The Dry Garden: Smell the roses

This may not be the time to plant a rose, but as a long rose season concludes its spring flush, it is an ideal moment to study the varieties around town, then consider which ones you like and what they might do for your garden.

How such hardy plants spawned the modern rose care industry will one day make a fabulous subject for a business writer. A 2004 Home cover story titled “Rethinking the Rose” challenged the idea that roses need pampering, if stumping their branches in winter, drenching their roots in summer, dusting the foliage with fungicides and filling their arteries with systemic pesticides can be called pampering.

What is worth picking up on here and now is that few notionally water-loving plants transition quite so seamlessly into the Mediterranean-climate garden.

Click here to keep reading about roses in the Dry Garden in the Los Angeles Times. If

The Dry Garden: A three-acre labor of love called Arlington

As beautiful as private landscapes can be, and they can be stunning, none can match the poetry, joy and solace of a public garden done right. As proof, look no further than Arlington Garden in Pasadena. Here, since breaking ground on the 3-acre site five years ago, neighbor Betty McKenney has seen just about every kind of human interaction.

“We have people who meditate and pray,” said McKenney, left. “We have counselors and young people from a local clinic, some of whom are pretty troubled. Certainly there are schools and Scout programs. People bring their computers, or they read. They walk dogs. We see engaged couples getting photographed. Other photographers work on catalogs with their models. Last time it was a little bit risque. Some of those girls had really long legs. We see couples — 70, 80 years old — holding hands walking through the garden. I saw a

The Dry Garden: Choosing fruit

Central to the promise of the California dream is the idea that you can reach out of your kitchen window and pluck a lemon. As we hit the limits of our water supply, that specter of home-grown fruit remains steadily possible, even a social ideal in the complex matrix of energy and water footprints.

In attaining it, the first hurdle is choice: What kind of lemon? What about oranges and limes? A modest lot in Los Angeles can produce full loads of not only citrus but also avocadoes, plums, apricots and nectarines. And don’t forget figs, pomegranates and apples. A long list only becomes longer when you consider the varieties and crosses available for each type of fruit. Valencia orange or blood? Eureka lemon or Meyer? Plum or “aprium”?

Choice of fruit trees is one of the most important decisions that you’ll make in a garden. You’ll be eating the

Flower report

A bird of paradise peeks out of a photinia hedge at dusk. Photo: Annie Wells.

As a particularly handsome crop of fall roses finish and the thick, almost sickening gardenia-notes fade from blossoms drying on the coyote bushes, throughout December, South Africans plants will dominate the flowering cycle in the Californian mediterranean garden. Jade and aloe are entering their winter flourishes, while the bird of paradise remains at constant attention.

Among California natives, be they false starts or early bloomers, some manzanitas are already decked out with delicate bell-shaped flowers and the earliest of the ceanothuses are covered with their signature cobalt blue blossoms. From the Mediterranean, lavender that has been left to adapt to local rainfall cycles will be verging on a vivid fall bloom, with salvia officinalis already in flower.

If you haven’t scattered your wildflower seeds yet, get out in front of the rains this weekend to