The emperor was bald

The sight of Libya’s madman-in-chief muttering nonsense from beneath an umbrella brought to mind many images of world leaders wielding other famous parasols, such as this beaut in which aides of Ukrainian Speaker Volodymyr Litvyn used brollies to deflect eggs being hurled at them. Though the umbrella is folded, this is a nice story out of the UK about how Hitler used to mock Neville Chamberlain for his trademark rain shield. This sudden absorption with umbrellas being displacement activity on a deadline day, I leave it to others to postpone some immediate chore by instead looking for file photos of famous umbrella moments. Ah, but not before adding this bit of umbrella Wiki-trivia that “in the sculptures at Nineveh the parasol appears frequently. Austen Henry Layard gives a picture of a bas-relief representing a king in his chariot, with an attendant holding a parasol over his head. It has a

The Dry Garden: Speak now or forever hold your peace

Sprinkler run-off streams down Baldwin Avenue from Los Angeles County Arboretum street plantings past the county's public works office until it is plated into a sewer system that takes it to the Pacific Ocean. This is water from a reserve that is largely imported from the Colorado River and San Francisco Bay tributaries, pumped to Southern California at huge cost to the environment, treated to potability at great expense to us, then sprayed on inappropriate hedges with inappropriate irrigation equipment so that it is quickly turned into a ribbon of polluted urban slobber. And it is the County of Los Angeles doing it in a place where residents are supposed to learn the best garden practices.

Since arriving at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden more than a year and a half ago, Chief Executive Richard Schulhof has been listening.

The region’s leading horticultural figures have been invited

Trademark this

LA Observed is the latest to pick up on a spat between a Pasadena family seeking to trademark the term “urban homestead” and the rest of the kitchen gardening world. According to Santa Monica organizers, said family even sent a cease and desist letter to the Santa Monica Public Library/Farmers Market over using the term for a panel discussion last week. There’s now a Facebook page dedicated to shaming the family. Readers, note well: It’s not just wordplay at stake. You may wake up to find your own name trademarked. A designer of spill proof placemats had the temerity to trademark my name some years ago. Given her emphasis on childish appurtenances, it’s a safe guess that I was publicly and commercially using the name long before some toddler knocked over a cup in her presence. Yet taking a patent on a byline never occurred to me. My niece is

Meet ‘Dekopon’

“I still remember the first time I tasted the legendary fruit the Dekopon. Think of a huge mandarin, easy to peel and seedless, with firm flesh that melts in the mouth, an intense sweetness balanced by refreshing acidity, and a complex, lingering mandarin orange aroma. I’ve tasted more than 1,000 varieties of citrus, and to me the Dekopon is the most delicious,” writes UC Riverside pomologist David Karp in today’s Los Angeles Times.

I have no way of knowing what else Karp has tasted in his many years traveling the country visiting orchards and writing about fruit for his weekly column in the Los Angeles Times and former columns in the New York Times and Gourmet, but I do know that the Dekopon is extraordinary, like a perfect sorbet, except made by a tree instead of a chef. David, pictured above holding a Dekopon, happened to be visiting a

‘Fracking’ update

USGS map of the Monterey Shale formation doctored by an energy website "" Click on the map to see if you live in "an area of mutual interest."

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks to do with “fracking” or the mining technique more properly called hydraulic fracturing. The Los Angeles Times reports that the oil and gas industry has written the Academy of Motion Pictures attacking the Oscar-nominated documentary “Gasland” as riddled with inaccuracies. T. Boone Pickens appeared on the Daily Show claiming, “I have fracked 3,000 wells in my life” and that “they always say that it contaminates the aquifer. I’ve never seen that happen.” Meanwhile, though the gas industry agreed to discontinue the use of diesel in fracking fluids in 2004, a congressional investigation reported late last month that more than 32 million gallons of it was used anyway. AP reports that fracking is a

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