Giving thanks for wattle

Homeowners can easily recycle grass and leaves. But why give city green bins woody trimmings that can be made into borders. Why not use these sticks, whose old world name is "wattle"? Wattle on.

Mr Villaraigosa, rip out that lawn


Occupy LA sign on tree, LA City Hall, October, 2011. No nails used. Photo: Emily Green

Whatever the accomplishments of Occupy L.A. when it finally decamps — or gets evicted — from around City Hall, one positive achievement is already clear: It has killed the lawn.

The Times’ editorial board has harrumphed about the taxpayer expense of replacing one of downtown’s “rare green spaces,” and it worries that the “majestic figs” are at risk. Last week, the Department of Recreation and Parks sent an aggrieved letter to the mayor about signs nailed to trees, broken sprinkler heads and compacted soil. The nails and compacted soil are unfortunate. But really, Rec and Parks is missing the point. Occupy L.A. has given City Hall the chance to walk its talk.

Click here to keep reading my call for climate-appropriate landscaping around LA City Hall in the op-ed pages of the Los

Cheer up. We may die

“The globe experienced its eighth warmest October since record keeping began in 1880,” reported the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today. “Arctic sea ice extent was the second smallest extent on record for October at 23.5 percent below average. Additionally, La Niña conditions strengthened during October 2011. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, La Niña is expected to continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter.” To keep reading, click here.

For those of you who missed Bettina Boxall’s characteristically vivid reporting for the Los Angeles Times on the seldom noted dark twin of Southern California water consumption — the vast energy suck required to pump water here from the Colorado River and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta — click here.

The Dry Garden: A shear education

One of the first things that I wanted to do in my new garden last year was to cut down the persimmon tree at the center of the large backyard. As early rains stripped the last of the leaves from its limbs and crows pecked at a few fruit, it looked less like a tree and more like an accident scene. Had the person who pruned its tangle of stumped and crossed limbs been a maniac? A gaping crack where the main branches met the trunk looked like it had been smote from heaven.

Only catching sight of its last fall leaves at twilight stopped me. A year later, restoring that wounded tree has become one of my passions. After scant fruit last year, this fall the tree — perhaps 10 feet tall and 12 feet wide — has produced so much fruit that I’ve called in friends and told

“Isn’t it true …”

It was a long day yesterday and watching a lawyer for Las Vegas question a water analyst from a California wasn’t supposed to be part of it, until it was. Seldom are courtroom proceedings in real life better than they are on, say, “The Good Wife.” But for the first half of Wednesday, November 9th, 2011, in the on-going Carson City hearings over whether or not to grant a Las Vegas pipeline water from four rural Nevada valleys, reality won.

Appearing for Las Vegas was Steven Sims, a New Mexico-based lawyer better known in California as counsel for the Westlands Water District, the Central Valley corporate farm interest dedicated to overturning the Endangered Species Act the better to siphon massive amounts of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta without regard to water needs of fish.

Appearing as an expert witness for opponents of the pipeline was Peter Gleick

keep looking »