High good, low bad: Mead in March 2011

Click on the map to be taken to the US Drought Monitor.

Smart people object to the term “drought” being applied to the water supply of the Western US. Dryness is not necessarily drought in a dry place, they say, no matter how rashly you might overdevelop that place.

So, this being the week of April Fools, these strict interpreters might agree with California that, after heavy winter precipitation, the Golden State is no longer in a drought. To drought skeptics, it never was. It’s simply full of fools who view the state’s massive system of reservoirs much like a drunk assesses a whisky bottle.

To us drunks, however, the world looks very different here in California. The drought is on when we don’t get what we want, and it’s over when we do. It has nothing to do with the health of the waterways that we siphon, the

The Dry Garden: “Reimagining the California Lawn”

Maybe you want to remove your lawn. Maybe you want to reduce it to make way for flowers, food or a shade tree. Maybe you don’t know what you want. A new book, written by three of California’s most knowledgeable horticulturists, lays out options.

It would be disingenuous to treat Reimagining the California Lawn (Cachuma Press, 2011) like any other garden book. It’s not. The authors have close to rock star status in the Golden State, something they possessed even before the 2005 publication of their first book, California Native Plants for the Garden.

Carol Bornstein, now a Central California garden designer, was for many years director of horticulture of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. The heart-stoppingly beautiful meadow there is her work. In 1976, David Fross co-founded Native Sons Nursery in Arroyo Grande and has since been the Johnny Appleseed of dry gardening. For many years

April fully loaded

Lemonade entrepreneurs kept visitors hydrated at last year's Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase.

April 2011 may go down in the record books as the best month ever for tours, classes and plant sales held by Southern California’s gathering water and energy conservation movements. Click here for a full listing, then ready your date books. By all means check out the rest of the March calendar as well.

From water, dreams, art

“THERE is found in widely separated parts of Australia a belief in a huge serpent, which lives in certain pools or water-holes. This serpent is associated, and sometimes identified, with the rainbow. In many instances, it is also associated with quartz-crystal, doubtless from the prismatic colours visible in the latter. Now rock-crystal, in a great number of Australian tribes, is regarded as a substance of great magical virtue,” wrote the late English anthropologist, Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, in “The Rainbow-Serpent Myth of Australia.”

This photo series records a glimmering recent incarnation of the rainbow serpent, or dream snake, in the Australian garden at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden. Commissioned in 2008, the project was overseen by Arboretum artist-in-residence Leigh Adams, who gives a gripping account of the dream snake legend at her website. “Before all this was here, there was dreaming, only dreaming

The Dry Garden: Don’t fence me in

The iconic images of Los Angeles sold to the world typically involve palm trees, beaches and freeways. Those of us who live here, however, know that the true symbol of Southern California is probably a fence. Fences are everywhere. Chain link fences, wrought iron fences, barbed wire fences. Brick, cinderblock, and river rock fences. There is so much redwood fencing that it’s a wonder there are any redwoods left.

Leaving aside how ironic it is that there should be outcry about a proposed fence for the home of the mayor of the city of fences, what is rarely considered in our highly framed world is what all this fencing does to plants. This is worth addressing because that impact is profound.

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


keep looking »