Finding beauty in drought-tolerant yards

Plants such as the New Zealand tea tree is an example of the kinds of plants Laguna Beach County Water District and Gallery Q at the Laguna Beach Community & Susi Q Center are promoting during the Art of Conservation event in January.
(Courtesy of Sergio Ramirez)

A local water district and Laguna Beach community center are partnering on a new series of classes and art exhibitions in January and February designed to spotlight the aesthetics of sustainable and waterwise gardens and how to create them.

Dubbed The Art of Conservation, the collaboration between the Laguna Beach County Water District and Laguna Beach Community & Susi Q Center, specifically the center’s Gallery Q program, will include a workshop and lecture from professional oil painter and part-time Laguna Beach resident Gianne de Genevraye as well as displays of student and adult artwork.

Laguna Beach County’s assistant general manager, Christopher Regan, said he heard de Genevraye speak more than a year ago at a Laguna Beach Sister Cities Assn. event and was intrigued with her message.


The nonprofit association maintains ties with Menton, France; San Jose del Cabo, Mexico; and St. Ives, England. The relationships allow for collaboration on cultural, educational and business activities.

The message, Regan said, is “acceptance of drought-tolerant and native California landscapes,” which has taken on heightened focus against the backdrop of the state’s years-long drought.

Despite October and November rains in Northern California, 73% of the state remains in drought conditions, according to a State Water Resources Control Board release issued earlier this week.

Organizers hope that through art, the public will understand that a landscape of sustainable, drought-tolerant plants can be beneficial and attractive.



Plants such as the aeonium kiwi, shown here, and New Zealand tea tree are two examples of the kinds of plants Laguna Beach County Water District and Gallery Q at the Laguna Beach Community & Susi Q Center are promoting during the Art of Conservation event in January.

(Courtesy of Sergio Ramirez)

“Artists are all about beauty,” Regan said. “Let’s get them to notice the beauty of these landscapes. It’s another approach for us to tie into two disciplines that are important to this community.”

De Genevraye, a native Californian who paints and exhibits worldwide, focuses on plants in climates similar to that of Southern California, such as Baja California and the Mediterranean region.

“It’s convincing people to see plants in a new way, so they are inspired to pull out the green lawn and daisies they have to water five days a week,” de Genevraye said by phone from Paris earlier this week. “It’s an awareness message. Every time I come back to Laguna Beach, I see more and more sustainable gardens. People are ripping out their green lawns.”


Professional oil painter Gianne de Genevraye will lead a workshop and lecture on spotlighting sustainable plants in artwork in January during the first Art of Conservation event.

Among the scheduled Art of Conservation activities, most of which will occur at the Susy Q, is a workshop that de Genevraye will lead Jan. 20 on including sustainable plants in paintings and a free lecture she will give Jan. 21 on art and conservation.

Meanwhile, the district and Gallery Q are seeking artwork depicting waterwise gardening from students and adults. Winning contest entries will be displayed at the Susi Q from Jan. 16 through Feb. 24.

Gallery Q, a public exhibition space within the Susi Q, at 380 Third St. in Laguna Beach, hosts five to six shows per year featuring semi-professional and professional artists of all ages from Orange County.


“We are excited to partner with the water district and highlight waterwise gardens in art in this time of drought,” Laurie Smith, Gallery Q arts director, said in a statement.

For more information, including the cost, times and locations for workshops and lectures, visit

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