Change in a place sold for its climate

Posted on | July 20, 2017 | No Comments

A 1929 brochure of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, courtesy of the Oviatt Library, Cal State Northridge/KCET

Ask an Angeleno to name a plant that is as instantly synonymous with the Southland as the saguaro is with Arizona and the answer will be “palm.” Yet most of the palms dusting the Southland sky are species not native to the U.S. None has its origins in Los Angeles County. The same exotic rule pertains to most of the region’s iconic plants, be they bougainvillea, jacaranda, or bird of paradise. Nowhere else in the country have imported flora so overpowered the native. (Imagine if bamboo and not dogwood were the iconic plant of Virginia.)

Yet, California is different and Southern California is very different. Of the many factors that allowed our garden culture to un-moor itself from evolution, the most fundamental is water. We had it. When it ran low, we imported more. Only now that water has become scarcer and people more common are the plants we grow finally changing. Click here to keep reading “Water, Native Plants, and Southern California’s Long History of Unsustainable Gardening”  at KCET.

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