Avoiding pollution, drought’s evil twin

Drought has rewritten accepted orthodoxy about yard care. Among the things to do: water less often, more deeply. Rake. Compost. Squarely on the list of things not to do: fertilize, apply pesticides or use leaf blowers. Advice from a veteran garden writer about dry season good practice.

Third year in the garden

Successes, failure, a few good sources and seemingly endless engineering challenges in building an Altadena orchard that harvests local rainwater.

Two years in Altadena

Lawn removal, asphalt removal, wildflower conversion crops and rainwater harvesting are touched on in this two year picture diary from an Altadena, California garden

Aroused by rain

The appearance of this mushroom after a much-needed rain in the Los Angeles foothills demanded that I Find The Camera. In the interim between putting the photo on Facebook this morning with a request for an ID and getting a response to an e-mailed query from Los Angeles County Natural History Museum mycologist Florence Nishida this evening, speculation as to its genus involved unbridled merriment. Southern California resident treasure, memoirist Erika Schickel, ventured that it was a Micropenisula shlongaeria. My own suspicion had been a Phallus anthonyweinerii. After more ribald speculation and some genuine mycological story-telling on the social network, Nishida’s response by e-mail in early evening had a “eureka” quality.

You are a lucky girl,” she wrote, “nature has gifted you with a stinkhorn, aka phalloid fungus. It’s probably Lysurus borealis, though another species is very common in southern California, Lysurus mokusin. Just looking at your

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

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    Emily Green by e-mail at emily.green [at] mac.com
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