Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

Native Gardens

Yes, Southern California experienced lots of rain this winter and the long drought may be ending, but that does not mean you should keep that water-thirsty lawn in front of your house.

Gibson garden (c) Elisa Leonelli

In 2009, when we started this blog, we were amazed at how many Reynier Village residents had replaced their turf with drought tolerant grasses and native plants in their front yard and parkway.
Many more residents took that step during the past few years, since LADWP (Los Angeles Department of Water and Power) started their cash for grass program in 2009 and raised the rebate amount in 2014. So many people applied that those funds were quickly exhausted, and the Turf Removal Program waitlist was closed in November 2015.

Check SoCal Water $mart for available rebates on sprinkler nozzles, rain barrels, weather based Irrigation controllers, etc. or call 800-506 9073

Gibson garden (c) Elisa Leonelli

To get inspired about the kinds of landscape and plants you may choose to grow in your garden, take a look at the photos of the Theodore Payne Native Plant Garden Tour
Saturday and Sunday April 1 & 2, 10am to 5pm.

Search the LADWP Interactive database: California Friendly Landscaping in Los Angeles

Or take a walk around Reynier Village and see what your neighbors have done.

Gibson parkway (c) Elisa Leonelli

We admired this front yard and parkway on Gibson, so we asked Lauren how she did it.
“The yard used to be all grass. A couple of years ago I applied for the turf removal rebate and was accepted. I spoke to a few landscape artists, but they were asking far more than I was willing to pay, so happily my gardener Ernesto agreed to remove the grass and replace it with California native/drought tolerant plants: Blue Finger, Fire Sticks, Aloe, Aeonium, Variegatum, etc. He did everything himself with his crew, I just gave him the specifications from LADWP’s rebate program (must be CA native, no rocks/gravel, sprinkler-drip system, etc). It really has come in quite nicely this Spring after the recent rains.”

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Freeway Garden

Blue Lupines

This warm sunny morning, only one week away from the beginning of spring, I took a walk from my house to meet up with my neighbor Steven, who wanted to show me the colorful flowers blooming in his freeway garden.  For years now he has been planting a variety of native flowers, such as orange California poppies and blue lupines, inside the fence of the Santa Monica freeway next to his house. In 2003 our local journalist Martha Groves saw him engaged in this labor of love and wrote an article about him for the Los Angeles Times: Splendor blooms on the inhospitable ground next to Santa Monica Freeway.

10 Freeway: Bottlebrush

More often than not in our neighborhood the embankment along the 10 Fwy is littered with beer bottles thrown over the fence or illegally dumped bulky items. Several times during the past few years the dedicated volunteers of the Reynier Village (RVNA) and Helms Neighborhood Associations (Helms NA) have organized community clean-ups of this fenced area that is maintained by Caltrans. Click here to read a post on this blog.

Morning Glory

Steven says: “I hope people realize that, like the L.A. River before it was rediscovered, the freeway borders can be much more than an unused byproduct of a transportation system.  It’s valuable land that most people ignore.”
Take a walk along Regent Street between Cattaraugus and National, bring the kids for  a botany lesson, enjoy the super bloom of our Southern California spring after the heavy rains.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Freeway Garden: Lavatera bi-color

Be water-wise

Autumm Joy Sedum

Autumm Joy Sedum

As you all know, California is experiencing a record drought.
Mandatory reduction measures in water-use are coming soon.

Meanwhile, you can make many water-saving improvements in your home and garden AND get rebates from DWP.
Install high-efficiency toilets and washing machine.
Collect water from gutters in rain barrels.
Replace your turf grass lawn with drought-tolerant landscaping.

For ideas on what plants to choose, visit LADWP’s California Friendly Landscaping

Walk around the Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase
Saturday April 25 from 10am to 4pm

Take a “Be Water-Wise” gardening class online from MWD (The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California)
Visit Descanso Gardens to get inspired by the recently opened Low-Water Beauty showcase, which includes a permeable driveway.

Attend Save Water-Save LA, town hall organized by SORONC Green Team
Sunday May 17: 12 to 3pm, at Castle Height School, 9755 Cattaraugus

Deni Mosser + Elisa Leonelli

Raised garden


Look at what a Reynier Village neighbor did!
Jennifer: “This is the back wall area of my yard, the flooring is kitchen tile and concrete; it was a waste of space, since you can’t grow any plants here.  So I decided to hide the area with a raised garden.  I’m a full time mom with no woodwork experience, so I knew I wasn’t building a raised bed out of wood!  The easiest option for me was to lay down cinder blocks and pour in dirt. Some of my succulents plants have been transplanted here, I also plan on growing an herb garden.”


Please let us know about YOUR garden experiments, email text and photo to:


Jacaranda 2s

Dozens of jacaranda trees have been blossoming in Reynier Village for the past few weeks, their violet purple flowers brightening the neighborhood and blanketing our streets; but they will soon be gone, so you may wish to walk around and enjoy them now!

Although not a native plant (it was first introduced to California in 1892), the jaracanda mimosifolia is beloved in literature by authors writing about by Los Angeles, such as Anais Nin, Raymond Chandler, Joan Didion. Click here for excerpts.
And often mentioned by Los Angeles writers, such as Kate Braverman, who left L.A. for San Francisco, and Eve Babitz, who named Jacaranda the protagonist of her 1979 novel Sex and Rage.

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

Good Karma Gardens

Good Karma 3s

Our good neighbor who grows bananas in his backyard, tipped us off about the Good Karma Gardens (GKG) in Mar Vista. They provide free guidance for people who wish to grow sustainable food in their backyard. Check it out!

Visit over 100 gardens, to learn about drought-tolerant landscapes, edible gardens, rainwater capture and more, during the

5th annual
Mar Vista GREEN GARDEN Showcase
Sunday April 20 from 10am to 4pm

Get inspired to start similar initiatives in Reynier Village.
Please let us know if you volunteer to do this and we’ll help you organize it.


Elisa Leonelli

Garden nurseries

Fuchsia, Veronica, Geranium, Aeonium, Tibouchina

Fuchsia, Veronica, Geranium, Aeonium, Tibouchina

As we were searching for plants to replace the old bamboo and create our new garden, we visited several nurseries. Here’s a list of some we liked.

Rolling Greens in Culver City, 9528 Jefferson Blvd, was the most amazing.  Too expensive for us to buy anything there, but great for looking at gorgeous specimens and get ideas.  You must check out their retail store at 7505 Beverly Blvd, they have beautiful items for your home and garden.
Grow Native in Westwood, 100 Davis Ave, is the perfect place to find drought-tolerant plants native to California.  Call for directions: 424-234 0481.
Two Dog Organic Nursery, 914 Cloverdale, is the perfect place to visit if you wish to start a vegetable garden, and they will give you plenty of expert advice as well.
Hashimoto Nursery, 1953 Sawtelle Blvd, is a traditional Japanese nursery with impeccable plants.
Yamaguchi Bonsai Nursery, 1905 Sawtelle Blvd., has a section devoted to California Natives.
Armstrong Garden Center, 3226 Wilshire in Santa Monica.  They offer gardening classes, and a lifetime guarantee for their fruit trees.

We picked a selection of fruit trees, shrubs and flowers, with the help of Sammy Lyon, permaculture designer and garden educator.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Avocado, white sage, Senetti Blue, geranium

Avocado, white sage, Senetti Blue, geranium

Meyer lemon, geranium, monkeyflower

Meyer lemon, geranium, monkeyflower