The Southern California Branch of the MGS
Saturday 12 October - Alta Loma
Sam and Alfreda Maloof Home and Garden Tour
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Contribution to MGS garden at Sparoza
We would like to acknowledge our MGS Southern California Branch’s donation to the MGS garden at Sparoza in recognition of the ongoing development and care of the garden and the excellence of its work to our society. Our branch’s donation is to be spent with Sally Razelou’s discretion, as she has been the custodian of the garden and has improved and extended this tremendously for over 20 years.
We hope our branch’s contribution will inspire other MGS branches and individual members to make donations of their own to the MGS garden at Sparoza.
The garden at Sparoza, located outside Athens, is the home and the birthplace of The Mediterranean Garden Society. We believe you will enjoy reading about the history of the society and learning about the garden which can be found here.
Contribution to the Arlington Garden
Our Southern California Branch also made a donation to the Arlington Garden in Pasadena, California, a remarkably successful and widely-admired community-created and supported garden with only modest government support. Arlington Garden is a three-acre botanical garden located at the corner of Arlington Drive and Pasadena Avenue. This garden is on a Caltrans site that stood vacant for 40 years awaiting construction of the 710 freeway. Now this garden shows people how attractive and effective a low water Mediterranean-climate garden can be. We encourage you to visit the garden.
Their mission is to develop, operate and care for Arlington Garden to illustrate the beauty and efficiency of such a waterwise garden living in harmony with our mediterranean climate; to present Arlington Garden as a public botanic garden, which promotes the art, enjoyment and knowledge of horticulture; and to provide a place for serenity and quiet enjoyment in our urban setting.
Screening of Women in the Dirt Film - Descanso Gardens, La Canada Flintridge
We had a full house of members and guests and we were greeted with boxes of popcorn to view the screening of the film Women in the Dirt. The film highlights the work of seven award-winning women who have made their mark in the field: Cheryl Barton, Andrea Cochran, Isabelle Greene, Mia Lehrer, Lauren Melendrez, Pamela Palmer and Katherine Spitz. Our guests said they were inspired by the women who created these sustainable–artistic landscapes.
Pamela Palmer, who was featured in the film, led a very informative question and answer session after the screening.
Landscape Architect Pamela Palmer telling us
about the making of the film and her projects
Most of the attendees came early to enjoy the beautiful spring day at Descanso Gardens and to view the camellias on display at the Camellia Society Show.
One of the many camellias blooming at Descanso Gardens
At Descanso Gardens, a woven hedge growing from
Malus x adstringens 'Hopa' (ornamental crab apple)
Tour of Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach and Annual Branch Meeting
MGS members enjoyed a glorious afternoon at Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach beginning with a lecture, Spanish Influence on California Gardens, by author and previous MGS president Katherine Greenberg, which was followed by tours of the gardens, homestead, and a new LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified visitors’ center. At Rancho Los Alamitos we were able to see elements of traditional Spanish gardens – patios for outdoor living, pools and fountains, and the integration of interior and exterior spaces.
This important historic site curates the gardens and homestead of the Bixby family from the early 20th century, providing a tranquil hilltop island in the middle of metropolitan Los Angeles County. What makes the rancho even more interesting is the new visitor center which integrates the site into the larger historical context of the area, including native Americans, Spanish missionaries and land grant recipients. Executive Director, Pamela Seager, went out of her way to give our group the VIP treatment with tours tailored to MGS members’ interests, personally making sure every detail was in place. Thank you Pamela!
From its early days the ranch covered 300,000 acres as part of a land grant deeded to Manuel Nieto in 1790. In 1842, the ranch was acquired by Abel Stearns with only a four-room adobe house used for ranch hands. In 1882, John Bixby acquired the ranch and lived there with his wife Susan and children. Susan Bixby was a keen garden enthusiast and began developing the gardens.
In 1906, son Fred and Florence Bixby’s family moved into the old ranch house. Florence, with the help of talented landscape designers such as the Olmstead Brothers (successors to their famous father, Frederick Law Olmstead), Florence Yoch, Paul Howard, and Henry Hertrich, developed a series of eleven distinct garden spaces around the adobe house to provide for outdoor living. These areas include patio gardens, a walled “Secret Garden”, a geranium walk, a jacaranda walk, a desert garden, a cut flower garden, a rose garden, a “Friendly” garden (filled will cuttings from friends), and a California native garden.
The adobe house museum is filled with a fascinating collection of several generations of Bixby family possessions and provides a glimpse into Southern California rancho life in the 1930s. The interior rooms display the art and furniture as it was used by family, and modifications to the original adobe homestead have been left undisturbed, leaving one with the feeling of a real family life story.
If you are planning a visit to Rancho Los Alamitos, please allow enough time, as there is much to see and learn about the early days of California.
We very much want to thank Katherine Greenberg for her informative talk to the MGS members. Be sure to check out Katherine’s recent edition of the book Growing California Native Plants,a practical and informative hands-on native plant reference guide for growing California natives (reviewed in TMG 70, October 2012).
A century-old Moreton Bay fig tree planted by Susan Bixby in front of the porch
Walking through the opuntia wall. William Hertich, garden curator from the
Henry Huntington estate, helped Florence Bixby design her cactus garden.
Rancho’s docent, Big Ed, explaining about
Florence Bixby’s water container to hold her cut flowers
The Rose Garden designed by Florence Yoch
Tour of the Getty Villa Gardens in Malibu
Glorious sunshine and sparkling ocean vistas greeted the over 48 participants who attended a tour of the mediterranean gardens of the Getty Villa Museum in Malibu, California. Landscape architect Matt Randolph, who led the tour, was involved in both the original and updated landscape designs for the property. He provided a fascinating history of the evolution of the Villa Museum and gardens, whose current design is based on the ancient Roman villa, Villa dei Papyri, that was covered in ash during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
The excavation of preserved artifacts provided information not only on the residence, but also on plant materials and garden design. Matt discussed how a palate of historically accurate plant species were used in the areas closest to the villa, and then merged into a wider plant base of mediterranean plants utilizing species native to the nearby Santa Monica Mountains.
The Villa’s seamless connection of interior and exterior spaces filled with fountains and colonnades provided an inspired example of gracious living in a mediterranean climate. Refreshments followed.
Getty Villa East Garden with Matt Randolph at MSG Southern California event on June 23.
Getty Villa Inner Peristylium with bronze statues.
Outer Peristylium at Getty Villa with MSG Southern California branch members.
Main Peristylium at Getty Villa looking towards Santa Monica Mountains.
Herb Garden at Getty Villa with lavender and pruned bay.
Visit to “Camino de Robles”
Board members as well as board advisory members and guests enjoyed Ed and Madeleine Landry’s house and garden for a special tour of their hundred-acre plus property overlooking Simi Valley. In 2002, the Landrys hosted the Southern California Branch Annual Meeting. This revisit was an opportunity to see the development of the Landry property featuring California oaks and native plants, and also to hear the story of the outcome of the 2003 fire. Refreshments followed.
Gorgeous Southern California landscape above Simi Valley.
Natural boulder waterfall.
Gathering place under the majestic oaks.
Two founding board members of the Southern California Branch,
Christine Moore and George Brumder, enjoying the garden.
Grow: A Garden Festival. LA Arboretum, Arcadia, CA
The Southern California Branch had an exhibit at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden’s festival – GROW: A Garden Festival. We had 85 visitors to our booth. Thank you to all those who attended our exhibit and also to the volunteers who staffed the table.
Kathleen Bescoby and Erica Rulofs staffing our MGS table.
At the LA Arboretum’s GROW: A Garden Festival - Agave vilmoriniana in bloom.
California New Water Regulations and Visit to Fullerton Arboretum
Pam Berstler of G3, The Green Gardens Group, and Chad Blais, Water Quality Specialist of the City of Fullerton, presented a program on how to use water efficiently in our landscapes. Pam engaged us with an understanding of California’s Water Regulation AB1881. while Chad spoke from his practical and hands-on experience of reducing water use for residents and commercial properties within the City of Fullerton.
Greg Pongetti, Native Plan Curator at the Fullerton Arboretum, gave us a tour of the drought-tolerant gardens: Pavilion Garden, California Native Garden, Channel Island Garden, California Meadow, Chili Garden, and the Mediterranean Basin Garden. We were fortunate to tour the arboretum when many of our California native plants were in bloom, Glossularia speciosa (syn. Ribes speciosum), Mimulus aurantiacus, Lupinus succulentus, Nemophila insignis var. menziesii, Rhus lentii, white flowering Ceanothus spinosus and many more. We returned to the pavilion for refreshments.
The Pavilion Garden at the Fullerton Arboretum.
Senecio serpens and Lantana montevidensi.
Greg Pongetti, Native Plant Curator, giving us a tour of the Fullerton Arboretum.
Sustainable Urban Agriculture Program - Huntington Ranch, San Marino
Scott Kleinrock, Project Coordinator for the Huntington Ranch, gave us a talk and tour of the Ranch, which is part demonstration garden, part outdoor classroom, and part research lab to study and explore sustainable urban agriculture. Scott explained the new sustainable features relating to urban agriculture at the Ranch, pruned fruit trees, growing vegetables in containers, plants to grow for beneficial insects, type of irrigation that is used and more.
At the Huntington Botanical Center’s Audiovisual Lab, Tom Spellman, Southwestern Sales Manager of Dave Wilson Nursery and noted fruit growing lecturer, gave a presentation about growing fruit for antioxidants. Lunch followed. Be sure to look at Dave Wilson’s Nursery website for details on 'Backyard Orchard Growing'.
Scott Kleinrock at the Huntington Ranch.
Reducing Your Lawn/ Replacing with Mediterranean Plants – Private Garden in Arcadia
This event took take place in a private garden in Arcadia redesigned by landscape designer Judy Horton with mediterranean plants and gravel to eliminate vast areas of lawn. Bart O’Brien, Director of Special Projects for Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, presented his latest book that he co-authored, Reimagining the California Lawn: Water-conserving Plants, Practices, and Designs by Carol Bornstein, David Fross and Bart O’Brien. Bart discussed ideas for lawn replacements – greenswards, meadows, carpet and tapestry gardens, including his favorite Californian native and mediterranean plants. He spoke about the best way to eliminate or 'shrink' a lawn.
Judy Horton told how she redesigned the garden by reducing the size of the lawn and replanting with mediterranean climate plants - fig, olive and citrus trees, iris, lavender and tapestry panels of low-growing mediterranean flowers, herbs and succulents. Tours of the garden were given by Bart and Judy, refreshments followed.
After removing the lawn.
Book signing & garden walk with Bob Perry - Arlington Garden, Pasadena
Noted horticulturist, professor, author and Southern California MGS Advisory Board member Bob Perry presented his latest book Landscape Plants for California Gardens. We strolled through the garden as Bob discussed plants and offered ideas for sustainable garden practices. Refreshments and a social interlude followed.
September / October 2009
Gardening Under Mediterranean Skies VII: Lessons in Sustainable Gardening - Santa Barbara
Repeated over two weekends by popular demand, this Pacific Horticulture symposium co-sponsored by the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and the MGS explored the challenges and delights of coastal California's mediterranean climate and showcased the wide range of garden possibilities in a low-water environment, including talks by Carol Bornstein, Pamela Berstler and Owen Dell and visits to Lotusland and gardens designed by Lynn Woodbury, Van Atta Associates and Isabelle Greene.
An Afternoon with Nicholas Staddon -
Monrovia Growers, Azusa, California
Nicholas Staddon, Monrovia’s Director of New Plant Introductions gave a talk entitled 'Monrovia’s Best and Newest Plants for Our Mediterranean-climate Gardens'. Then there was a walk in the garden and a visit to Monrovia’s Garden Center Display with Nicholas, followed by refreshments and a social interlude, after which we drew lots for choice Monrovia plants.