Bofe Instructors

Greener Gardens: Sustainable Garden Practice will start this Thursday evening, June 29 and runs through August 24.  This class is one of the elective classes for the Gardening and Horticulture Certificate Program and the Sustainability Certificate Program.  

David I have taught this course for several years at this point.  We are ever astounded at the quality of our students and their willingness to approach a different way of looking at our everyday life and how our gardens are a point of impact on the world.  Every action we take in our lives aligns our lifestyle with sustainability or lack thereof.  

What can we change as individuals to live a less impactful life and in what way do we compromise?  How can we, in this year of abundant rainfall make changes and improve our immediate surroundings – and what should we look for in governmental policy to make sufficient changes in the Nation’s approach to global warming.  This is not a year to relax − we see our work is ever more important and urgent in the face of mass denial.

This is not the definitive course on being sustainable, but it does impact the way we act in our immediate environment and with our food.  Students have told us this course features more than just a few “Aha” moments!

Meeting in 321 Botany Building on UCLA Campus this quarter. Now that we are at the end of our historic drought, many folks are thinking “business as usual,” but from our perspective as instructors, this is the very best time to look at some of the issues that we can change without feeling like we are under the gun to HAVE to change.

Enrollment data includes:  Greener Gardens: Sustainable Garden Practice   6/29/2017 — 8/24/2017    BIOLGY    X 498.10   Reg#:  354809  12 mtgs  6:30 to 9:30 PM

Bofe Instructors

Orchid Black & David King

Greener Gardens: Sustainable Garden Practice will start this Tuesday evening, June 21 and run through August 16.  This class is one of the elective classes for the Gardening and Horticulture Certificate Program and the Sustainability Certificate Program.

David and I have taught this course for several years at this point.  We are ever astounded at the quality of our students and their willingness to approach a different way of looking at our everyday life and how our gardens are a point of impact on the world.  Every action we take in our lives aligns our lifestyle with sustainability or not.  What can we change as individuals to minimize our life’s impact and in what way do we compromise?
This is not the definitive course on being sustainable, but it does impact the way we act in out immediate environment and with our food.  This course features more than just a few aha moments!
We meet on the campus of Venice High School – in The Learning Garden.  Please plan on parking on Walgrove or on Venice Blvd and enter through our gate on Walgrove Avenue (the first gate you come to as you proceed south on Walgrove Avenue).  Once in the Garden, venture in and follow the voices!  You can find the syllabus for this term here.
Enrollment data includes:  Greener Gardens: Sustainable Garden Practice   6/21/2016 — 8/16/2016    BIOLGY    X 498.10   Reg#: 266323   Project#: 266-323   12 mtgs  6:30 to 9:30 PM
Mirabilis californica and Artemesia californica

Wishbone Bush, Mirabilis californica, and California Sagebrush, Artemesia californica

Jennifer LaPlante and Steve D’Auria’s Sierra Madre garden will be on the Theodore Payne Garden Tour for the 5th year this Sunday!  The Tour runs from  from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The Theodore Payne Garden Tour features 41 gardens across the Los Angeles area during two days.  This garden is number 36.

This year, the 33 native edible species are featured in the garden, with information about each on a handout.

Here is what TPF wrote about the garden:

“Terraced with local stone, this steep, narrow 12,000 sq. ft. garden, begun early 2011, includes Zen water features, permeable paving and swales amid both formal and woodland plantings. The warm colors of the hardscape create a welcoming atmosphere where people gather and learn about unusual plants local to the San Gabriel Mountains. An abundance of wildlife finds sanctuary here, including cougar and bobcat.”

While a small part of the garden is narrow, the woodland gardens are expansive. The garden  hosts goldfinches, woodpeckers, scrub jays, squirrels, deer, bears and bobcats! It features a wildflower meadow ringed by coast live oaks.

Restoration of the local ecology was an important purpose in creating the garden. It features local native plants and 90% are species local to the area. Many are rare. It features plants such as the Humbolt Lily, Lilium humboldtii, Dudleya lanceolata and D. cymosa, the local Coral Bells, Heuchera caespitosa, and the Soaproot, Chlorogalum pomeridianum.

Four beautiful fountains by Stonemason Bruce Goss evoke the many streams, rivers and seeps of the San Gabriel Mountains.  See his Flickr Gallery, and find more photos on Facebook.

To see beautiful photos of the work in progress by artist/photographer A. Fanto, go to

Ranunculus californica in Sierra Madre Garden 2.jpg

California Buttercup, Blue-eyed Grass, Clustered Field Sedge and Yarrow

Tom Parker, author of the Field Guide to Manzanitas, with Michael Vasey and Michael Kauffmann, will speak at the Southern California Horticultural Society in Glendale tonight, January 14, at 7:30 pm at the Friendship Auditorium.

The title of his talk is So Many Manzanitas, So Many Little Apples, clearly a joke on Tuesday’s LASMM CNPS talk entitled, So Many Manzanitas, So Little Time. Parker is the lead author for the treatment of the genus Arctostaphylos in both the Jepson Manual, 2nd Ed., and the Flora of North America, so he knows his little apples.

The Field Guide contains beautiful photographs from Jeff Bisbee showing details of leaf, berry, inflorescence, hairs and other key characters that help distinguish between species and subspecies. It will be for sale at the talk.

Friendship Auditorium, 3201 Riverside Drive, Los Angeles, CA  90027


tpf salvia

Salvia clevelandii hybrid at the Foundation

I’ll be teaching the Three-Part Design Class at The Theodore Payne Foundation starting this Friday, January 8.

Friday, January, 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Theodore Payne Foundation
10459 Tuxford Street, Sun Valley, CA 91352 (map), 818-768-1802

There are a few openings in this  high demand hard-to-get-into class, but there is a prerequisite of their native horticulture class.
Here’s how TPF describes the class:
“This comprehensive  three-session course for home gardeners offers a sound foundation in design styles and process, the importance of sustainability and how to model a garden after patterns in nature. Students will devise a base/plot plan, implementing knowledge of hardscape materials, irrigation, soils and more. Prior to the class, students will complete a preliminary questionnaire and warm-up exercise for their site. In addition, students are asked to bring photos of their site and a baggie of the site’s soil to the first day of class.”

Theodore Payne classes fill up quickly, so you may want to preregister by calling them  at 818-768-1802.

Here is their Calendar.


It is a beautiful cool morning. Now that the heat has stopped for a few days, it is time to deep water your natives and especially your trees, native or not. Because natives mostly don’t like hot wet feet, it is best to water now before the next heat wave arrives. This helps heat-proof them.

How to deep water natives? If you have irrigation, turn it on before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m. – it’s the law. Watering between 5 a.m. to 9 a.m is the best time. I prefer morning watering as most plants take up water and transpire it during the day. Some desert plants such as Cactus, Sedums and Dudleyas transpire at night through the CAM mechanism, but most – 93% – use water during the day.

Water for at least 20 minutes, and then check the soil moisture.

I know some of you prefer to water at the end of the day after work, and this is ok for the quick watering that rinses dust of the leaves of natives, or to rescue a plant, but it isn’t best for deep watering. Note that some plants will wilt in the hot afternoon and bounce back. Do not water to “rescue” these plants as it can kill them with kindness.

Checking soil moisture: Use an old screwdriver to dig a small hole to a depth of 2”. You can also use a core tool or an inexpensive moisture meter. Check for moisture at the bottom of the hole. If no moisture has reached the bottom of the hole, keep watering. Make a new hole to recheck (I know you know this, but…).

If you don’t have irrigation, an overhead sprinkler that attaches to the hose is fine for natives. Soak everything for at least 20 minutes, then check. Add water if necessary as above. If you have newly planted natives with planting wells or bowls around each plant, fill each bowl at least three times with a hose, then check.

To deep water trees, put a hose closer to the drip line than to the trunk. The drip line is on the ground where the canopy of leaves ends. Set the hose to drip once every second or two. Leave the dripping hose for 1 to 3 hours, depending on the size of the tree. Again, check the moisture 2” down.

“But, but…we’re not supposed to water!” Many water agencies are now trying to get the word out to keep watering the trees, especially if the lawn is allowed to go dry.

I heard noted climate and weather expert Bill Patzert of JPL speak about the drought last year. He pointed out that the current drought is not 3 (now 4) years old, it is 13 (now 14) years old. Because of this, trees are running out of reserve water. This year I’ve gone to many sites where trees are stressed or dying that just need a drink of water. Time to give it to them!

pond med
I am reprising my water talk for Sierra Madre on Friday, April 24 at 7:00 pm at City HallThe next morning, April 25 at 9:30 am, we will be digging some swales at a Sierra Madre residence. The demonstration will only make sense in the light of the talk the night before, so please come to both!

Returning Rain to the Aquifer Beneath Us: Simple Water Infiltration for Sierra Madre

We do get rain in Sierra Madre, and when it comes, we throw most of it into the storm drain. Our wells are running dry, so we’re drinking imported water. Meanwhile, the cost of cleaning up pollution in stormwater is projected to cost the County $120 billion (SGV Tribune), which will be passed onto cities. “It will be millions and millions of dollars for each city…” (Monrovia Mayor Lutz, chairwoman of SGVCoG’s water committee.”
We can do better. This program will show simple ways to detain water on site and infiltrate it back in to the aquifer. Orchid will show examples of swales, earthworks, cisterns and other rainwater harvesting methods that can be used to store water on site, creating a better environment for plants to grow and helping to re-fill our aquifer and our wells.

Talk Location City Hall, Council Chambers
232 W. Sierra Madre Blvd.
Friday, April 24, 7:00 pm
Contact 626-355-7135
Demonstration Location
285 W. Grandview Ave.
Saturday, April 25, 9:30 am