Tag Archives: succulents

7 Excellent Screening Hedges/Trees

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather
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.

Theodore Payne Foundation – California Native Plant Sale

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

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.

Add A Stream To Your Drought-Tolerant Landscape

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

House-w_streamThe New Normal

As California’s drought continues with no end in sight, I have had a substantial increase in client interest in turning front and back yards into drought-tolerant or Xeriscape landscapes.

The reason for this is obvious; it saves an enormous amount of water since grass can easily consume over half a gallon of water per square foot every time you water. To put that into perspective, a 100′ x 100′ lawn uses 6,230 gallons of water every time your sprinkler heads pup up. In addition to saving water and saving the cost of all of that water, it saves substantially on the amount of time and energy needed to maintain the landscape – no grass to cut and most native and drought-tolerant plants require little or no maintenance.

But What Will It Look Like?

This is the question every client asks after they acknowledge the importance of saving water. My answer is to tell them that drought-tolerant, Xeriscape landscaping has been done for centuries all along the Mediterranean, although it wasn’t called that; it was just the way folks created gardens when there was very little available water. And the gardens of the Costa Del Sol, the South of France, the Italian Riviera, and the islands of Corsica, Sardinia, Malta and Greece are filled with some of the most beautiful landscapes in the in the world and with nary a blade of grass in sight.

Add A Stream – Wet or Dry

There are a number of ways to turn a grassy front and/or back yard into a stunning drought-tolerant garden. Any well-designed landscape takes into the consideration the confirmation of the property and the architecture of the structure. It’s not just about ripping out the grass and sticking plants in the ground.

If you have the space and a little elevation, a stream can be created that can turn a boring piece of property into a stunning garden.

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

California Approves Mandatory Water Conservation

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather
Folsom Lake Reservoir
Folsom Lake Reservoir

While this may not be news to some of you, it’s important that as many people in California are made aware of how serious a drought we are facing and how little is being done to conserve water. “People really don’t understand the gravity of the drought, particularly in urban California, where people are hundreds of miles from their water source,” said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board, which voted on Tuesday (7/15/14) to impose the following regulations, which are scheduled to take effect around August 1st.

Water Regulations

  • outdoor watering limited to two days a week
  • washing of sidewalks and driveways prohibited
  • washing cars banned without a shut-off nozzle on the hose
  • fountains using non-reciruclated, potable water are banned outright

Violations may be punished with fines of up to $500 per day

Beverly Hills Landscape
Beverly Hills Landscape

South Coast Region Water Use Has Increased

While none of the state’s 10 hydraulic regions have conserved as much as the governor asked for, most cut back at least 5 percent in May. The biggest exception is the South Coast region, which includes the Los Angeles and San Diego areas, as well as Orange County. There, water use increased 8 percent over previous years.

Almond Orchard
Almond Orchard

80% Of California In Extreme Drought

New National Weather Service data show that more than 80% of California is now in an extreme drought and is probably headed into a deeper drought this summer, making it harder to escape in the future.

The drought has already pummeled farmers in California, which is home to the nation’s largest agricultural sector. So far this year, about a third less water than usual has been available to the state’s farmers, according to a report released Tuesday by the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis. The report projected that the drought would cost about $2.2 billion in statewide revenue this year, and that 17,100 farm-related jobs would be lost.

Drought-Tolerant Landscape Design
Drought-Tolerant Landscape Design

What You Can Do

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

Garden of Eva Handouts on Landscape Design, Water Conservation & Drought Tolerant Plant Selection

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Malibu_11On May 13th I was pleased to speak at  the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association on sustainable (“Green”) landscape design and the use of drought-tolerant, Mediterranean and native California species in designing a beautiful yet sustainable landscape. There were approximately 75 people in the audience and a number had questions about plant selection and how to better use water.

I suspected these topics might generate a lot of interest, so I prepared two handouts to provide more information than I could possibly communicate in the 15 minutes I had to speak. I also included a landscaping design check list, which is very helpful if you’re considering doing any work.

I thought it would be a good idea to make these handouts available to anyone who stopped by, so here are their links.

Lanscape Design Checklist

Water Conservation Information

Drought Tolerant Plant Selection

For more information on sustainable landscape design, water management and plant selection, here are links to my website and newsletters:

 

 

May 13 – 7 PM – Drought-Tolerant Landscaping Revealed

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association May 13th MeetingAt the invitation of the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association I will be speaking on sustainable (“Green”) landscape design and the use of drought-tolerant, Mediterranean and native California species. The focus of the talk will be on how their use can save you money on your water bill and make a positive contribution to the serious drought California currently faces, as well as help ease our state’s ever-diminishing water supply.

If you’re interested in learning about drought-tolerant design and intelligent-water management, you are cordially invited to attend the meeting (no reservation required) on Tuesday, May 13th at 7:00 p.m. at the Van Ness Elementary School, 501 N. Van Ness Ave., Los AngelesSEE MAP

A couple of the topics I’ll touch on are:

  • How sustainable landscape design can be beautiful, provide curb appeal and integrate with your home’s architecture.
  • How to save money by replacing water-guzzling grass with a drought-tolerant landscape.
  • How to water drought-tolerant species.
  • How to prepare the ground and the kind of fertilizer to use.
  • Drought-tolerant plant selection?

In addition, I will provide handouts on the use of drought tolerant plants, the intelligent use of water and a landscaping design check list.

Garden of Eva Landscaping Design Group

For more information on sustainable landscape design, water management and plant selection, here are links to my website and newsletters:

To understand just how serious our water shortage is and how important water conservation plays in our environment’s sustainability, here’s an update from the L.A. TIMES date April 25, 2014 by Jason Wells.

Drought covers 100% of California for first time in 15 years

2014 California Drought

A prolonged period of below-average rainfall has put the entire state of California under some level of drought, ranging in severity from moderate to exceptional, for the first time in 15 years.

The latest drought monitor released by the National Climatic Data Center this week shows that the entire state is under moderate drought conditions, but within that map, 76.6% of the state is experiencing extreme drought conditions, and for 24.7% of the state, the level of dryness is “exceptional.”

During the same period last year, none of the state was considered to be under extreme or exceptional drought conditions, and just 30% fell under the “severe” category, according to the assessment released Thursday.

“This is a really serious situation here in California and people need to be cognizant of that and start conserving water as much as they can,” said Jayme Laber, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service who is part of a team of scientists who contribute to the weekly drought monitor.

The lack of substantial precipitation over the last three rain seasons has affected every part of the state, “some worse than others,” Laber said.

While many municipalities across the state have instituted voluntary conservation measures, some have gone further. As of May 1, customers in Santa Cruz will have to cut their water use by 25% or face stiff financial penalties. The mandatory restrictions are the first for the city in 25 years, CBS San Francisco reported.

The statewide situation eased somewhat after soaking rains in Northern California earlier this year allowed the State Water Project, which supplies a majority of the state, to announce that it would make 5% of the system’s allocation — a minor bump from the zero allocation that customers had been expecting.

Still, NOAA reported last week that half of the Sierra Nevada’s snow pack liquid water equivalent melted in one week, spurred by statewide temperatures that were as much as 12 degrees above average. The melt did little to boost reservoirs.

Unable To Attend?

If you’re unable to attend the meeting, the presentation will be videotaped and posted on my website, Garden Of Eva Landscape Design Group, and on my blog, A Gardener’s Thoughts & Fancies, or you can subscribe to my newsletter, “Eva’s Notes & News,” as it will be included in next month’s edition.

Water Conservation Can Be Beautiful

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

While this is probably not news to most of you, I believe it’s well worth repeating and considering. Last year, 2013 became the driest year on record in California; San Francisco had the least amount of rain since record keeping began during the gold rush of 1849, and here in Southern California, Downtown Los Angeles saw the driest calendar year on record.

Sustainable Water-Wise Garden

We have had virtually no rain this winter (our rainy season) and on January 17, Governor, Jerry Brown, declared a statewide drought emergency. He has urged a voluntary 20% reduction in the use or water saying, “We ought to be ready for a long, continuous, persistent effort including the possibility of drinking-water shortages. I think the drought emphasizes that we do live in an era of limits, that nature has its boundaries.” The department of Water and Power has announced that water rates will be going up and inspectors will soon be on the street checking to see that the thee-day water rationing is being respected and that sprinkler systems are in good working order.

I have written a number of newsletters and blogs about our diminishing water supply with ideas and suggestions on how to deal with it; I even have a page of my website devoted to Sustainable Green Landscape Design. Should you want to read what I’ve had to say over these past three years, here are their links.  There is a lot of valuable information in them on how you can save money and help protect your home from fires, which is also of serious consideration, since the Santa Ana winds are now blowing year round.

Creating A Beautiful, Water-Wise Garden

A drought is a perfect opportunity to change habits by re-conceiving your yard or garden as a landscape that reflects the reality of the environment we now live in.

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

Green Cities – Part III: Technology, Parks & Landscape Design

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather
Weingart Center Garden
Weingart Center Garden

Over the last two months, in Parts I and II of this series, we have looked at how nature, and in particular “Green Cities”  impact not only our health and well-being but how they can positively contribute to a whole range of intellectual, emotional and developmental issues.

Part I focused on how interaction with nature can help alleviate mental fatigue and relax and restore the mind. It also presented compelling documentation on the importance of nature in child development.

Part II demonstrated how the out of doors and bringing nature into the work environment can positively affect workers’ performance. It also describes how nature can positively impact children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and individuals suffering from Alzheimers and Dementia.

Weingart Center Garden
Weingart Center Garden

Part III, and the last of the series, looks at how we can go about achieving what has been described in Parts I and II and what roles technology, parks and landscape design play in making this happen. As an example of my own work in this area, I have included information, photographs and links to the Weingart Center Garden here in Los Angeles, which I designed and believe incorporates and exemplifies the underlying premise of this series:  we all have a deep, significant and perhaps even a genetic need to to be a part of and interact with nature.

Published by the College of the Environment, University of Washington, the project’s support was provided by the national Urban and Community Forestry program of the USDA Forest Service, State and Private Forestry. Summary prepared by Kathleen Wolf, Ph.D. and Katrina Flora, December 26, 2010. You can read it in its entirety at http://depts.washington.edu/hhwb/Thm_Mental.html.

Can Technological Nature Be Effective

The question has been asked, “Couldn’t we simply substitute aspects of the natural world with technological depictions of nature?” Can technology provide an adequate substitute in places where the natural world is some distance away?

When comparing subjects’ reactions in windowless offices with and without plasma TV “windows” showing natural scenes, participants preferred the offices with plasma-display windows and noted increased psychological well-being and cognitive functioning as a result of this connection to the natural world. In another study comparing viewing formats, outdoor views through glass windows were more restorative than blank walls, but plasma windows were no more restorative than blank walls to the subjects’ sense of well-being. Subjects’ heart rates were lower in offices with the glass windows than in those with plasma windows and blank walls.

It seems that artificially represented nature is not an effective substitute for directly perceived nature as it does not provide equivalent benefits and positive experiences. Such technological representations could be useful to some degree in situations where it is difficult to incorporate “real” nature, as in space shuttles, submarines, or other extreme environments where there is an unavoidable disconnect from the natural world.

Nature in the Community

Weingart Center Garden
Weingart Center Garden

Green Space for Physical Activity

Play and exercise are an important part of children’s and adults’ development and brain function. As children, play can help develop cognitive thinking and reasoning abilities. Later in life, exercise likewise helps increase and maintain the brain’s cognitive capacity.

Researchers have found that exercise boosts the growth of new nerve cells and improves learning and memory in adult mice: newly formed nerve cells were concentrated in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is key in memory formation, spatial learning, and conscious recall of facts, episodes, and unique events.

Urban green spaces encourage exercise and are a more restorative environment than indoor settings, with a greater positive effect on mental health. Additionally, urban green spaces offer a free, accessible, public environment in which to exercise and play to those who cannot afford a private gym membership.

Weingart-2
Weingart Center Garden

A neighborhood than incorporates easily accessible green spaces into its design may also improve social cohesion and interaction. As a result, the mental health of individuals may also remain positive due to a decreased chance of depression and feelings of isolation and increased self-esteem. Effective social support networks have been found to restore feelings of personal control and self-esteem by buffering the effects of stress and poor health.

Green spaces, such as community gardens or even the shade of a large tree, encourage social contact by serving as informal meeting places and sites for group and shared activities. Green spaces can serve as a sort of ecotherapy, as marginalized people can find empowerment, respite from stresses, and personal involvement in environmental stewardship. Green spaces in close proximity to homes encourage exercise, which can improve mental health. As described earlier, studies indicate that having views of nearby nature and living within green spaces can improve worker productivity, reduce stress, improve school performance, and lessen the symptoms of ADD.

Specifically concerning the elderly, social interaction is important as less loneliness is correlated with lower mortality rates, depression, and cognitive impairment. Additionally, in a study of elderly populations that prefer natural over built environments, there is a positive correlation between familiarity of the environment and restorativeness. To promote this, the elderly require easily accessible spaces due to their more limited mobility, so having parks and green spaces in close proximity to their neighborhoods or care centers is especially important.

Landscape Design for Mental Health and Function

Weingart Center Garden
Weingart Center Garden

Park Design

Parks are often scattered about cities, and many cities have too few parks. Based on decades of research findings, parks should be managed as systems, not just for the usual purposes of beauty and recreation, but also to help citizens function at their best. The National Parks and Recreation Association recommends that there be park space within 2 miles of every residence (with ¼- to ½-mile distances optimal for walkability) and that a city’s park system provide 5 to 8 acres of park space for every 1,000 residents.

Planting design within a park is also important. The “savannah hypothesis” argues that people prefer open landscapes with scattered trees, similar to African landscapes in which humans evolved. However, this theory has been recently challenged by evidence showing that the psychological benefits of green space are positively correlated with the diversity of its plant life. People who spent time in a park with greater plant species richness scored higher on various measures of psychological well-being than those subjects in less biodiverse parks.

Weingart Center Garden
Weingart Center Garden

Building/Infrastructure Design

Planters, gardens, green roofs, and other features can be incorporated into building design to address mental health and cognitive function. For example, the soft rhythmic movements of a trees or grass in a light breeze or the light and shade created by cumulus clouds, called Heraclitean motion, are movement patterns that are associated with safety and tranquility, aiding the development of a calm, stable mental state; lighting or space design that mimics Heraclitean motion could be incorporated into building design to create calm, peaceful areas that aid patients’ recovery or improve workers’ or students’ productivity. Bright daylight supports circadian rhythms, enhances mood, promotes neurological health, and affects alertness; increasing the use of natural light and reducing dependence on electric lighting can also significantly improve mental health and function.

Design can also encourage learning and exploration by creating spaces that are not immediately interpreted but allow discovery through sensory exploration. Effective architectural design is not easy to achieve: built objects and spaces that are too complex at first glance can become daunting, overwhelming, and too difficult to understand, while those that are easily scanned do not encourage interaction. If the built environment simulates the layered complexity of ecosystems, a person’s sensory systems will be engaged to explore and learn about the built object or space, which encourages cognitive function through a high level of visual fascination and mystery.

Weingart Center Garden

A Little Bit Of Country On Skid Row

In May of 2010 I began designing and eventually building the Weingart Center Garden. The Garden is adjacent to the Weingart Center, in the heart of the skid-row section of downtown Los Angeles. I wrote about this experience in one of my first newsletters entitled, “A Little Bit of Country on Skid Row.” That newsletter detailed my experiences and became the basis for an article I wrote for Worldscape, a Chinese publication, in both English and Chinese, that focuses on global landscape design.

The Worldscape editors requested an article describing one of my projects and I thought the design and construction of the Center’s garden was ideal. It demonstrated how a public/private partnership (the Weingart Center, AmeriCorps and me) can make a major contribution to one of the worst neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Here is a link to a PDF of that article: Worldscape-Weingart and a video documenting  the Garden’s construction is available here: Weingart-Construction.

The Weingart Center Garden – A Testimonial

The Garden that Garden of Eva designed and constructed for the Weingart Center, with the assistance of AmeriCorps, is a beautiful, comfortable and extremely functional outdoor living space for our clients, guests and community. Eva provided both the technical understanding of our needs and the vision to make the best use of the space. It provides a much-needed extension to our facility and it is continually used for meetings, training and fund-raising events, as well as barbecues for our staff, clients, guests and the community.

This small park provides refuge, relief and is a pleasant contrast to Skid Row and the city’s streets, sidewalks, large business complexes and housing developments. When you enter, the feeling you get is like walking into a country garden filled with beautiful flowers, trees, plants and a water fountain. We couldn’t be happier with the outcome and Eva’s continuing maintenance of our Garden.

Maurice Ochoa, Vice President – Facilities Services
Weingart Center for the Homeless

 

Fall Is The Time For Planting California Natives

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

pumpkin-patch-playing-in-the-dirt-wordpressWhile a large part of this country is now in the process of preparing their gardens for winter and carving pumpkins for Halloween, here in Southern California our mild Mediterranean climate allows us the joy of year-round gardening. With the soil still summer warm and our rainy season just around the corner, from now (mid-October) through January is the ideal time to plant. And from all the landscapes I’m currently designing and building, fall appears to have surpassed spring as my busiest time of year.

California Native Plants

Except for tropicals, subtropicals and summer vegetables, which are best planted in early summer when the soil is warm, everything else is a go. This includes trees, shrubs and ground covers but most of all California native and Mediterranean plants. These species are particularly well suited to our seasonal rhythms. But don’t be concerned if, for the first couple of months, there isn’t much going on above ground, because come spring, the growth of healthy new foliage will demonstrate that during the intervening months, the plant has been busy establishing it’s root system.

I am particularly fond of using California native plants, not only for their diversity of foliage and blooms, but because the majority of them are drought tolerant, which is very important given the state of our water resources. What follows is a listing of California natives (extracted from Wikipedia) that I suggest you consider when laying out or adding to your garden or landscape this fall.

Selected Perennials

Sunny habitats

California Buckwheat
California Buckwheat

Shady habitats

Ferns

Selected bulbs

California Hyacinth
California Hyacinth

Selected annuals and wildflowers

Selected vines

Dutchman's Pipe
Dutchman’s Pipe

Selected grasses

Grasses:

Grasslike:

Selected succulents

Dudleyas

Sedums

See also

Arid Southwest Cities’ Plea: Lose the Lawn

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Malibu_11An important article appeared in the New York Times this past Sunday, August 11, 2013, by Ian Lovett, entitled  Arid Southwest Cities’ Plea: Lose the Lawn. As detailed  in the article and quoted in this blog, it examines a very serious concern––lack of water––and how the Southwest and California and Los Angeles, in particular, are dealing with it.

This is a cause that is near and dear to my heart, aspects of which I’ve written about on a number of occasions, which you’re more than welcome to check out:

Help Save Water & Save Money

Are You And Your Garden Stressed Out

Five Water-Conserving Tips For Summer Gardening

Water, Water Everywhere … So Where Did It Go?

Southern California’s Most Pressing Problem

A Drought-Resistant Lawn … Is It Possible?

residential-sustainable-1

In the article, it was noted that since 2009, when the Los Angeles’ rebate program began, the city has paid $1.4 million to homeowners willing to rip out their front lawns, and more than one million square feet of grass has been removed and replanted with succulents and drought-tollerant native California plants. New city parks provide only token patches of grass, surrounded by native plants, and the park outside City Hall, which was once a field of grass, has been transformed into a garden of succulents.

The first five months of this year were the driest on record in California, with reservoirs in the state at 20 percent below normal levels. The lawn rebate program here will save approximately 47 million gallons of water each year, according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. So concerned about this issue, Los Angeles, last month, raised its rebate from $2 a square foot of grass removed to $2.50. Long Beach now offers $3 a square foot.

“The era of the lawn in the West is over,” said Paul Robbins, the director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin. “The water limits are insurmountable.”

City officials across the region have hailed turf removal as vital, given the chronic water shortages.

Las Vegas Made It Work

Las VegasLas Vegas presents a model of how quickly the landscape can change when a city moves aggressively. In 2003, after a drought wiped out the city’s water resources, the Las Vegas Valley Water District offered what officials believe was the first turf removal rebate program in the country.

Since then, the water district has paid out nearly $200 million to remove 165.6 million square feet of grass from residences and businesses.

In the winter, watering is allowed only one day a week. Homeowners who take advantage of the city’s rebate must sign a deed restriction stating that even if the property were to be sold, grass could not be reinstalled unless the new owner paid back the rebate, with interest.

The city’s investment has paid off. In the last decade, 9.2 billion gallons of water have been saved through turf removal, and water use in Southern Nevada has been cut by a third, even as the population has continued to grow.

“The landscape in Southern Nevada has changed dramatically,” said Patricia Mulroy, the general manager of the Las Vegas Valley Water District. “If you had driven through a single-family development in the 1990s, it would have had grass all the way around. Today, you find desert landscaping. You see very little grass.”

Save Water & Save Money

If you would like to examine the possibility of re-landscaping your home with succulents and drought-tollerant native species, and save water and money, give us a call––we are specialists in creating beautiful, sustainable landscapes.