The Dry Garden: Blown away

Two men, 180 decibels, maybe three rake-fulls of leaves.

What would you do if a neighbor came to you and asked, “For 20 minutes every week, may I turn on your vacuum cleaner, smoke detector and garbage disposal and run them all at once?”

Holding that thought, consider if the neighbor added, “Ah, may I also blow noxious dust your way for those same 20 minutes?”

Imagine that not just one neighbor on the street asked it, but eight. Imagine that each one just wanted their 20 minutes to blare noise and blow dust. It would be sometime between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Add up the minutes and they would equal about six straight days of noise a year. The dust would stay suspended longer, an element of smog.

Given the choice, most people would say “no” in terms unrepeatable here, so most Angelenos don’t ask for permission. They

Wet weekend

Briefest of snow in Altadena, California, elevation roughly 1,400 feet, Saturday February 26th.

If you thought that Southern California’s much anticipated snow was the damp squib of the weekend, you didn’t watch the Oscars. More interesting are 2010-11 precipitation numbers to date for what has been a reasonably wet rainy season in Los Angeles County in spite of a La Niña in the equatorial Pacific.

Foothills: Altadena 26.89″  ***, Pasadena: 15.58″ *

San Fernando Valley: Burbank: 14.09″ **

Basin: Downtown Los Angeles: 15.78″ **

Coast: Long Beach: 15.38″ **

If luck amounts to a water plan, then we planned well. To see how a now weakening La Niña has impacted the southern US, from Arizona clear across to Florida, click here for the US Drought Monitor.

*Source: National Weather Service, Los Angeles/Oxnard

**Source: National Weather Service, California Nevada River Forecast Center

***Source: Bill Westphal


Mr Smith goes to council

July 6: A laughing Los Angeles City Councilman Greig Smith wipes a tear from his eye as he taunts a Department of Water & Power representative over his success in flouting and, eventually, over-turning the department's hugely successful lawn watering ordinance. The Council is expected to vote in a watered-down ordinance soon. Click on the image to be taken to the city's On Demand video service.

In June 2009, an ordinance limiting lawn and garden watering with sprinklers to two days a week took effect in Los Angeles. Citywide water consumption dropped by more than 20%.

Yet, 13 months later, the ordinance that pushed Los Angeles to the fore of the Western water conservation movement is about to be gutted, having become collateral damage in a roiling brawl over rate hikes and green energy between the City Council and the mayor’s office.

On July 6, the City Council sent the

Do I hear three dollars?

Click on the checklist to be taken to the Long Beach lawn-to-garden program website

Las Vegas topped the regional cash-for-grass payout rate with $2 per square foot (now down to $1.50) until the City of Long Beach today announced that it will be offering $2.50 per square foot up to $2,500 for qualifying homeowners.

The calculus behind this sort of bribery is that it is cheaper for a Western water authority to pay homeowners to remove turf and replace it with a drought tolerant garden rather than for the city to vie with competitors for ever more water from an ever shrinking common pool.

Beyond the decision to increase the bounty on turf, what sets Long Beach’s program apart from, say, the cash-for-grass scheme launched by the City of Los Angeles last June is an enviable combination of conviction and competence.

While the City of Los Angeles sat on its

Western datebook: Chance of plants

IF YOU MISSED THE Theodore Payne Foundation’s plant sale earlier this month, or couldn’t face the 5 Freeway to get out to Sun Valley, no worry. Phone the Foundation, tell them what you want, and pick it up from TPF’s Sunday stall at the Hollywood Farmers Market.

Elsewhere around Southern California, native plant sales are in full swing.

October 24: California Native Plant Society, Orange County Chapter, San Juan Capistrano

October 24: California Native Plant Sale, El Dorado Nature Center, Long Beach

November 7: Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont

Click here for listings of dry garden events through December. If you have an event that you would like listed, please e-mail me at: [@]

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