Slide show at the Arboretum


Tomorrow, Thursday September 15th, I will be presenting a slide show in “Garden Talks with Lili Singer” at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia. The subject: A year in a new garden, during which 9,000 square feet of lawn was removed to make way for a mixed native and food garden. The presentation will be followed by a field trip to the garden. Click here for details.

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Image of the Day: Owens Valley

Hat tip to the Great Basin Water Network for forwarding this link to today’s image from NASA Earth Observatory of Owens Valley (formerly lake) in the Eastern Sierra. “The present-day Owens Lake was once part of a much larger lake and river system along the northeastern border of California and Nevada during the Pleistocene Epoch (about 3 million to 12,000 years ago),” reads the NASA caption. “Melt water from alpine glaciers in the Sierra Nevada filled the regional valleys of the Basin and Range to form glacial lakes—ancestors of the now-dry lakebeds (or playas) of Owens, Searles Lake, and China Lake. While Searles and China Lakes dried out because of regional changes to a hotter and drier climate, Owens Lake became desiccated largely due to the diversion of the Owens River in the early 20th century to serve the needs of Los Angeles, 266 kilometers (165 miles) to the south.”

The Dry Garden: Knowing harm

Many years ago, as a photographer and I were at work on photo essay for a Sunday magazine about some of the more accident-prone people in Britain, we found that home gardeners were high among the klutzes known by UK emergency room attendants as “heart sink patients.” Evidently the repeated sight of them made the hearts of emergency room staff sink. Their favorite times for calamity were three-day weekends, when in numbers disproportionate to the general population they fell off ladders, cut their fingers and sprained their backs. The photographer and I hoped that the photo series might reveal something about the mad cap determination of gardeners. However, before we had a chance to undertake the series in earnest, the photographer died in a plane crash.

Since moving to Los Angeles and taking up gardening, I’ve thought about that aborted series every Labor Day weekend for more than a decade.

The Dry Garden: Here’s to the Egolf Tree

An artist friend of mine calls crape myrtles “living bouquets.” In the hottest weeks of summer, the man to whom we owe thanks for the white, pink, lavender and red bouquets now before us, often un-watered and somehow unwilted, is Donald Roy Egolf. From 1958 until his death in 1990, Egolf was a plant breeder at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. His contribution was so outstanding that this column, besides constituting the deepest of bows to those wonderful plants, bears the suggestion that we rename the crape myrtle the Egolf tree, or Egolfus donaldii, so as to take in many new compact and shrub forms.

Click here to keep reading a Labor Day salute to Donald Egolf and crape myrtles in the Los Angeles Times.

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