|Mediterranean Garden Society|
The Southern California Branch of the MGS
We met for an afternoon at La Casita del Arroyo, which is Pasadena’s historic community meeting house, water demonstration garden, and butterfly sanctuary perched on the east edge of the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena, CA. La Casita’s building was designed in 1932 by Myron Hunt. The water demonstration garden was designed in 1986 by Yosh Befu and Isabelle Greene. Isabelle Green is a noted landscape architect and a member of our Advisory Board. You can learn more about La Casita at lacasitadelarroyo.org.
The MGS Southern California Branch Member’s Annual Meeting began at 1pm. Local MGS members and friends gathered for a brief meeting to elect the Southern California Branch board of directors and officers for 2015. Virginia Paca (Branch Co-Chair) thanked Advisory Board members present for supporting our efforts to promote sustainable, water-conserving gardening in harmony with our mediterranean climate.
Shelley Harter (Branch Co-Chair) shared photos from the MGS’ recent Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Southern France, where participants visited many extraordinary public and private gardens, such as Nicole de Vesian’s La Louve, Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, and Serre de la Madone. Shelley mentioned plans for next year’s AGM, which will be in Italy on the island of Ischia (October 21-25, 2015), with an optional pre-tour based in Naples and an optional post-tour based in Rome.
Nicholas Staddon, Director of New Plant Introductions at Monrovia Growers, gave a talk and showcased some of Monrovia’s most dramatic and exciting new plants, including some soon to be introduced and some still in development. Plants like the Aloe hybrid with the trademark Super Red, Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Pink Storm’, quince, and the Punica granatum ‘Smith’ variety of pomegranate patented under the name Angel Red are now available in garden centers. Following Nicholas’ informative and fun presentation, we raffled off the plants he brought with him. Did you know that you can order Monrovia plants (http://shop.monrovia.com/) online and have them shipped to your favorite nursery?The meeting concluded with refreshments and conversation under La Casita’s native oaks on a beautiful autumn afternoon.
The Southern California Branch of the MGS hosted an event on the 17th May 2014 entitled ‘Removing your lawn: Inspiration and reality’ at Terry Design, Inc., a landscape architectural studio in Orange County. Barbara Paul and Alison Terry, Board members of the Southern California Branch and landscape designer and landscape architect, respectively, showed examples of “before” and “after” transformations, where lawn was removed and replaced with colorful and imaginative mediterranean plantings and hardscape elements, allowing homeowners to envision how they could turn their horticultural lawn deserts into gardens filled with texture, scent and color, and food/habitat for native birds and insects. Barbara and Alison’s experience in the field offered insight into the realities of removing lawn, illustrating the multitude of factors that determine the level of success you will have based on time of year, timeline for completing the project, type of lawn, level of maintenance, and willingness to use herbicides.
After the slide show and open forum, we travelled to two local gardens where front yard lawns were removed and replaced with mediterranean plantings, illustrating how much more beautiful and satisfying these gardens are than lawn. One homeowner enthusiastically recounted to MGS visitors how she obtained National Wildlife Certification for her garden and how much she and her neighbours love the new look. The overall message of this event was it’s worth it to put the effort into removing your lawn and replacing it with mediterranean plantings and functional hardscape or paths to increase your enjoyment of your property, entice beneficial insects and birds for pollination, reduce overall water use and runoff, and make your plantings feel part of the mediterranean planting community. By being smart and informed about the process of removing your lawn, you can embark upon your project without succumbing to many of the pitfalls that discourage gardeners from attempting this transformation.
All three MGS California Branches hosted a garden experience to Santa Barbara and Ojai, California. On Friday, our tour visited the extraordinary and historic Lotusland house and garden. We had lunch and a visit to San Marcos Growers, where Randy Baldwin gave us a tour of the nursery. That afternoon, we went to a private waterwise garden designed by landscape architect Lane Goodkind. Afterwards we were treated to a talk and tour of the Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens by Grant Castleberg, the landscape architect who in the 1970s worked with Elizabeth Kellam de Forest in planning the garden, and has recently replaced the beds with drought-tolerant plants.
On Saturday morning we went to Ojai and visited the Taft Garden guided by Mr. Taft and Laurence Nicklin to see the Australian and South American planted gardens. After lunch at the Taft Garden, we visited three private gardens – all using a large selection of Australian and South African plants that, fortunately for us, we were able to see in bloom. We concluded our day with refreshments at Jo O’Connell’s remarkable Australian plant nursery.