Greening Asphalt-Covered Schools: It Never Gets Old

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When I walked into the school office, armed with my spray paint and tape measure, I was greeted by Jorge Alvarez, one of the Victoria Avenue Elementary School Green Team members. “Are we marking the asphalt today?” You would’ve thought it was Christmas, the way his face lit up when I said yes. “Let me come with you,” he volunteered.

We walked together, marking the corners of the tree wells, measuring, and all the while starting to “see” the trees. “Won’t it be great when the kids come out that door and a tree will be the first thing they see ahead of them on the playground?” asked Jorge.… Read more >>

Fruit Trees Go Public

Photo: Vahagn Karapetyan

You’ll have read about and possibly visited the public park orchard planted at Del Aire Park that opened last fall. It’s a Los Angeles County Arts Commission-sponsored project of the artist group Fallen Fruit, famous locally for their neighborhood maps of fruit-bearing trees accessible in public rights of way and the “fruit jams” they hold in L.A. museums and galleries. Like artist Fritz Haeg’s Edible Estates, the Del Aire Fruit Tree Park acquaints the neighborhood with the notion of growing food in front, where everyone can see it and, better, eat it.… Read more >>

No, Sticky Monkeyflower Is Not a Trendy Tropical Drink

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As much as you might want to order a Sticky Monkeyflower from your favorite mixologist, you won’t have luck. To get something with this fun of a name, you’ll have to head to your favorite California native plant nursery (try Theodore Payne Foundation or Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden’s Grow Native Nursery).

Monkeys may not be native to California, but Sticky Monkeyflower, or Bush Monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus and cultivars), is. This evergreen shrub grows to be 2–3’ tall and 2–3’ wide.… Read more >>

Namaste, Girl-Karma!

Photo: David Cassell

If what goes around comes around, then the group Girl-Karma can expect major Earth Day kudos for its members’ commitment to improving environmental health. Our wonderful volunteer Michelle Moy talked about her experience planting trees with TreePeople for the group’s Karma in Action column. She wanted to share what she learned about the benefits of trees, in order to inspire other young women to be agents for change, in their city and for their planet.

Michelle learned, among other things, that people are as important to the health of the urban forest as trees are.… Read more >>

Discover the North Valleyheart Riverwalk, April 21

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In April we branch out on our next community tree walk with partners at the Village Gardeners, who will show us their beautification and restoration efforts along the Los Angeles River in Studio City. Trees and water unite in a leisurely and informative stroll through areas of the designated North Valleyheart Riverwalk Greenway, part of the L.A. River Master Plan. You’ll see the progress of major volunteer planting efforts and find out how you can become involved in raising the standard for environmental stewardship in this area.… Read more >>

Planting Fruit Trees in Food Deserts

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The USDA Economic Research Service publishes the Food Environment Atlas to document, county by county throughout the United States, the percentage of households with limited access to grocery stores—and therefore to adequate nutrition. The interactive map aims to provide a spatial overview of communities’ abilities to access healthy food, but, so far, it doesn’t allow users to drill down to the level of neighborhoods.

In Los Angeles County, known “food deserts” include areas of South L.A. and the Northeast San Fernando Valley.… Read more >>

From the Battlefield to Farm Fields

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America needs one million new farmers; returning war veterans need jobs.

Enter Ground Operations, the new documentary that follows vets who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan only to face a daunting transition back to civilian life. As filmmakers Dulanie Ellis and Raymond Singer show, organic food production is creating a restorative road home. Working with soil, plants, and animals, veterans de-escalate from the high velocity of combat in a revitalizing natural setting. “I realized I could be a nurturer instead of a destroyer, and that was a significant realization for me,” says a Marine.… Read more >>

Grow a Fruit Salad on a Single Tree

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Want to grow a fruit tree, but can’t decide which one? Wouldn’t it be great to have more than one type of fruit on a single tree? It’s possible to have this “fruit salad” effect in your backyard with the amazing technique of grafting.

Grafting is the process of splicing a branch or bud from one tree onto another tree. Grafting deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves in winter) is done in winter when the trees are dormant, or leafless.… Read more >>

Western Redbud: “A tree with year-round interest!”

Photos: Bob Sussman (left), Stan Shebs (right)

Why is the Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis) the best tree ever? Maybe it’s because at this time of year, redbuds are the focal point of any garden lucky enough to have them. This native Californian is a small tree (15–20’ x 15–20’) and does well in most any kind of soil, as long as it is well-drained.

In the late winter and early spring, when most everything else is still dormant and waiting to bud, the red bud has spectacular magenta flowers that are delicate and yet very resilient to cold, wet days.… Read more >>

Learn How to Get Your Landscape Really Green

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You may have noticed that some years in Los Angeles County are wetter—or drier—than others. And in wet years you may also have noticed a lot of unfiltered water rushing off paved surfaces, into storm drains, and out to sea carrying whatever pollutants it washes over. So, not only are we losing water that could be captured for local use or returned to the ground for irrigation, we’re failing to clean it up before it enters our waterways.

But did you know that even in times of drought, what little moisture falls from the sky can be harvested and put to use?… Read more >>