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Most Memorable Moment

memorable moments

The vernal pool plants germinated and fairy shrimp hatched in our vernal pool.

Removing all concrete and invasive grass from front and back yards.

The sloped back yard offers a nice lookout to colorful sunsets in the hills across Ascot Hills Park. During the summer, parties in the neighborhood offer a lively soundtrack while we work in the yard. And on July 4, a spectacular display of fireworks appears across the night sky, like it or not.

Watching my wife, Olivia, sketch her first California native, Calliandra californica

In 2015 we partnered with the Sacred Place Institute for Indigenous Peoples to add some history of the Gabrieliño/Tongva people. This moment was the beginning of our journey to prioritize indigenous voices and experiences in our garden. The features and educational signage in our garden were created and designed by indigenous people.

Coming back the first spring after planting the hillside, standing amid the forthcoming wild-ness. Seeing the Monardella start to run wild, the deergrass and Leymus start to cascade over pathways, the edges fading, the hillside buzzing with pollinators, the smell of pitcher sage.

Watching an immature red-shouldered hawk make a failed hunting attempt at our bird feeder, and then to find a bounty of bugs in the leaf-litter beneath the Abutilon palmeri. Eighty percent of all birds of prey don’t make it to adulthood. Aerial hunting is hard. “Red” found a steady workaround.

LA Native Plant Source

The first time I discovered a humboldt lily blooming after starting it from seed four years earlier, happening upon a single flower with its orange petals and flamboyant maroon spots was like seeing an apparition. Every spring since then, when the first humboldt lily blooms, it still seems otherworldly.

9. When I was in labor with my first baby, we were in the garden and in a quiet magical moment, while I was listening to the birds singing and feeling the vitality and fertility of the garden, a gentle June rain shower sprinkled down on us.

Our Englemann oak (in a 5-gallon pot) seemed to die a few months after planting. Yet six months later it sprouted new branches from beneath the soil. When we saw that it was still alive we began to trust the unseen mechanisms of plants and soil in a new way.

In the early days of the garden, after covering the site with mulch, we started to notice fungi, or as I like to say, “fun guys” popping up everywhere. They came in all shapes, colors and sizes. They were irrefutable evidence that the soil was coming alive!!! (Mayita Dinos, Designer)

My most memorable moments in this garden have been sightings of Audubon warblers and ruby-crowned kinglets in the Dr. Hurd and Channel Islands ironwood. A close second are the native bees on the manzanita blossoms.

Two memorable moments in our garden included insect visitors. One spring, we played host to dozens of ladybug pupae going through their metamorphoses on our art installation. We also had a visit by a tarantula hawk wasp checking out our Asclepias subulata.

We’ve enjoyed countless spectacular sunsets in our front garden, every one of them memorable in its own way.

We love to sit, taking in the fragrance from the surrounding foliage, watching the teeming wildlife dip into the nectar and take on the pollen of flowers, fluttering to the water or foraging for seeds and insects on the ground and in the branches of shrubs and trees. We feel one with nature.

Watching a juvenile red-tailed hawk taking a shower under the spout of my Japanese fountain. He came back for several years but I haven’t seen him in a while.

During the poppy bloom, a little girl, maybe four years old, stopped in her tracks, mouth open, staring at the carpet of orange flowers. She made her mom bring her back every day for a week. She’d stand and smile.

When I stood in the street and looked at the garden, I was struck by how beautifully an arching branch of the palo verde tree in full bloom framed a portion of the garden in a way that only nature can do. It was a stunning image and one of those moments that makes gardening so rewarding.

The axial pathway that bisects a grassy meadow garden, flanked by hügelkultur berms and a waterfall pond to the west, changes dramatically throughout the year. The subtle shifts from cool-season to warm-season grasses, annuals, perennial color and varying blooms, month to month, make this the most memorable area in the garden.

The most memorable moment came when it dawned on me that the garden had completely surpassed my original intentions: to conserve water and attract native birds. It had become a platform for environmental nonprofits to work together and get their messages heard. The garden was on the inaugural TPF garden tour and Huell Howser visited to film a segment for his “California’s Green” series on PBS. That was pretty memorable.

Deep in the back yard, in the wildest part of the garden, it looks, feels, and smells like you’re in the chaparral.

Water features anchor the garden: a naturalistic creek and pond features, a formal koi pond, a pool. Also a bee hive.

Westwood Greenway is the product of decades of work by many advocates, but we've only been in our substantially completed state since October 2020. Seeing wildlife and native plants reappear has been inspirational. Come help us make memories!

Feeling connected to the ancestors

A sudden whoosh of wings as we walked past the orange tree where a mockingbird family had nested: The dad was divebombing us. We ran past with a cardboard lid for head protection. As soon as the chicks fledged (about two weeks), the divebombing stopped.

The morning of the meadow’s grand opening we came early. The light was still golden. It was slightly hazy, already warm. As the temperature rose, a mist seemed to form above the expansive new mulch. Something was floating… mist? No! A multitude of nearly translucent crane flies fluttered up, scattered, and were gone.

Our house is in a dense urban neighborhood. Once upon a time there were so many gardens in Venice that we had our own tour, the Venice Garden Tour. Now many of the gardens have disappeared due to the densification and gentrification of this area. We hope to make our home an island of nature in a sea of apartments and McMansions. So when I saw a Cooper’s hawk chasing a dozen mourning doves around my yard, I was thrilled. We have also hosted: black-headed grosbeaks, white-crowned sparrows, Cassin’s kingbird, song sparrows, towhees, goldfinches, bushtits, and juncos. In addition, my two big dogs, Captain Cookie and Little Beast.

The first time I observed an iridescent tarantula hawk wasp visit the garden and pollinate the Asclepias subulata.

Native milkweed allowed our garden to attract a vibrant population of monarch butterflies during the fall migration season. This was not without challenges brought by a healthy lizard population and curious dogs—Ruth Barker and Koda Bear. Loving care enabled them to evolve from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly.

Our most memorable events over the past few years have to be hosting Coastal Cleanup Day at the Dunes. We’ve partnered with LAWA since 2015 and the neighboring communities help us restore the local dune habitat as part of a fantastic global event.

We have so many memorable moments together, DIYing our garden from the bare dirt patch it once was to the lush, verdant space it is now. Since completing the garden, we’ve held too many parties to count and enjoy continually making memories with families and friends in our garden.

Most memorable moment was the first sighting of a monarch chrysalis hanging down from the top edge of a rain barrel located in the garden. The experience made the perfect introduction for my garden presentation that was scheduled that morning.

The installation: the act of removing the lawn and replacing it with three tons of builders’ sand as a planting medium resulted in dramatic change. The initial shared process of creating the garden with my friend Kevin, starting fresh with over 100 tiny 1-gallon plants and sowing the matrix gave me the feeling of infinite possibilities. You have no idea what the garden will look like but have this ideal vision in the back of your head. Each time something grows, that mental projection changes closer to what the garden actually becomes.

In the winter of 2016/2017, a community of volunteer organizations (National Park Service, Audubon Center at Debs, North East Trees, Latino Outdoors, Los Angeles Conservation Corps, California State Parks Foundation, and newly formed Promotorx) came together to plant our wetlands area with deergrass, golden brush, arroyo willows, and juncus. This created a wonderful habitat that hosts many bird species, coyotes, and skunks, giving visitors the opportunity to imagine their city as an alluvial floodplain.