A FRESH START

When a Bev­er­ly­wood cou­ple trades a grassy yard for a low-wa­ter oa­sis, the land­scape comes to life with but­ter­flies, veg­eta­bles and cu­ri­ous neigh­bors.

Los Angeles Times - - SATURDAY - BY LISA BOONE lisa.boone@la­times.com Twit­ter: lis­a­boone19

The cou­ple worked with gar­den­ing con­sul­tant Christy Wil­helmi, whom they met at last year’s Mar Vista Green Gar­den Show­case tour, to tear out the 3,000-square-foot lawn in Oc­to­ber and re­place it with drought-tol­er­ant plants, wa­ter-con­serv­ing Cal­i­for­nia na­tives and edi­bles.

They also added a bioswale to col­lect wa­ter from one of four new rain bar­rels, which they said fill eas­ily with­out con­sis­tent rain­fall. Their ef­forts earned them a turf re­moval re­bate from the Los An­ge­les Depart­ment of Wa­ter and Power, which at the time was $2 a square foot.

The new land­scape on the dra­matic cor­ner lot fea­tures raised veg­etable beds con­ve­niently lo­cated a short walk from the front door, framed by low-wa­ter rock-roses and paths that al­low easy ac­cess for har­vest­ing food. Ac­cented by a minia­ture, house-shaped book-lend­ing li­brary, the 3,000square-foot gar­den stands out amid streets that are lined with neatly man­i­cured lawns.

What the Glasers didn’t ex­pect was the over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive re­sponse they have re­ceived from neigh­bors, many of whom they didn’t know be­fore they planted the con­ver­sa­tion­start­ing gar­den.

“Peo­ple al­ways stop and com­ment on how pretty it looks,” Linda Glaser said. “It’s hard not to come out and talk to peo­ple. Peo­ple knock on our door and ask us for car­rots.”

The com­ments are un­der­stand­able. The col­or­ful gar­den has the ro­man­tic feel­ing of an English gar­den, with its pur­ple Mex­i­can daisies and sea laven­der, or­ange lantana, yel­low yar­row and core­op­sis and pink rock-roses. The cou­ple kept sev­eral ma­ture trees, in­clud­ing a pecan from which their daugh­ter’s swing still hangs for neigh­bor­hood kids to use. They paved the area un­der­neath the pecan with per­me­able de­com­posed gravel.

Rose­mary and laven­der add a sweet aroma. Bees are drawn to the lilac ver­bena, while Cleve­land sage, pen­ste­mon and aga­pan­thus at­tract but­ter­flies and birds. In a hope­ful move, Wil­helmi planted four na­tive milk­weed plants to cre­ate a haven for monarch but­ter­flies and a food source for their cater­pil­lar stage.

“There is so much life in this gar­den,” Wil­helmi said as she in­spected the milk­weed. “At one point we counted 30 cater­pil­lars.”

Two large raised veg­etable beds, which the Glasers hand wa­ter, are burst­ing with beets, let­tuces, gar­lic, Swiss chard, car­rots and toma­toes. In the side yard, Wil­helmi cre­ated a small fruit or­chard stocked with or­anges, lemons and limes, and blue­ber­ries grow in a bar­rel. “I have not pur­chased let­tuce since Oc­to­ber,” Linda said.

Be­cause it is a new gar­den, the Glasers cur­rently wa­ter three times a week for 10 min­utes each time with a drip ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem. Once the plants are firmly es­tab­lished, Wil­helmi pre­dicts they will need to wa­ter only once a week.

We all know that low-wa­ter gar­dens are an en­vi­ron­men­tally sound choice for Cal­i­for­nia given cur­rent drought con­di­tions. But can a gar­den move be­yond merely sav­ing wa­ter and into com­mu­nity build­ing?

The Glasers clearly think so. “Per­haps peo­ple will get used to this look,” Jef­frey Glaser said. “And over time they will come to think of lawns as ridicu­lous. There’s just no rea­son to have a lawn any­more.”

Francine Orr Los An­ge­les Times

LINDA GLASER

and her hus­band, Jef­frey, worked with gar­den­ing con­sul­tant Christy Wil­helmi to con­vert their front­yard into a wa­ter-con­serv­ing land­scape.

Pho­to­graphs by Francine Orr Los An­ge­les Times

LINDA GLASER checks on the bounty that is her and hus­band Jef­frey’s front­yard. “I have not pur­chased let­tuce since Oc­to­ber,” she says.

A BOOK-LEND­ING li­brary stands out in the Glasers’ 3,000-square­foot gar­den, which in­cludes na­tive and other plants and veg­etable beds.

SEA LAVEN­DER adds a col­or­ful el­e­ment to the lawn, which was cre­ated with the help of gar­den­ing con­sul­tant Christy Wil­helmi.

FRESH BEETS are ready for the kitchen. “Peo­ple knock on our door and ask us for car­rots,” Linda Glaser says.

THE NEW GAR­DEN land­scape in­cludes a rocky bioswale, which col­lects wa­ter from one of four new rain bar­rels.

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