Through a dragon brightly

Posted on | January 13, 2014 | 1 Comment

Jolino Beserra

Asked in December 2012 by the Trust for Public Land to create a children’s climbing frame for a Los Angeles park, artist Jolino Beserra decided to cover it with thousands of pieces of broken tile, crockery and glass. The Trust agreed.  Click here to keep reading


Third year in the garden

Posted on | December 17, 2013 | 8 Comments


This set of pictures captures a year in which I was away from the garden on a writing assignment for more time than I would have wished. Then, when home, I was inordinately preoccupied by the construction of new living quarters. But it is a source of tired satisfaction to report that, barring primping, the most important things in the garden were done and, for the most part, done right. Click here to keep reading


Judge decrees awards of rural water for Las Vegas “arbitrary and capricious”

Posted on | December 11, 2013 | No Comments

Natural spring in Spring Valley, Nevada

Spring Valley wetlands near the Great Basin National Park targeted by a Las Vegas pipeline. Photo: Emily Green

UPDATED 12/12: A Nevadan district judge has invalidated the largest groundwater awards in the Silver State’s history. In a decision published Tuesday, Senior District Judge Robert Estes found assurances from Nevada State Engineer Jason King that the engineer’s office could monitor impact of Las Vegas pumps proposed for rural valleys covering more than 20,000 square miles and drafting more than 27 billion gallons a year “arbitrary and capricious.” Click here to keep reading


Three days in Seattle

Posted on | November 20, 2013 | No Comments

Madison Valley Stormwater Project

An Angeleno giving a talk on landscape solutions for stormwater pollution in Seattle is a case of taking coal to Newcastle, but I did it anyway in an October 2013 address to the Northwest Horticultural Society. It was a revelation when hosts Gregory Graves and Ann LeVasseur of the NHS took me around the greater Seattle area to visit a number of gardens, including four stormwater projects. This Flickr set contains photos of a remarkable green street grid in the Broadview area, the “Growing Vine Street” project downtown, the “Swale on Yale” in the South Lake Union neighborhood and the madly impressive Madison Valley Stormwater Project near the Washington Park Arboretum.



In praise of Bart O’Brien

Posted on | November 14, 2013 | 7 Comments

Bart O'Brien

Rancho Santa Ana horticulturist Bart O’Brien spots a Humboldt lily during a hike in La Tuna Canyon, Los Angeles County.

Humboldt lily

Humboldt lily in La Tuna Canyon detail. Photos: Emily Green

Expecting a generous reaction to the news that Bart O’Brien is taking over directorship of the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in the Bay Area’s Tilden Park asks too much of an Angeleno. Berkeley’s gain is a staggering loss for Southern California, specifically for the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, where O’Brien has worked for more than 20 years. As Rancho’s director of horticulture, and later leader of its special projects, O’Brien introduced generations of homeowners and no few directors of water companies to plants perfectly adapted to our dry climate. The importance of this work cannot be overstated. These stoic plants and not squelching lawn will green our cities as more people are faced with getting along on less water.

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