A decade of change

I had the honor this week of being a guest speaker before both the California Native Plant Society and Lili Singer’s Garden Talk audience at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden. The subject: A decade of gardening, during which time I took my 8,000 square foot lot near downtown Los Angeles from a conventional turf & mow model to a Mediterranean climate/native garden that runs largely on local rainfall and sees power tools only every two years during pruning season. This photo essay captures that progression. My apologies to the CNPS audience, who last Sunday endured a PowerPoint failure. Here, belatedly, are the images. My thanks to Steve Hartman of CNPS, Lili Singer of the Theodore Payne Foundation and Jill Berry, Ted Tegart and Cynthia Vargas of the Arboretum for challenging me to put together this photo diary, then helping it come together. To see the full photo

The week that was, 9/26-10/2/2010

Ceiling of the Sunol Water Temple in Sunol, California. Designed by Willis Polk, the temple marks the convergence the Alameda Creek, Arroyo de la Laguna and the Pleasanton Well Fields. Click on the image for a Contra Costa Times account of its centennial last weekend. Image source: Wikipedia.

The Tribal Council on Wednesday tabled a bill that would have given the tribe 31,000 acre-feet of water a year from the Colorado River, the un-appropriated surface flows from the Little Colorado River and nearly unlimited access to two aquifers beneath the reservation. — Navajo lawmakers table proposed water settlement, Associated Press/Arizona Capitol Times, September 30, 2010

“I urge the Senate to pass S.2891, the Hoover Dam Power Allocation Act, which reauthorizes the dam for the next 50 years and expands access to its power to Native Americans and other previously excluded groups.” — Press release, Grace Napolitano commemorates 75th

Native plants, native water

I will be presenting slide shows this coming week, tomorrow at 12noon at the California Native Plant Society’s Sale in Encino and Thursday at 9.30am as Lili Singer’s guest at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia, about the conversion from a conventional garden (above) to a largely native one (below). The upshot was a massive increase in shade and wildlife value, elimination of storm water run-off and steep decrease in maintenance fees and water use. Judge for yourself as to beauty. For details about tomorrow’s talk, click here, for Thursday’s here. Click on photos to enlarge.

The Dry Garden: Not cool

The most common mistake bruited about Los Angeles is that it’s in a desert. It’s not. It’s in one of five of the world’s Mediterranean climate zones, which means that it has a largely temperate but dry climate with winter rain and rainless summers. That said, last Monday, we got a taste of what really living in a desert is like. Santa Ana winds out of the high desert of the Great Basin drove temperatures to 113F in downtown Los Angeles. If your garden wasn’t stressed, you probably don’t have one. Click here for this week’s Dry Garden column in the LA Times on how to irrigate in Southern California during the October-December Santa Ana season.

High good, low bad: Mead in September 2010

Source: Boulder City Historical Assn. Click on the image to be taken to its website.

Seventy five years ago, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated Hoover Dam. The concrete is looking good. The thing showing its age is the Colorado River water impounded behind it. The elevation of Lake Mead, the storage reservoir serving California, Arizona, Nevada and the Republic of Mexico, dropped last night to 1,083.83 feet, the lowest closing elevation for September since 1937. That year, the world’s then largest reservoir was still filling. Now its over-allocated water is steadily disappearing. Elsewhere in the Bad News Department, the river serving it is unlikely to be flush this coming winter according to a new study comparing drought stress evident from tree rings and ocean currents. Rather, in Long-Term Relationships Between Ocean Variability and Water Resources in Northeastern Utah, RAND Corp researcher Abbie Tingstad and UCLA geographer Glen MacDonald suggest

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