How Did Hollywood Get Its Name?

Heteromeles arbutifolia, or toyon. Photo: docentjoyce

Legend has it that early residents of SoCal were so inspired by a lovely holly-like bush that they were inspired to call their new digs Hollywood. The shrub that captured their imagination was the toyon, which is amazing to see this time of year.

In fact, the name Hollywood was coined by H. J. Whitley, the “Father of Hollywood.” Whitely bought 500 acres from E. C. Hurd; Hurd’s wife’s friend (stay with me here), Daeida Wilcox, co-opted the name “Hollywood” from her neighbor, Ivar Weid, who lived in what was then called Holly Canyon.… Read more >>

A Native Re-Greening for TreePeople’s Cistern

Photo: Andy Lipkis

Park operations director Jim Hardie calls it the “grasscrete circle”—also known as the TreePeople cistern, a 216,000-gallon underground storage tank, where we save rainwater filtered and collected from rooftops and the Parking Grove. The stored water irrigates TreePeople’s grounds in the warm months. For the past four years, the circle has been planted with wildflowers, which look gorgeous but require regular weeding. Jim is excited about a low-maintenance alternative called purple needlegrass or Stipa pulchra or Nassala pulchra—the official state grass of California!… Read more >>

The Soil Solution

Soil is the key to life in the urban forest

Soil is as vital to environmental health as the plants that grow in it. If you watched the latest Ken Burns documentary, The Dust Bowl, or if your forebears settled in California because they had to flee the ruined soil of the Midwest, then you know what Burns means by “the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history.” It was a swift, government-encouraged depletion of previously fertile cropland, where nature and people had once cooperated fairly well.

Likewise, when we pave every patch of green in our cities, we undo the perfect systems that nature takes so long to create.… Read more >>


Rain barrel in a home garden

Did you know unfiltered storm water runoff is the number one pollutant in our coastal waters? And in one inch of rainfall, that parched Los Angeles throws away 7.6 BILLION gallons of water into the storm drains? On Saturday, November 17 at 4 PM join me at the DIY stage at the Green Festival where I’ll be teaching how to harvest that precious rainwater with simple at-home projects, like installing a rain barrel, that will make your landscape more sustainable.… Read more >>

“Cash for Grass” is back in L.A. – Rip up your grass and get some green


In L.A., over half of our drinking water goes to water our lawns. Shifting to more climate appropriate plants can save up to 85% of outdoor water use. Now the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Residential Turf Removal program will pay you $1.50 for every square foot of turf you remove. Plan your landscape transformation carefully, and the rebate could completely off-set your costs to replant with California-friendly flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees!… Read more >>