The Dry Garden: Undressing for summer

Bark hides in plain sight. Who needs the superhero power of invisibility when you’re constantly upstaged by flowers, fruit and foliage? It takes an event to draw the distracted eye to the trunk and limbs of a shrub or tree.

That event is happening now. With the summer solstice nigh, California’s best-adapted woody plants are slipping into dormancy to ride out the dry season. As they do so, still sated on spring rain, newly thickened by another year’s growth, the most wanton of the lot are shedding last year’s bark.

Click here to keep reading The Dry Garden on the beauty of bark in the Los Angeles Times.

Happy New Year, San Diego. Use less, pay more

San Diego celebrated the New Year with a water rate hike. That said, may every one greet it with the same civic mindedness of Groksurf’s San Diego. As that leading Southern California water blog observes, water in San Diego is still cheap.

To that this website can only add: Few counties enjoy such a good network of conservation educators. Click here for listings of events from the San Diego chapter of the California Native Plant Society.

For a steady stream of advice and inspiration from two of the county’s distinguished garden writers, try the websites of fellow Los Angeles Times contributors Nan Sterman and Debra Lee Baldwin.

Update: Groksurf’s editor George Janczyn shot in an e-mail a day after this post appeared commending Lost in the Landscape, the website of San Diego artist Jim Soe Nyun. To this haul of

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: [@]

Barrel cactuses admired

Photo: Debra Lee Baldwin via the Los Angeles Times. Click on the cactus to be taken to Baldwin's article.

THE MOST stylish advocate of succulents, Debra Lee Baldwin, turns her eye to barrel cactuses in this week’s Los Angeles Times Home Section. To read, (do read), click here.

Why the crisis at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden affects all Californians

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. Photo: Marilee Kuhlmann

FOR THOSE who missed it, last weekend the LA Times followed up on the troubles at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. A very capable round up it was too. Yet, roughly three months since crisis gripped one of California’s most important botanic gardens, there remains a great unsaid. That is: As a matter of urgency, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden must reinstate Carol Bornstein.

The April decision to dismiss the former director of horticulture, a 28-year veteran of the garden, is described as a matter of cost efficiency. But if the garden can afford a highly paid PR to gloss over the crisis that has driven half of its volunteers from service, then there is no conceivable rationale for sacking a woman who is the living embodiment of the garden’s mission to foster stewardship of the natural world through inspired learning, rigorous scholarship,

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