Volunteers spruce up library garden

About a dozen local volunteers turned out Saturday with gardening tools in hand when Form LA landscaping company, in conjunction with La Cañada Valley Beautiful, hosted a garden maintenance day at the La Cañada Library’s demonstration garden.

The volunteers pruned back overgrown yarrow and sage. Cassy Aoyagi, co-owner of Form LA, told the workers that the concept of pruning is to cut damaged, diseased or dead wood from a plant, something she calls following the 3Ds. Doing so encourages the plant to allocate energy to re-flowering or keeping its foliage lush and robust.

Three years ago, the non-profit La Cañada Valley Beautiful contracted Form LA to design a garden at the Oakwood Avenue library that could demonstrate the form and function of drought-resistant and California-native plants in a landscape. The library’s gardens are planned in five distinct zones, each representing native landscapes found in Southern California, Australia, Chile, the Mediterranean basin and South Africa.

Although each geographic place represented in the gardens are different from one another, they all fall within the 35-45 longitude on the globe, so they share similar temperate-desert, arid climates, said Aoyagi.

After a years-long drought and a decrease in snow pack, the state, along with several Southern California cities, implemented water conservation guidelines that often affect how much people can water their yards.

“I came out today because I’m concerned about the water table, and I have a large backyard full of grass. I’m tempted to go with native plants, but I want to know if they are high maintenance, and how to maintain a native garden,” said volunteer Nalini Lasiewicz.

The California garden area at the library is abundant with lavender, pink and rust-colored yarrow, California lilacs, verbena and a native oak tree. All are plants that thrive without much watering and therefore represent a better option in landscaping than a water-thirsty lawn.

La Cañada Valley Beautiful is a non-profit organization that plants and maintains public spaces in the city. The Metropolitan Water District granted the organization money to buy plant markers that identify the different plants in the garden to help educate visitors.

“We’re desperately trying to raise money for a display sign so people know what this garden is about,” said Linda Fults, La Cañada Valley Beautiful member.

Only three of the five gardens have been installed, though plans to plant the Chilean and South African gardens are in the works. For now, visitors can enjoy the California garden, the Mediterranean garden complete with an olive tree, and the Australian garden featuring a large eucalyptus tree in its design.

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