Great to spark interest and/or raise consciousness about green lawns, native plants and bioswales [“Sod Off!” Sept. 15–21].
Bummer there was no mention of the fact that there are nearly 6,000 species plus thousands more cultivars of California native plants that are conducive to creating virtually any style garden imaginable, e.g., cottage/English, Japanese/Zen, bird/butterfly habitat, even a green lawn (with the species you mentioned and more).
Here in Southern California, we have a mix of climates. The L.A. area is mostly composed of chaparral, which consists of medium trees and shrubs, perennials and ephemerals such as wildflowers, and coastal sage scrub, which embodies large coast live oak and other trees, shrubs and flowering perennials and wildflowers — all of which have adapted to our weather patterns over millennia. Los Angeles is actually not a desert.
So, for landscaping purposes, there are myriad choices. One doesn’t need to turn to the ubiquitous olive tree to get its design effect. Simply try Quercus chrysolepis (canyon live oak) or Heteromeles arbutifolia (toyon) or other small native trees and large shrubs for similar looks, with the added benefit of being distinctly Californian.
For other lawn options, try Festuca rubra molate (red fescue). You can seed this magnificent native grass in the cool temperatures of the fall, and it will sprout quickly and provide years of flowy green softness.
For almost every non-native plant, there is a sensible California-native substitute that fosters ecological balance and keeps invasive and potentially invasive species (we never know how a new non-native will behave in this climate, and we’ve had too many surprises in the past that still haunt us, e.g., pampas grass, tree of heaven and fountain grass — refer to the California Invasive Plant Council for more info) from crowding out native plants, destroying habitat and creating fire hazards.
And besides being wise and environmentally sound to garden with California native plants, it’s easy, fun, beautiful and rewarding. They bring birds you’ve never seen before and require no soil amendments or fertilizer, something especially crucial to eliminating urban runoff.
But He Liked Pirates . . .
Scott Foundas asks if critics are needed [“Terror in the Aisles,” Sept. 8–14]. I say, more than ever. If only to spray a bit of misty hope on us parched souls wandering the desert of Hollowland. If only to remind us that we are not going mad, that we really are seeing what we see.
That the mass culture is in a pharmaceutically induced trance, and will do whatever it is told, is true. Care not that the blubbery masses sucking on their half-gallon Cokes and chomping on industrial-size buckets of rancid popcorn want to see the wretched Pirates two, three, four and more. Care not that they refuse to see the gem of a movie you suggest, but instead read from the front page of their newspapers what the five top-grossing movies of the weekend were and then go to them. Forgive them, for they know not what they do.
We are a lazy, fat, drug-addled culture, and any movie worth its salt is by nature the enemy. The adrenal glands of the whole country barely function, destroyed by mass consumption of crap on every level. Sound technicians work around the clock to create new rattle-and-boom techniques to keep this near-comatose mass close to a waking state.
Do it for those of us who are struggling to stay awake, for those of us who dare to say the Emperor has no clothes. And take heart — you have been heard and appreciated more than you might imagine.
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists named Daniel Hernandez the Emerging Journalist of the Year for, in their words, “his distinct cultural take on the people and events of Los Angeles, graced with wonderful writing.”
In gustatory-related news, Jonathan Gold won the Association of Food Journalists award for restaurant criticism in the 150,000-to-350,000-circulation category.