took effect in Los Angeles. Citywide water consumption dropped by more than 20%.

Yet, 13 months later, the ordinance that pushed Los Angeles to the fore of the Western water conservation movement is about to be gutted, having become collateral damage in a roiling brawl over rate hikes and green energy between the City Council and the mayor’s office.

On July 6, the City Council sent the

The week that was, 7/18-24/2010

"The first time I pulled back the bushes and saw a spring, I knew those magical places would be a permanent part of my life. Our area (north Florida) offers one of the greatest natural wonders on earth. It is a giant, three-dimensional karst terrain that produces a renewable resource.... the finest water on the planet. I can think of no place on the planet more worthy of my attention and love than my own backyard." -- Photographer Wes Skiles, who died last week in a diving accident. Click on the image to be taken to his essay at Florida

The man who had filmed where no one had before – whether in the underwater caves of North Florida or on assignment for National Geographic in the blue holes of the Bahamas – died Wednesday in a diving accident off Palm Beach.– Photographer Wes Skiles brought Florida waters to

The Dry Garden: In praise of Elmer Avenue

Elmer Avenue before retrofit. Source: LASGRWC

Elmer Avenue after retrofit. Source: LASGRWC

For all-around grooviness, a Sun Valley block that two years ago had no sidewalks, no street lights, no storm drains and no curbs should be next spring’s hot ticket on the home-tour circuit. Thanks to a newly completed makeover involving one federal bureau, one state agency, as many as six city agencies, three nonprofit groups and 24 homeowners, Elmer Avenue has become the Rolls-Royce of L.A.’s Green Street initiative.

Click here to keep reading in the Los Angeles Times about how the makeover of one block in the San Fernando Valley has resulted in a mass transition to drought tolerant gardens and the capture of 16 acre feet of storm water a year.

The week that was, 7/4-10/2010

Detail from Watts Towers. Photo: Emily Green. Click on the image to read Robin Rauzi argue in the Los Angeles Times, "An Angeleno who has never toured Watts Towers is the urban equivalent of a New Yorker who has never bothered with the Statue of Liberty."

Emily Green is on vacation. The week that was will return July 25th. However, for those following the Las Vegas pipeline story, one announcement from Carson City deserves noting.

“The water rights issued to the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) under the 1989 applications in Spring Valley, Cave Valley, Dry Lake Valley and Delamar Valley will revert to application status.” — State Engineer of Nevada, July 7, 2010

Los Angeles water news is currently being most capably watched and explained by the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times. For daily round-ups of California water news, try Aquafornia, the newsfeed of

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