In praise of Bart O’Brien

The departure of Bart O'Brien from Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden is a staggering loss for Southern California.

Autumn is planting season for natives

November through February offer the best planting months in Southern California gardens.

Pacific coast irises: Look now, buy later

Last spring I wrote about how the March release by nurseries of Pacific coast irises ¬†tempted many — myself included — to plant the flowers in April. I put up this post-script because, having done it in 2011 after a wet winter leading into what proved a cool summer, I still saw mortality rates of 15%. Anyone trying it this April would be starting after a dry winter going into what looks like it’s going to be a hot summer. Here’s the problem: If you are watering newly planted irises as they become dormant in May and June, and given the only partially charged soil, you probably will be, it’s a perfect recipe for root rot and death. At $5 a plant, or more, there are much less dispiriting ways to waste money. So in these dewy days following our long-awaited rain, my advice is to inspect established Pacific coast

Rubus ursinus: A beary good berry

Click on the 1924 Royal G. Steadman rendering of a youngberry (Source: USDA) to be taken to tomorrow's LA Weekly article on Rubus ursinus, the Pacific blackberry still native to rare, undeveloped pockets of Los Angeles. Its fragrance and intense flavor gave rise to the caviar of summer: boysenberries, youngberries, marionberries and loganberries. Then, if you can, plant one of these brambles, either the straight-up species or a hybrid whose native Western progenitor was named for the bears who love them. The plants are disappearing from commerce as tougher specimens from Eastern and South American stock increasingly dominate the nursery and fresh fruit trades.

How Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden grew, 1950-1970

Twenty years of painstaking record-keeping at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, California unlock mysteries of the golden state's flora.
keep looking »