Since you asked

Interviewing Richard Schulhof should have been simple, a rote exercise of announcing that the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden has a new Chief Executive Officer, imparting a few quotes as to his plans, then wrapping it up with a time-will-tell remark. That’s the approach that I took six years ago, when the last CEO arrived.

It was about as successful as the last CEO, who in 2008 left the place much as he found it — an Arcadia picnic ground full of exotic plants and free-ranging peafowl.

The recent decision to interview the Titanic’s, excuse me, the Arboretum’s new CEO was a reluctant one. In fact, it was made only after Schulhof gamely responded to a dismissive reference on this site to the effect that the Arboretum’s 127 acres are a monument to the gardenesque philosophy that is draining our water supply.

“I thank you for throwing

“Habitat as fuel”

The phrase is James Deacon’s. The University of Nevada biologist used the equation during a 2007 interview to describe the relationship between Las Vegas and the desert ecosystems of the Mojave and Great Basin. It’s borrowed here because Deacon’s observation applies equally well to the impact of cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego and Phoenix on the Colorado River, lakes of the Eastern Sierra and Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

On the face of it, the average city dweller in Los Angeles seems fine with water being drawn from wild places to create an emerald island of lawn and ficus trees. It’s almost certainly a case of ignorance as bliss. At a wild guess, one in 500,000 Angelenos may be aware that our major water wholesaler is suing the federal Interior and Commerce departments, with our money and in our name no less, in order to upend Endangered Species

Do nothing, do good

This 2009 photo by Allen J. Schaben of the Los Angeles Times captures the dynamics of Southern California's native watersheds in one shot, from snowcapped local mountains to the Pacific.

As a spring heat wave sends the snow on LA’s mountains gushing into the storm drain system, most of us can only dream of what the county would be like if its rivers and streams had not been channelized or buried. But rather than wait for a return to Eden, there are things that we can do to protect the Pacific as the snowmelt is plated out to sea.

That is goof off.

April uploaded

Hikes. Tours. Bugs. Plants. Landscape design courses. Spring. Southern California April dry garden event listings newly loaded. Or click here for March. If you have an event that you would like added to the calendar, please e-mail details to [@]

Sow and ye shall reap

It smelled of sage and spring in the seed room of the Theodore Payne Foundation in Sun Valley this week as supervisor Kathy Parenteau showed how the fruit of their native plant collection is sorted and stored for propagation and sale. Pictured above are the English apothecary spoons that Payne himself used to sort seeds, with the tiny Chalk Dudleya specimens contrasted to the aptly named fruit of the Bigberry Manazanita.

With heavy and persistent rain in the forecast for next week and spring around the corner, now is the time to sow seeds or plant saplings. For information on the seeds from the Theodore Payne Foundation, which are carefully selected for Southern California, click here. Or, for beginners just contemplating converting to native gardening or advanced gardeners always eager to learn more, Chance

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