The Dry Garden: A visit with Susan Gottlieb

Posted on | September 18, 2009 | No Comments

California buckwheat. Photo: Francine Orr/LA Times

Buckwheat in the garden of Susan Gottlieb. Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times. All rights reserved. Click on the florets to be taken to the Los Angeles Times Dry Garden column

Susan Gottlieb. Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles TimesThey say that beauty comes from within, but in the case of Susan Gottlieb, it seems to come from the world around her. She is, at 67, not pretty, not handsome, but storybook beautiful. The former nurse has such an Alice in Wonderland-like grace and lightness that as she hops around her 1-acre garden in Beverly Hills, enchantment sets in.

Is she quite human?

Her husband, lawyer Daniel Gottlieb, chuckles thinking back to when he first showed his bride-to-be the house in the late 1980s. “She looked at the back said, ‘It’s all covered with ivy. There’s nothing for the birds.’ I said, ‘Can’t the birds make do with ivy?’ ”’

By 1990, the ivy was on its way out and Susan Gottlieb began putting in a native garden chosen precisely because of the local flora’s unique benefit to local fauna. That act would in turn give rise to the visitors on Theodore Payne Foundation garden tours, to the garden’s certification as backyard habitat with the National Wildlife Federation and to the Gottliebs’ becoming patrons of the water conservation movement in Los Angeles. Click here to continue reading this week’s Dry Garden column in the Los Angeles Times.


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