Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fall has been just too beautiful here to be inside behind my computer keyboard, and I haven’t yet gone wireless! We only had one severe wind event, and we’ve had some lovely rains. Been catching up on outside projects (irrigation, electrical, and tidying the garden.) Studying quite a bit, too. That is my excuse for lack of blog entries. This morning, I am inside waiting for a contractor to arrive.

Fall color in my garden…

Above is a Crape Myrtle tree (Lagerstroemia indica) in my front yard. For a Crape Myrtle, it is quite a large specimen that I estimate to be 50 to 60 years old. Perhaps the original owner planted it. In any season, it never fails to provide a lovely show. Even in winter, its stately form, mottled bark and fluted branches boldly anchor the garden. Frankly, it was not perfectly placed. A little too close to the house, it drops litter onto two driveways. However, in addition to its show-worthiness, it provides light summer shade. Additionally, it draws the eye away from nearby rather boring two-car-garage door and storage along the side yard. To me, its benefits far outweigh its faults. As long as it wants to live in my garden, I am happy it shares the space.

As street trees, Crape Myrtles tend to have a bad reputation here, mainly because the city has planted them in the tiniest of tree wells, surrounded by miles of concrete and asphalt. While moderately drought-tolerant in maturity, the street trees along Ventura Boulevard are shamefully neglected, struggling lollipops that annoy shop owners by dropping blooms, leaves, and seedpods without providing a worthy show or canopy.

Last month, Councilman Dennis Zine held a meeting to kick off the Woodland Hills Community Coalition, working toward improvements along Ventura Boulevard (from Lindley to Valley Circle.) During a brainstorming session, the trees took significant criticism. The facilitator stepped in and mentioned it would be helpful when considering tree placement, also to look at developing an overall plan, including other plant materials. Lucky for me, he then went on to ask if there was a Landscape Designer in the audience. I was the only one, and raised my hand. I was there representing the recently formed Costanso Neighborhood Watch. Others included store owners, city representatives, or leaders in business or homeowners' groups. Later, I exchanged contact information with a couple of key people involved with the Coalition. Very excited to have the opportunity to help plan climate-appropriate (tree and other) plant selection along nearby section of Ventura Boulevard. You can bet I’ll not be shy about sharing how they need to be cared for, too!

Have in mind a vision of quiet beauty along a boulevard lined with permeable, multi-use pathways, that are intermittently shaded by a collection of mature trees of a variety of species, alternating with swathes of native grasses and sages. Okay, maybe a quite far-fetched dream, but sure excites me more than the existing band of gray asphalt lined with stucco-encrusted crates, punctuated by parched pops!

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