March 12, 2019. By Cassy Aoyagi: There is simply no better place to revel in the real beauty of Los Angeles than the annual Native Plant Garden Tour hosted by the Theodore Payne Foundation. While it is barely humanly possible to make it to each of the tour’s gardens, the attempt makes for a fascinating way to get to know the true beauty of this city!
The tour means even so much more than that to me, personally. You all know that if I could give this city and all of its kiddos anything in the world, it would be a city full of flowing, connected, authentic habitat. A home that could never be mistaken for any other. A connection with nature that lifts hearts and minds and powers our mutual resilience. This tour always feels like the prerequisite to achieving that vision.
As I look at this butterfly resting on the wildflowers at the entrance to Garden 9 in Sun Valley, I think of how it delighted the children who visited in 2017. It feels like Native Plant Garden Tour-goers get a glimpse of the LA that is forever in my minds eye. One where a 35 mile stroll from my home in Tujunga to the South Bay would be deeply shaded by oak canopy, seasonally brightened by the pink of Western Redbud blooms or the buttercup yellow of Palo Verde. It would be a perpetually-evolving, bloom-filled route dancing with butterflies like this one.
We would see an incredible diversity of meadows and lawns possible nowhere else in the world. We might marvel at the bounding mounds of Deer Grass and Carex pansa in Garden 6 (New!), which stayed verdant through last year’s record heat.
Of course, the edited lawn of edible, medicinal Yarrow in Garden 24, a perennial favorite, is completely different in aesthetic. We’d pass ever more options, all equally lush, lovely and low water along our way!
In this city of my dreams, our stroll to a friends house would be not unlike what people are now traveling to Lake Elsinore and Anza-Borrego to see. The super bloom would be in our parkways. We’d walk through the super bloom on our way into city hall, the library, or our local shops.
We’d be wrapped in sandy-soil loving super bloom as we stop to chat in your beach city front garden. You’d fall in love with the fragrance of heat-loving chaparral natives as we roast marshmallows at my fire pit.
You might say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one! 😉 The other wonderful experience available on tour is the knowledge that so many dear friends are not just dreaming but digging in alongside us to make this dream a reality. We couldn’t be more grateful to the Carlsons, Taylors, Weiss’ and Woods’ for opening their gardens and their hearts to Native Plant Garden tour-goers. We can’t wait to share the weekend, these gardens, and these beautiful people with you!