L.A. Arboretum to open sustainable garden for festival


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Considering all the attention that backyard chicken coops and edible landscapes have gotten, homeowners have few public places to see these ideas in practice. The newly redesigned Garden for All Seasons, under construction this week and scheduled to open for this weekend’s Grow! festival at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Arcadia, was conceived for just that purpose.

The Garden for All Seasons is a demonstration site for sustainable living practices. Visitors walk through a landscape dotted with fruit-producing trees from around the world, past a pond fed with rainwater collected on-site and through to a netted enclosure housing raised vegetable beds, a worm farm, compost bins and a chicken coop. (That’s a Brazilian grape tree, top; Japanese plum tree, upper right; and flowering pomegranate tree, lower right.)


“We wanted homeowners to feel they could adapt it and make it their own,” said Amy Korn, who designed the space with her partner, Matt Randolph, of the landscape architecture firm kornrandolph in Pasadena. Even a pond fed with water from a cistern is meant to be inspiration, she said. “Maybe it’s not this grand thing, but the idea that collection and circulation is something they can do as well.”

An 8-foot-wide concrete walkway shuttles water to paver stones, sand, a gravel trench and a system of underground pipes that collect and recirculate the water using pumps that are meant to eventually run off solar power. The pond is planted with edibles that serve a secondary purpose: keeping the water clean.

Workers were busy constructing the new Garden for All Seasons earlier this week in Arcadia. The Garden for All Seasons has been a part of the arboretum since 1972, when it was founded by volunteers ‘to grow vegetables and have a demonstration for visiting school groups,” said Richard Schulhof, chief executive of the arboretum. The redesign came after community surveys revealed interest not only in food gardening but also in rain catchment and water conservation.

In its new incarnation, the garden’s plant care will be provided by 300 volunteers, and the fruits of their labors will be experienced by the 16,000 schoolchildren who visit it each year.

As befits an arboretum, trees play a starring role. Dozens of fruit-bearing varieties are planted in two distinct microclimates. The southern end is dotted with more traditional fruits such as apples, peaches and pears; the warmer northern end will be used to grow more exotic, tropical trees such as banana and mango.

“The San Gabriel Valley probably has the most diverse growing climate in all of North America. We have an amazing ability to grow a diversity of plant material here,” said Arboretum Supt. Timothy Phillips, above right. “There are so many different cultures and communities within this area that we wanted to be able to show all the different plants that people may have grown up with in whatever land they came from.”


-- Susan Carpenter


What: The Garden for All Seasons, premiering as part of Grow! garden festival. The event features garden talks and demonstrations, a plant and garden accessory marketplace, hands-on children’s activities and exhibits of local sculptors.

When: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, 301 N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia

Cost: $8 general admission, $6 for seniors and full-time students, $3 for children ages 5 to 12.

The Garden for All Seasons will showcase chickens, but yes, the arboretum’s peacocks will still be around.

Corrected: An earlier version of this post quoted Richard Schulhof, the arboretum’s chief executive, as saying the Garden for All Seasons was established in the 1960s and was a spontaneous effort. It was established in 1972 and was planned.


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