The Dry Garden: Lili Singer

On March 5, what has amounted to a year-long birthday party will conclude with a gala at Descanso Gardens. Everyone with $75 and a love of native plants is welcome to attend a shindig marking the 50th year of the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers & Native Plants.

Celebrating the stoic glory of our native flora is a great cause, but this isn’t just about the birthday of an organization affectionately called Teddy Payne by KPCC radio host John Rabe. It’s not even about the English seedsman for whom the foundation is named. It’s about the foundation’s special projects coordinator, the homegrown horticulturist Lili Singer, who turns 61 on Saturday and whose nearly four decades of garden teaching in Southern California has much to do with the rise of not only the Theodore Payne Foundation, but also the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, the Southern California

Pass the buffalo

The president intimated Tuesday that the Department of Interior may be in for some cuts, however  Interior Secretary Ken Salazar followed up yesterday with a shadow state of the union address for staff. Click here for the text. Included in the oratory is a pledge to “increase available water supply for agricultural, municipal, industrial, and environmental uses in the western United States by 490,000 acre feet through Reclamation’s conservation-related programs.”  Also on the promise list is increasing capacity for renewable energy on public lands, while at the same time ensuring complete environmental review. How the latter can be assured without the environmental reviews being a sham is unclear. Via the Great Basin Water Network.

State of salmon

The best quip of the President’s State of the Union address: “… the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”

Nice joke, good speech, but the laugh is a short-lived one for Californians, raising as the gag does the suggestion that in streamlining the way we manage salmon it would somehow be possible to tilt power from the agency that protects the fish when they migrate (Commerce) toward the agency that drains rivers of the fresh water that they need to breed (Interior).

Or vice versa.

This taxpayer for one is happy that Commerce is there to demand that the Endangered Species Act be invoked when salmon are imperiled by freshwater diversions to farms and cities. At the same time, this Californian is

Lights, camera, Antonio

The Los Angeles Times reports that after the Los Angeles Unified School District refused to admit ABC’s Jamie Oliver to its cafeterias, the celebrity chef has been granted an audience at West Adams Prep, one of Mayor Villaraigosa’s cluster schools.

If this is not part of the mayor’s long-running political tug-of-war with the school board, then it looks like it.

For how Oliver has used Facebook to urge parents to write school board members to demand that the district accommodate him, click here.

For how the ABC reality TV program opened Oliver’s nutrition ministry in Westwood, many freeway off ramps never mind bus stops from West Adams Prep (or any low income community), click here.

For how Oliver’s been larking around town conducting stunts, including filling a school bus with sand as if it were sugar, click here.

Meanwhile, for a source other than school lunches

The Dry Garden: Dead in the pot

Planting season in Southern California is rarely busier than midwinter, when nursery lots crammed with Christmas trees give way to displays of fruit trees and roses. If you’re haunting stores to select an apricot tree, a flowering bramble, a hedge or even a specimen tree, plant pathologist Jim Downer has a message for you: “Good gardening starts with good plant selection.”

By which he means: If the stock you find is root-bound, walk away.

Click here to keep reading The Dry Garden in the Los Angeles Times.

keep looking »