Watts Neighborhood Kids Share Fruit Trees with Their Community

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Nearly thirty students in the Watts neighborhood of South Los Angeles rose at 7 AM last Saturday to spend the day at their high school Alliance Cindy and Bill Simon Technology Academy, or Simon Tech, as everyone seems to call it. If you know teenagers, this fact alone is remarkable. But it gets even better. They came not to play but to give away fruit trees and teach others how to plant them. Anyone in the community who wanted a tree —  apple or peach — could have one.… Read more >>

Kids Choose Toys Over Trees?

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There’s been quite a bit of outrage over the Toys‘R’Us “Meet the Trees” ad campaign. If you haven’t seen it, I’ll give you a brief synopsis: kids think they’re going on a boring tree-related field trip, but instead get to go to Toys‘R’Us to pick out a free toy. Cue great wonderment and enthusiasm from the kids; girls get dolls, boys get toy guns.

Of course, as a member of an organization that believes that trees also can get kids excited, initially I was appalled.… Read more >>

The LA River: From “Bad Dream” to Green

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Fed-up with the physical appearance of your neighborhood? Aching for a change? It’s simple, really; just jumpstart a stalled nonprofit! Meet Rick Rabins—husband, former jeweler, TreePeople Citizen Forester, and acting president of the nonprofit organization The Village Gardeners (his “full-time gig on the side”).

Rick Rabins’ story begins when he realized an oleander scorch disease was wiping out the plants in front of his house on the Los Angeles River. “After having a beautiful hedge like that….” he reflects, “having that deadwood—it’s like a bad dream.” Determined to reverse the process, he knocked on doors of his neighbors until one referred him to Annette Fuller—an original founder of what would become The Village Gardeners.… Read more >>

No Need to Plant-Sit These California Natives

Black Sage and Flannelbush, photos by Donnella Anderson

Going on vacation? Trying to find someone to care for your garden while you’re away? Well, this amazing duo of SoCal natives goes on vacay with you, as they need almost no water in the summer. Black sage and Flannel bush will lounge around your garden, perfectly blending with the beautiful and laid-back vibe of the SoCal summer. So take your time off and come back home to a garden that will look as fab as you do!

Black sage (Salvia mellifera)
Evergreen shrub, California native measuring 5’ tall and 5’ wide.… Read more >>

Keeping Memories of Trees Alive and Growing in L.A.

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Did you grow up in Los Angeles? Can you remember what the streets and parks looked like when you were a small child? Is it hard to imagine what used to stand where a new mall or office building now looms?

For Josh, growth is measured by a pine tree in Van Nuys.

When Josh was in the first grade in the early 1980s, he went on a field trip to TreePeople with his class from the Open Magnet School. The memory was still vivid when he came to talk to us at our booth at an Earth Day event this year.… Read more >>

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 >>

Downtown L.A. Goes from Gray to Green

Photo: Laura Velkei

What’s better than a tree planting to beautify downtown L.A.? Many tree plantings to beautify downtown L.A.!

TreePeople Citizen Forester Gabrielle Newmark rallied her downtown Los Angeles Arts District community to plant 27 trees—including well-adapted Australian willows and pink trumpet trees—on April 27. Enthusiastic volunteers named each tree so that now Hector, Blossom, Roscoe, Ilean, Bob Barker, and the rest are happily installed and on their way to shading the city streets.

Gabrielle knew she was following the lead of some pioneering greening efforts that had begun making a difference in this gray and gritty part of town.… Read more >>

Free Workshops on Landscape Transformation, this Saturday, May 4

Photo: Laura Velkei

Got plans for Saturday morning? If not, then come up to TreePeople and attend one of our free quarterly workshops on how to transform your home and neighborhood landscapes. You’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about rain water harvesting, replacing a lawn with native plants, or planting trees—but were afraid to ask. Learn how you can make big sustainable changes at your home, and in our city, with simple DIY projects.

Read more about the May 4 workshops in the Los Angeles TimesWeekend Radar!… Read more >>