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 >>

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 >>

Citizen Forestry: Why Trees Don’t Make Sustainable Communities, People Do

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On April 27, several bleak and over-paved blocks of downtown L.A.’s Arts District will be transformed by a community planting of 27 trees. Birds will sing, leaves will flutter, and hearts will lift: all because one person had a dream and got enough people excited about that dream to make it a reality.

That’s how Citizen Forestry works.

Gabrielle Newmark, an Arts District resident, was the winner of last year’s TreePeople-GOOD Maker Green City Challenge. She happens to be one of the 1,146 Citizen Foresters TreePeople has trained over the past 30 years, as is her mother, Sheila Newmark, who transformed a nearly treeless elementary school playground in her day.… 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 >>

Three Big Days, One Simple Act


While April 22 is just around the corner and Earth Day is a wonderful time to reflect and celebrate this incredible planet, this month there are two other days that highlight hugely important environmental issues. March 21 is International Day of Forests and March 22 is World Water Day.

How to celebrate? After all, these days commemorate such enormous global issues. If I had to choose one action, it would be this: plant a tree.

With the simple act of planting a tree, each of us can help maintain the urban forest and shift the water crisis, all with one easy but profound step.… 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 >>