The shady politics of urban greening


Glare alone creates the long shadows of Los Angeles. So squinting was inevitable when the city announced the appointment of arborist Rachel Malarich as its “first-ever” forest officer. According to the announcement by Mayor Eric Garcetti, as part of the administration’s Green New Deal, the new forest officer will plant 90,000 new trees in two years. These in turn are expected to provide 61 million square feet of shade in underserved areas.

Glare defines Los Angeles. So squinting was inevitable when the city announced the appointment of arborist Rachel Malarich as its “first-ever” forest officer. Her job, part of the city’s Green New Deal, is to plant 90,000 trees in the next two years. Creation of an estimated 61.3 million square feet of new shade in tree-poor communities is to be done just as the city weans itself from half of its imported water, with a lion’s share of …

Change in a place sold for its climate

Imported water gave Southern California's public gardens and urban canopy a tropical wash. Drought is re-landscaping the region.

Joke shaming water wasters works

The EPA veto of Colorado's massive Two Forks Dam ended the era of big infrastructure and forced Denver to take the lead in urban water conservation.

The Dry Garden: Eco-snooping

The problem with selling native plants in garden centers is that the natives are reluctant seducers. For much of the autumn and winter — prime planting months in California — they’re discreet. Their foliage comes in the understated colors of a Craftsman paint palette. Give the plants too much water, and they rot in their pots. Flowers are few. Only in spring, usually far from town, safe distances from our hoses, do native lilacs lead the charge into blossom with a cobalt-blue eruption. After them come the pink and white spires of coral bells and clarkia, masses of orange poppies, along with every color of penstemon, irises and monkeyflowers. Only shoppers who know what a native looks like in spring can envision its potential in the fall, when it’s time to buy and plant.

By comparison, exotic plants are favored by retailers because their leaves often come in leprechaun greens.

Foothill outdoor watering ban

Customers of Pasadena Water & Power and the eight water agencies that make up the Foothill Municipal Water District are being asked to cease all outdoor water use from March 18 through 28 while the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California does seismic work on its Weymouth Treatment Plant in LaVerne. During the work, Metropolitan will stop all water deliveries to Pasadena and neighboring foothill cities. The Pasadena Garden Club is marking the occasion by asking me to speak at its meeting on March 22nd. At a guess, my message that we should drastically cut outdoor irrigation year-round in an effort to save energy used to convey water, eliminate contaminated sprinkler run-off into the Pacific and relax pressure on the Colorado River and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will be about as popular as a bartender prescribing a 12-step program.

Meanwhile, these photos, taken last weekend at the Water Conservation California Friendly

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