‘Power of Plants’ talk kicks off native planting effort at Lanterman House

La Cañada’s Lanterman House will host a free lecture, "The Power of Plants: Growing a Sustainable Future," Sunday from 2 to 3 p.m. The talk is a joint effort between the historic house and the Theodore Payne Foundation that will culminate with the installation of a small native plant garden in November.
(File Photo)

La Cañada’s Lanterman House strives to tell the story of the city’s founding family, preserving a rich historical archive and showcasing items belonging to Roy and Emily Lanterman, and their sons, Frank and Lloyd, in a lovingly restored 1915 mansion.

But, starting with a special lecture Sunday, attention will shift to the grounds of the historic house as Erin Johnson of the Theodore Payne Foundation discusses the beauty and ecological benefits of planting California native plants and wildflowers in a free lecture, “The Power of Plants: Growing a Sustainable Future.”

From 2 to 3 p.m. Johnson will speak on the diversity of California’s native flora and how such species conserve water and transform urban spaces into thriving habitats that support local birds, butterflies and other pollinators.

“Often what people imagining native landscapes are like are different from what they’re actually like,” Johnson said, conjuring images of cactus plants amid rock gardens. “They don’t realize they can create a lush and beautiful landscape.”

Those who attend Sunday’s lecture will receive free native seed packets containing a blend of poppy and chia seeds that will let them experiment at their own homes.

Lanterman House is teaming up with the nonprofit Theodore Payne Foundation to design and install a small native garden at the historic house that will pay tribute to the plants and wildflowers a young Roy Lanterman would have seen upon his arrival to the Crescenta Valley in 1875.

“We have an unused area of our garden that we thought would be nice to turn into a display, and the Theodore Payne Foundation was happy to help,” said Laura Verlaque, executive director at Lanterman House.

Taking advantage of optimal planting season, the garden will be installed during a community work day planned for Nov. 23 at 9:30 a.m. Volunteers from the community will be needed to help plant native species in accordance with a planting map created by Johnson and her Theodore Payne colleagues.

Volunteers of all ages will be welcome, so long as youth 14 and under are accompanied by an adult.

“We really, really want to encourage anyone who’s interested to come back and get their hands dirty and have an opportunity to think about what (native plants) they might have space for at home,” Johnson said.

Lanterman House is located at 4420 Encinas Drive, La Cañada. For more information, visit or call (818) 790-1421.

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