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Shelley Harter

Virginia Paca

Christine Moore

Barbara Paul

Alison Terry

Marie McDuffie

Carol Bornstein
George Brumder
Mike Evans
Jim Folsom
David Fross
Isabelle Greene
Gary Jones
Bart O'Brien
Pamela Palmer
Bob Perry
Nancy Goslee Power
Chris Rosmini
Lili Singer
Jan Smithen

Nicholas Staddon
Nan Sterman
John Tikotsky



The Southern California Branch of the MGS  

Past Events   2016    2015    2014    2013    Older

November 2012
Tour of Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach and Annual Branch Meeting

MGS members enjoyed a glorious afternoon at Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach beginning with a lecture, Spanish Influence on California Gardens, by author and previous MGS president Katherine Greenberg, which was followed by tours of the gardens, homestead, and a new LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified visitors’ center. At Rancho Los Alamitos we were able to see elements of traditional Spanish gardens – patios for outdoor living, pools and fountains, and the integration of interior and exterior spaces.

This important historic site curates the gardens and homestead of the Bixby family from the early 20th century, providing a tranquil hilltop island in the middle of metropolitan Los Angeles County. What makes the rancho even more interesting is the new visitor center which integrates the site into the larger historical context of the area, including native Americans, Spanish missionaries and land grant recipients. Executive Director, Pamela Seager, went out of her way to give our group the VIP treatment with tours tailored to MGS members’ interests, personally making sure every detail was in place. Thank you Pamela!

From its early days the ranch covered 300,000 acres as part of a land grant deeded to Manuel Nieto in 1790. In 1842, the ranch was acquired by Abel Stearns with only a four-room adobe house used for ranch hands. In 1882, John Bixby acquired the ranch and lived there with his wife Susan and children. Susan Bixby was a keen garden enthusiast and began developing the gardens.

In 1906, son Fred and Florence Bixby’s family moved into the old ranch house. Florence, with the help of talented landscape designers such as the Olmstead Brothers (successors to their famous father, Frederick Law Olmstead), Florence Yoch, Paul Howard, and Henry Hertrich, developed a series of eleven distinct garden spaces around the adobe house to provide for outdoor living. These areas include patio gardens, a walled “Secret Garden”, a geranium walk, a jacaranda walk, a desert garden, a cut flower garden, a rose garden, a “Friendly” garden (filled will cuttings from friends), and a California native garden.
The adobe house museum is filled with a fascinating collection of several generations of Bixby family possessions and provides a glimpse into Southern California rancho life in the 1930s. The interior rooms display the art and furniture as it was used by family, and modifications to the original adobe homestead have been left undisturbed, leaving one with the feeling of a real family life story.
If you are planning a visit to Rancho Los Alamitos, please allow enough time, as there is much to see and learn about the early days of California.

We very much want to thank Katherine Greenberg for her informative talk to the MGS members. Be sure to check out Katherine’s recent edition of the book Growing California Native Plants,a practical and informative hands-on native plant reference guide for growing California natives (reviewed in TMG 70, October 2012).

Katherine Greenberg

A century-old Moreton Bay fig tree planted by Susan Bixby in front of the porch

Walking through the opuntia wall. William Hertich, garden curator from the
Henry Huntington estate, helped Florence Bixby design her cactus garden.

Rancho’s docent, Big Ed, explaining about
Florence Bixby’s water container to hold her cut flowers

The Rose Garden designed by Florence Yoch

June 2012
Tour of the Getty Villa Gardens in Malibu

Glorious sunshine and sparkling ocean vistas greeted the over 48 participants who attended a tour of the mediterranean gardens of the Getty Villa Museum in Malibu, California. Landscape architect Matt Randolph, who led the tour, was involved in both the original and updated landscape designs for the property. He provided a fascinating history of the evolution of the Villa Museum and gardens, whose current design is based on the ancient Roman villa, Villa dei Papyri, that was covered in ash during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

The excavation of preserved artifacts provided information not only on the residence, but also on plant materials and garden design. Matt discussed how a palate of historically accurate plant species were used in the areas closest to the villa, and then merged into a wider plant base of mediterranean plants utilizing species native to the nearby Santa Monica Mountains.
The Villa’s seamless connection of interior and exterior spaces filled with fountains and colonnades provided an inspired example of gracious living in a mediterranean climate. Refreshments followed.

Virginia Paca 

Getty Villa East Garden with Matt Randolph at MSG Southern California event on June 23

Getty Villa Inner Peristylium with bronze statues

Outer Peristylium at Getty Villa with MSG Southern California branch members

Main Peristylium at Getty Villa looking towards Santa Monica Mountains

Herb Garden at Getty Villa with lavender and pruned bay

May 2012
Visit to “Camino de Robles”

Board members as well as board advisory members and guests enjoyed Ed and Madeleine Landry’s house and garden for a special tour of their hundred-acre plus property overlooking Simi Valley. In 2002, the Landrys hosted the Southern California Branch Annual Meeting. This revisit was an opportunity to see the development of the Landry property featuring California oaks and native plants, and also to hear the story of the outcome of the 2003 fire. Refreshments followed.

Gorgeous Southern California landscape above Simi Valley

Natural boulder waterfall

Gathering place under the majestic oaks

Two founding board members of the Southern California Branch,
Christine Moore and George Brumder, enjoying the garden

May 2012
Grow: A Garden Festival. LA Arboretum, Arcadia, CA

The Southern California Branch had an exhibit at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden’s festival – GROW: A Garden Festival. We had 85 visitors to our booth. Thank you to all those who attended our exhibit and also to the volunteers who staffed the table.

Kathleen Bescoby and Erica Rulofs staffing our MGS table

At the LA Arboretum’s GROW: A Garden Festival - Agave vilmoriniana in bloom

February 2012
California New Water Regulations and Visit to Fullerton Arboretum
Pam Berstler of G3, The Green Gardens Group, and Chad Blais, Water Quality Specialist of the City of Fullerton, presented a program on how to use water efficiently in our landscapes. Pam engaged us with an understanding of California’s Water Regulation AB1881. while Chad spoke from his practical and hands-on experience of reducing water use for residents and commercial properties within the City of Fullerton.

Greg Pongetti, Native Plan Curator at the Fullerton Arboretum, gave us a tour of the drought-tolerant gardens: Pavilion Garden, California Native Garden, Channel Island Garden, California Meadow, Chili Garden, and the Mediterranean Basin Garden. We were fortunate to tour the arboretum when many of our California native plants were in bloom, Glossularia speciosa (syn. Ribes speciosum), Mimulus aurantiacus, Lupinus succulentus, Nemophila insignis var. menziesii, Rhus lentii, white flowering Ceanothus spinosus and many more. We returned to the pavilion for refreshments.

The Pavilion Garden at the Fullerton Arboretum

Senecio serpens and Lantana montevidensi

Greg Pongetti, Native Plant Curator, giving us a tour of the Fullerton Arboretum

Rhus lentii
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