Category Archives: Did You Know

Pruning & Planting For Spring

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garden-centerWhile it may feel like spring and look that way as well – given how full the garden outlets are with plants aching to be planted, you still have time to prune and plant bare-root roses, berry bushes and some ornamental trees. It’s best not to wait till March, particularly in the desert areas such as Blythe, Anza Borrego, Canebrake and the hot Central Coast as well as Fresno and Bakersfield.

Pruning

pruning-1 copyNow is the time to prune dormant trees and shrubs that will bloom in the summer and fall. These include roses, berries and grapes — and make sure and do it before they begin to bud.

In pruning roses, take out all of the dead canes and any that look diseased. Take a look at the rose’s shape and consider removing crossing canes and particularly those canes that have come out below the graft union. It’s also a wise idea to prune mature bushes down to 18 to 20 inches.

Bareroot Planting

bareroot-rose-ground-m-m-(1)Bareroog planting can provide you with a much larger variety of plants than what is usually available at you local garden center. There are any number of on-line nurseries that can ship bareroot specimens directly to you. Unfortunately, you’ll need to see what’s currently available (most people order months in advance) and how long it will take for the shipment to reach you. But a Google search would be well worth the time just to see what is currently in the market place and what extraordinary specimens you may have missed!

Planting bareroot varieties is relatively simple. Dig your hole at least half a foot wider than the plant and deeper than the roots. You then need to spread the roots apart and fill the hole with a combination of the existing soil and soil that recommended for that particular plant. Water well to make sure all of the air pockets are filled, which may also require additional dirt. Once planted you don’t want the plan(s)to dry out, neither do you want to overwater them so that their roots rot.

A successful gardener is someone who plants well and tends with love and dedication.

 

 

 

7 Excellent Screening Hedges/Trees

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Ficus Nitida
Ficus Nitida

Ficus Nitida and Ficus Benjamina are not the solution.

Whenever a client asks about installing a hedge they’re usually thinking of planting a row using Ficus Nitida (Retusa) or Benjamina.  They have been Southern California’s “go to” trees for privacy hedges for decades, but there are a number of reasons to pass them by. They can be very invasive and their roots grow close to the surface, damaging sidewalks. While they grow fast, they need frequent trimming and are not drought-toelerant. They require a substantial amount of water to establish and a moderate amount once established.

What follows is information on seven excellent hedges provided by the  North Park Nursery. If you’re thinking about adding a hedge and are concerned about how it will behave and how much water it will consume, here is valuable information about the best plant material for the job.

Best Screening Trees

What makes the the perfect screening shrub? The answer to this question may vary depending on the individual, but. generally, the desirable characteristics are as follows:

  • Between 15 and 20 feet tall.
  • Evergreen and dense.
  • Tolerant of full sun.
  • Fast-growing.
  • Low maintenance, particularly low water use.
  • Non-invasive.

Podocarpus, fern pine, yew pine, yellow wood, Japanese yew

Podocarpus-Screening-Hedge
Podocarpus-Screening-Hedge

Scientific Name: Podocarpus sp.
Height: 50 to 100 ft
Sun: Part shade to full sun
Water: Low to moderate
Description: One of the tallest trees on this list, we love podocarpus because it is an extremely resilient, fast-growing tree that is tolerant of full sun and low water. It can also stand part shade and holds up against windy, salty, coastal conditions. In addition, it responds well to pruning and shearing, meaning it can be managed at any height and made into a formal hedge. Of course, you can always choose to leave these trees in their natural form for a more organic appearance. There are a few varieties to choose from, including P. henkelii, which has long, slender and drooping leaves, P. gracilior, with fern-like foliage and P. gracilior, which has pine-like foliage and can be found in a variety called ‘Icee Blue,’ which has fabulous steel blue coloration.

Pittosporum, kohuhu, ‘Silver Sheen’

Pittosporum-Tenuifolium-Screening-Hedge
Pittosporum-Tenuifolium-Screening-Hedge

Scientific Name: Podocarpus tenuifolium
Height: 20 to 30 ft
Sun: Part shade to full sun
Water: Low
Description: Pittosporum tenuifolium is a drought-tolerant New Zealand native that makes an excellent screening shrub here in Southern California. It tolerates full to part sun and can be either sheared into a more dense formal hedge or allowed to assume a natural, upright and wispy form. The most popular cultivar for use in home landscaping is ‘Silver Sheen,’ named for the grey-green tops and white undersides of its small leaves, which appear to flicker when caught in a breeze. The dark stems on this variety make it a striking choice indeed. Other varieties include ‘Gold Star,’ ‘Gold Sheen,’ ‘Marjorie Channon’ and ‘Irene Patterson,’ which come in different shades of green, variegated or otherwise, with bright red to deep black stems.

California Bayberry, California Wax Myrtle, Pacific Wax Myrtle

Pacific-Wax-Myrtle-Screening-Hedge
Pacific-Wax-Myrtle-Screening-Hedge

Scientific Name: Myrica californica
Height: 15 to 30 ft
Sun: Part shade to full sun
Water: Moderate
Description: A shrub native to the West Coast from Washington to Southern California, it has slightly fragrant, evergreen leaves. Best used along the coast, it is tolerant of sandy, loamy and clay soils, high winds and salt spray, making it an excellent windbreak along the coast. Needs some protection from sun and supplemental water when used further inland. Beautiful natural form, does not tolerate shearing.

Privet, wax leaf privet

Ligustrum-Texanum-Screening-Hedge
Ligustrum-Texanum-Screening-Hedge

Scientific Name: Ligustrum japonicum ‘Texanum’
Height: 8 to 10 ft
Sun: Part shade to full sun
Water: Moderate
Description:  Many gardeners are averse to planting privet because it has a reputation as being invasive and aggressive. However, in spite of these characteristics it makes an almost perfect hedge: fast growing, dense, evergreen foliage, tolerant of shearing with profuse white flowers. We recommend choosing the cultivar ‘Texanum,’ which is a less aggressive variety that only grows to half the size of the species. Will .ppreciate supplemental watering during the warmer months.

Spartan juniper

Juniper-Spartan-Screening-Hedge
Juniper-Spartan-Screening-Hedge

Scientific Name: Juniperus chinensis ‘Spartan’
Height: 10 to 15 ft
Sun: Full sun
Water: Low
Description: There are many species of vertical-growing juniper that make excellent wind breaks and privacy screens. ‘Spartan’ is a cultivar we love for its moderate height, vertical form and rich green foliage. It is very responsive to pruning, and tolerant of heat, cold, wind and drought. Requires very little maintenance once established. Other similar choices are Juniper ‘Skyrocket’ and Cupressus sempervirens ‘Tiny Tower.’

Bamboo

Alphonse-Karr-Bamboo-Screening-Hedge
Alphonse-Karr-Bamboo-Screening-Hedge

Scientific Name: Bambusa sp.
Height: 15 to 30 ft
Sun: Part shade to full sun
Water: Moderate
Description: Bamboo is an excellent choice for a fast-growing, tall privacy screen with a tropical look. We recommend choosing clumping varieties that will not invade the rest of your yard – a favorite is the cultivar ‘Alphonse Karr,’ which has beautiful golden yellow stems and can be maintained at whatever height you desire with occasional pruning. Note that bamboo is a messy plant and tends to drop lots of leaves.

Bay laurel, sweet bay

Laurus-Nobilis-Screening-Hedge
Laurus-Nobilis-Screening-Hedge

Scientific Name: Laurus nobilis
Height: 15 to 25 ft
Sun: Part shade to full sun
Water: Low
Description: Similar in appearance to privet but lacking flowers, bay laurel is a slower-growing, less-aggressive shrub that can be sheared into a formal hedge and is tolerant of full sun and low water. Very low maintenance and can be allowed to assume its natural form for an organic look.

13 Bountiful Thanksgiving Table Ideas

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Thanksgiving has always been a very special holiday for me. It combines three things I care deeply about: my family and friends, the wonderful life that I’ve been given and the bounty that nature provides us.

In planning my Thanksgiving I thought it might be fun to select some very special Thanksgiving table decorations that display some of nature’s bounty. Almost everything in these stunning designs can be found in the garden or in the vegetable section of your grocery story. Add a few candles and a little imiganation and you’ve got yourself your own fabulous Thanksgiving table.

Happy Thanksgiving – may it be a loving and delicious one!

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Fall & Winter Garden Color

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WinterGardenOne of the advantages of Southern California over the North and the East, is that our mild winters make it possible to plant and grow year-round. Fall is not only a time for garden maintenance and preparation of the soil for spring planting; it is the time to plant for winter and early spring harvests and blooms.

Clients have asked about adding color to their gardens, patios and balconies, so here are a list of 17 winter-blooming plants that offer a range of colors and structure that should do the trick.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

CalendulaDaisy-like calendula provides easy color from late fall through spring in mild-winter climates, and are long lasting in a vase. Choose classic orange and bright yellow, or opt for subtler shades of apricot, cream, and soft yellow.

Branching plants are 1 to 2 feet high and 1 to 1½ feet wide and look great as masses of color or in a container.

Calendula plants take full sun and moderate water. They will tolerate many soils as long as they have good drainage. Remove the spent flowers to prolong bloom.

Candytuft (Iberis)

candytuft-iberis-lCandytuft plants grow 8 to 12 inches high and wide; their narrow, shiny dark green leaves look great all year.

Pure white flower clusters are carried on stems long enough to cut for bouquets. Choose ‘Alexander’s White’ (pictured), ‘Autumnale’, or ‘Autumn Snow; they bloom in spring and again in fall.

Plants thrive in full sun or part shade and regular water. Candytuft needs well-drained soil and should be sheared ightly after bloom to stimulate new growth.

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

Terrifying Landscapes

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hal-7I must have been bitten by a Ghoul or perhaps a Goblin because I’ve had Halloween on my mind for the last week. Not that we go trick or treating — my kids are grown and I haven’t carved a pumpkin in years. but there is still something fun and even endearing about this celebration of All Hallows’ Eve.

So, to exorcise this haunting obsession, here are some interesting and even terrifying takes on how one might celebrate this haunted holiday…

Trick or Treat

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hal-12Have A Frightful Halloween!

3 Natural Remedies to Eliminate Garden Pests

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Slug on a white background, vector illustration
Your Garden Slug

There’s nothing more frustrating than spending time, energy and money putting in a garden, particularly a vegetable garden, only to have it disappear down the gullet (or whatever they have) of your friendly garden slug. But slugs are just one of  a whole host of pests that can silently and efficiently decimate your garden, because nothing tastes better than a free lunch!

If you’re like me and would prefer not using toxic chemicals on my flowers, or particularly on the vegitables I intend my family to eat,  here are three natural remedies that can eliminate these pesky pests.

spray-bottleWhat You Need

Spray bottles
Biodegradable liquid dish soap
Lemon or orange essential oil
Cooking oil
Baking soda
Garlic
Chili powder
Water

Natural Insecticidal Soap Spray

This is by far the spray I reach for most often. It’s easy to make and keep on hand, and should take care of most of those annoying common pests such as aphids, mites, white flies, thrips, and mealy bugs. It kills them by attacking them at the skin, suffocating and therefore eliminating them. I like to add a few drops of orange or lemon essential oil, which is in itself a natural insecticide, especially effective against ants and scale, and it also helps the the spray stick to your plants.

1 1/2 tablespoons of liquid soap
1 quart of water
A couple drops of orange or lemon essential oil

Use a biodegradable, liquid soap (such as Murphy’s oil soap, castile soap or Ivory), to make the mixture. Add water and essential oil to the spray bottle and shake. Spray your plant thoroughly, making sure you cover the underside of the leaves as well.

All-Purpose Garlic Chili Spray

Pepper and garlic are both natural insect repellents and will help to repel Japanese Beetles, borers, leafhoppers and slugs. Garlic also deters larger pest like deer and rabbit.

Natural Insecticidal Soap Spray (from recipe above)
1 tablespoon of chili powder (you could also use fresh or dried hot peppers)
5 cloves of garlic, crushed and cut roughly

Allow garlic and chili powder to steep overnight. Strain and pour into a spray bottle. Add Natural Insecticidal Soap Spray. Should keep for a couple weeks.

Baking Soda Spray

This spray is great for treating plants with fungal diseases. There is nothing quite as frustrating as discovering your plant has an unsightly case of mildew, a type of fungal disease. Suddenly your beautiful green cucumber and squash leaves are replaced by patches of grayish-white blotches.

1 tablespoon of baking soda
1/2 tablespoon of oil
2 quarts of warm water

Add baking soda and oil to a cup of warm water until it dissolves. Mix in the rest of the water. Before attempting to spray and treat your plant, remove the most severely damaged leaves first. Then spray your solution, repeating every few days until it disappears. This mixture is best made and used immediately.

Additional Notes: It’s best to spray your plants in the morning, before the sun is too hot or you run the risk of burning the leaves of your plant. And while these spray are non-toxic and less harmful than commercial pesticides, they will kill beneficial bugs along with the harmful ones. I recommend using these sprays sparingly, only treating the infected plants.

Theodore Payne Foundation – California Native Plant Sale

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TheodorePayneFoundationAs a follow up to my previous blog/newsletter of California Native Plants, I just received this notification and I though anyone interested either in knowing more about them,  or perhaps purchasing some, might be interested.

Theodore Payne Foundation
for Wild Flowers and Native Plants, Inc.
10459 Tuxford Street, Sun Valley, CA 91352
818-768-1802, theodorepayne.org

FALL PLANT SALE
NATIVE NEWS

Dear Friend of TPF: Our 2014 Fall Plant Sale is just around the corner! It’s our biggest sale of the year, offering the region’s largest and most interesting selection of California native plants, seed and bulbs — with expert advice from TPF staff and volunteers.

Member Days: Friday-Saturday, October 10-11, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Members 15% plants, seed and bulbs
Not yet a member? Join at the door!
Discounts to All: Friday-Saturday, October 17-18, 8:30.a.m.-4:30.p.m.
Members 15% off plants, seed and bulbs
Non-members 10% off plants, seed and bulbs

Reduced hours through October 20.
Open Thursday-Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (Closed Sunday-Wednesday)

FALL PLANT SALE
Save on plants, seed and bulbs!
MEMBER DAYS: Friday & Saturday, October 10-11, 8:30-4:30
Not yet a member? Join at the door!
DISCOUNTS TO ALL: Friday & Saturday, October 17-18, 8:30-4:30

IN THE NURSERY
Native Plants for Every Corner of the Garden

More than 600 different species and cultivars will be available on sale days, including these: Asclepias fascicularis (for monarch butterflies); Carpenteria californica; Fremontodendron (many varieties); Dudleya (more than 10 choices!); Eriogonum crocatum; Eriogonum ovalifolium; Iris (more than 20 choices!); Eriogonum ‘Shasta Sulfur’; Mammillaria dioica ; Arctostaphylos ‘Bart’s Beauty’; Arctostayphos hookeri ssp. franciscana; Artemisia ‘Montara’; Artemisia ‘Canyon Grey; Calystegia ‘Anacapa Pink’; Ceanothus leucodermis; Clinopodium douglasii; Cercis occidentalis; Malacothamnus ‘Casitas’; Opuntia basilaris; Romneya coulteri; plus a large selection of Mimulus, Salvia, Penstemon, Epilobium and Heuchera.

Expert advice will be available from TPF staff and volunteers.

All four sale days: TPF members receive 15% off plants
Friday & Saturday, October 17-18 ONLY: Non-members 10% off plants

Before you shop, check our online nursery inventory, updated every Thursday. It lists the plants by botanical and common name, with sizes and prices for each. For information on individual plants, see our online Native Plant Database.

IN THE STORE
Seed

TPF offers more than 200 species of native plant seed — all discounted during our fall sale!

Ready for sowing now: cool-season grasses and colorful wild flowers for all areas of the garden.

For glorious spring color, try Theodore Payne’s original Rainbow Mix.
For dry shade (works well under oaks), sow our Shady Mix.
For border fronts, use our Low-Growing Mix.
For tough soils, try the Roadside Mix.
For ornamental grasses, plant TPF’s Cool-Season Grass MIx.

Seed advice will be available during the sale. And don’t forget to pick up your horticultural sand — it helps to spread seed evenly and help protect seed from hungry birds!

All four sale days: TPF members receive 15% off seed
Friday & Saturday, October 17-18 ONLY: Non-members 10% off seed

Bulbs
In early autumn, our store shelves showcase dozens of California native bulbs, including common and rare species and cultivars, many propagated here at TPF. In the right spots, these native treasures will naturalize in your garden and return year after year. They also grow well in containers. Shop early for best selection.

NEW this year: Colorful bulb mixes — in limited quantities.
Bulb advice will be available during the sale.

All four sale days: TPF members receive 15% off bulbs
Friday & Saturday, October 17-18 ONLY: Non-members 10% off bulbs.

Pets and Toxic Plants

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English Springer Spaniel

While I’m not normally asked about the toxicity of the plants that I add to a client’s landscape, this question did come up recently regarding the back yard I was re-designing.  The owner wanted to know if any of the plants that were being considered would be harmful to their two Springer Spaniels. I said that I didn’t believe so, but that I would check to see if any of them were considered toxic to animals.

The Sago Palm I knew to be quite toxic to dogs and I have always been judicious in its use. However, I wanted to be sure that nothing I selected or anything else on the property was toxic, so I checked with the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine website and here is what they had to say. Needless to say, none of these were used in the landscaping.

A surprisingly large number of common garden and household plants are toxic to pets, and reactions to toxicity range from mild to life-threatening. Pets, like young children, explore the world with their senses, and they are therefore vulnerable to accidental poisoning. Many of these plants make wonderful additions to the garden, but it is important to know which plants are toxic. If possible, avoid planting these where pets (or children) will have frequent unsupervised access to the plants.

The 12 plants listed below are responsible for the majority of calls to our Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) about possible plant poisoning. The list was compiled by Director of Pharmacy Dr. Valerie Wiebe. The toxicity of the plants below varies according to the species of animal exposed (cat, dog, bird, etc.), the amount of the plant that was ingested, and the specific variety or species of the plant.

If you suspect your pet has ingested any of the plants below, call your veterinarian immediately. Do not wait to see if symptoms appear, because in some cases of poisoning, by the time symptoms appear it is too late to save the animal.

  1. Day Lillies
    Day Lillies

    Lilies (Lilium, all spp.): Ingesting any part of the plant can cause complete kidney failure in 36-72 hours. First symptoms appear in a few hours and may include appetite suppression, lethargy, vomiting. Cats are especially sensitive to lily poisoning, so be very careful to keep your cats away from liliies of any kind, including the Amaryllis, Easter lilies, and Stargazer lilies so often found in homes around the holidays.

  2. Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis): Ingesting any part of the plant can cause cardiac dysrhythmias, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, weakness, and even death. (Photo courtesy of freebigpictures.com web site).
  3. Anemone (Anenome and Pulsatilla, family Ranunculaceae): Irritating to the mucus membranes, and can cause blisters, hemorrhagic gastritis, shock, convulsions, and death. (Photo is Japanese Anemone).
  4. http://blog.garden-of-eva.com/?p=1789 Vomiting, depression, diarrhea, anorexia, tremors, change in urine color.
  5. Amaryllis (family Amaryllidaceaea, incl. Hippeastrum spp.) All species, including Belladonna Lily, are toxic, and especially dangerous to cats. The bulbs are the toxic part of the plant. The “Amaryllis” commonly seen during the December holidays are Hippeastrum species. Symptoms include vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hyper-salivation, anorexia, tremors. (Photo courtesy of Ellen Zagory, UC Davis Arboretum).
  6. Asparagus Fern (family Liliaceae): Allergic dermatitis, gastric upset, vomiting, diarrhea.
  7. Daffodil (Narcissus): Vomiting, diarrhea. Large ingestions cause convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors, cardiac arrhythmias.
  8. Philodendrons: Irritation, intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips, tongue, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing.
  9. Jade Plants (Crassula argentea): Vomiting, depressions, ataxia, slow heart rate.
  10. Chrysanthemums: Vomiting, diarrhea, hyper salivation, incoordination, dermatitis.
  11. Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum): The tubers or rhizomes contain the toxic glycoside cyclanin, a terpenoid saponin. Ingestion can cause excess salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, heart rhythm abnormalities, seizures, or even death in rare cases.
  12. Cycads (including Sago palm; cardboard palm; etc.): The “Sago palm” is a cycad, not a true palm, and all parts of the plant are poisonous. Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, melena (black “tarry” feces), icterus (jaundice), increased thirst, hemorrhagic gastritis, bruising, coagulopathy, liver failure, and death. A northern California police dog, a patient at one of our Companion Animal Memorial Fund donor clinics, died in November 2011 after ingesting parts of this plant.

For more information about plants that are toxic to dogs and cats here is a link to Southern California’s Safe and Poisonous Garden Plants. 

Tips to Help Trees Survive Drought

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Our California drought is not going away. In fact, given the current weather and worsening drought conditions, this fall will probably be the worst forest fire season in the state’s history. In addition, the state and local communities are significatly increasing regulations regarding the use of water for lawns and have added substantial fines for its misuse.

I came across this info graphic on ways to help your trees survive the drought. Even if you allow your grass to die or decided to replace it with drought-tollernat and native plants, your trees are not only a significant investment in money and time, they add substantial value of your property and provide a number of environmental contributions.  Providing the correct amount of water and right nutrients can help trees and plants survive through severe droughts. If you would like to print this out and keep it handy to refer to, please Click Here

Prepared by the California Urban Forests Council and Invest from the Ground Up to help landscapers and property owners help trees not only survive a drought, but thrive in one. 

Drought-infographic_Trees

Additional Information

For more information on sustainable landscape design, water management and plant selection, here are links to articles I’ve written on the subject :

Birmingham Largest Green Wall in U.S. Airport

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When I saw this article in the blog,  Total Landscape Care, I thought, “What a brilliant way to greet passengers coming off a claustrophobic  flight.”

Birmingham Airport Garden-Wall
Birmingham Airport Garden Wall

While I love to travel, I, as I am sure most of you who don’t fly First Class, have come to dread the prospect of getting from here to there shoe-horned into those sardine cans in the sky. And when you do get to where you’re going and join the rest of your cabin mates pouring into the terminal, you’re most often greeted by a noisy, advertising-filled environment you can’t wait to get out of.

I am a great advocate of green walls whether you want to cover a boring piece of concrete or make a statement in your entrance hall. Green walls can be constructed in any number of ways, out of a range of materials and can host a diverse selection of plants.

The Blog

Flowers-Green-WallThe first thing travelers see when they get off of a plane at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Alabama, might not be welcoming faces. Instead, they will be greeted with the largest green wall in a U.S. airport.

The 1,400-square-foot living wall, called “Earth, Wind and Water: The Landscape of Alabama,” features 8,000 plants belonging to 60 species indigenous to the state, according to AL.com.

Living-WallDuring the past few years, the airport has undergone several renovations, and the wall goes toward the $201.6 million terminal modernization project. The green wall ties together themes from four regions in Alabama, showing plant life from the North Alabama uplands through the state’s river valleys and farmland to the coast, according to the site.

A few inches thick, the wall is covered with a layer of recycled fabric and an auto-irrigation system. Some of the species include orchids and insect-eating plants.

They also added hybrid pineapples, which will be harvested. The wall will be open to the public this month in Concourse C. 

One Of My Walls

Recently installed, this green wall was designed for full sun and uses a range of drought-tollerent plants. It serves as the visual backdrop for a fountain and  sculpture, helping to focus the eye in what is a large and very bright terrace.

Garden of Eva-2
Los Angeles Office of Homeland Security