6th Annual Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase

The 6th Annual Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase is Saturday, April 26 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. This Earth Day celebration, presented by the Mar Vista Community Council, provides useful information and inspiration for transforming your garden. 

This year there are fewer gardens, located in one of six walkable/bike-able clusters, so you'll be able to visit all or most of them. Each garden has one or more of the following sustainability features: California native/drought tolerant plantings, edibles or water catchment systems. Visitors can talk with and meet landscapers as well as do-it-yourself gardeners who share knowledge and experience. Special guest presenters at many gardens will enhance your knowledge of sustainability in daily living. 

The Wildside School Garden Tour coincides with the Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase and many local schools are dual participants. Stop by and learn how the school gardens contribute to a more sustainable future. You'll probably pick up some gardening tips as well!

The Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase seeks to empower Angelenos to adopt environmentally conscious living solutions. With many people walking or biking their tours, there is a tremendous sense of community as garden enthusiasts from throughout Southern California join our neighbors to celebrate our shared vision for a greener life.

Mar Vista can make a difference!
For more information please email gardens@marvista.org
Media is welcome.

4119 Inglewood Boulevard - Cluster 6

Pool conversion from hazard to haven

Click here for audio description of this garden.

This garden is hidden behind a fence, the third house down a long 5-home driveway that extends west from Inglewood Boulevard. If you see a fsmall sign on the corner of a garage with several addresses on it, you've found the driveway. It's we'll worth the search! Although there are many apartment buildings nearby, you'll feel you've entered a secluded canyon.

The homeowners filled in an empty swimming pool with 11 large dumptrucks of dirt. The plan was to plant sod. But one of the owners had fallen in love with succulents. When the pool was filled, she saw it and said, "NO! This is my new succulent garden!"

Bit by bit it has grown into a fascinating and lush succulent garden! Over 200 varieties of of succulents now thrive where the empty pool once sat. A bench beckons you to sit and enjoy the many colors and shapes.

The owner's love affair with succulents continues. Pots display many, many other varieties, and the collection continues to grow. Come share this owner's delight! And be sure to ask how this hidden enclave came to exist.

The Sunset Succulent Society is a guest presenter at this garden. Bring your questions!

3201 Butler Avenue - Cluster 2

Edibles…lots of them…growing in the front yard

Click here for audio description of this garden.

For years the owners grew tomatoes, strawberries and a few things like that on a narrow strip on the southeastern side of the house next to the neighbor's driveway.

New neighbors built a fence cutting off vegetable garden’s light. The children, now older, no longer used the grassy area in the front yard for play. it was time for a change. The backyard doesn't get as much sun as the front, so the owners determined the front yard was the place to site the new vegetable garden.

The Westdale soil, as all gardeners there know, is terrible. Rather than trying to amend it to something less than terrible, the owner decided to construct raised beds. Using stacking joints manufactured by frameitall, they
were dead-easy to put together. The first year's produce, in 2011, justified the decision. The owners have grown onions and garlic and potatos and carrots and beans and snow peas and lettuce and cucumbers and tomatos and zuchinni and pumpkins and corn and parsnips and a load of herbs.

Solar-powered fountain

Walla Walla onions, cut thick and grilled on the barbecue, became a favorite summer food. The owners just finished the last of their onions in January, having been self-sufficient since June.

The surprising side benefit growing edibles in the front yard is the social aspect. The owners have met more people in the neighborhood than ever before. They stop by on the weekends to see what's going on…sometimes leaving with some excess zuchinni!

This is still a work-in-progress. New for this year are a solar powered fountain and espaliered apple trees. The unwatered grass is dying but not gone. The owners are adding more planters and then will put in low-water natives and stepping stones to create a more pleasing look. Right now, the owner/chief gardener has more vision than time!

11928 Palms Blvd. - Cluster 3

The owner/landscape architect will be at this beautiful meadow garden. Volunteers from Surfrider Foundation's Ocean Friendly Gardens will also be available to talk with visitors about how to create an Ocean Friendly Garden of their own. 

Click here for audio description of this garden.

In early 2011, the homeowners replaced the lawn with a meadow comprised mostly of native plants and grasses.  They were inspired by "American Meadow" designs by John Greenlee and wanted to create a natural-looking, water-wise ecosystem that incorporated the three principles of an Ocean Friendly Garden: conservation, permeability and retention. They kept existing mature Camellias and trees and planted a variety of California native and climate appropriate grasses, bulbs, ferns and flowering perennials that thrive in clay soil, provide wildlife habitat and bloom at various times during the year.

A swale in the front yard is the main attraction with its colorful Iris, Coral Bells, and Meadow Foam blooms. Wildlife activity has noticeably increased since the meadow installation, not only in terms of birds, lizards, insects, spiders, but also under the surface, as earthworm populations have grown thanks to a heavy layer of mulch that suppresses weeds and feeds the soil biology. Maintenance needs are minimal, involving monthly weeding, quarterly applications of compost tea and semiannual pruning, so we have time to relax and enjoy the garden. No use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, blowers, mowers or weed whackers is needed; the garden thrives on its own and provides a healthy and attractive environment.
All photos by Tom Rau, Landscape Architect
Irrigation consists of both drip irrigation and mini rotators with a "smart" controller that schedules watering times based upon real-time weather information. This has resulted in significant water savings compared to the former lawn. Other site features to retain water include a decomposed granite center strip in the driveway, two infiltration pits in the back yard, and rain barrels.

Landscape architect Tom Rau will be present. Karen Stern of rk Landscape performs semi-annual speciality maintenance. 


2571 Armacost Avenue - Cluster 1

Click here for audio description of this garden.

The color and design of loose stones and rocks, the curves of the landscape and the fountain make this a special garden. Larger boulders and sitting rocks give the garden a relaxing, Zen feeling.

Re-landscaping of the front and side yards began in November 2009, with a goal of replacing all the grass with a rock-based hardscape and drought resistant garden. Their neighbor across the street (see 2564 Armacost), owner of Rose in Bloom, is the landscaper.

An attractive line of lavender and New Zealand fax and loose gravel replaces the ugly, usually dead grass that “grew” next to the driveway.

Many butterflies and hummingbirds frequent the garden. Birds love the fountains. The garden also attracts small children who like to play with the stones.

An automatic sprinkler system waters the plants twice weekly using a minimal amount of water. The house has solar panels. Two barrels collect rainwater in the back yard and the owners use an area behind the garage for composting.

The owners removed most of the lawn in the backyard—retaining a small patch for the dog—and added a dry riverbed in 2005. 

11430 Kingsland St - Cluster 2

Click here for audio description of this garden.

This large garden reflects the owners' growing awareness of the components of sustainable gardens and importance of California native plants - as well as a love of home grown edibles. The Main Gardener is a Green Garden Showcase organizer. 

The garden has evolved over many years and, like an archaeological dig, contains many layers. Camellias planted when this 1948 house was new still bloom profusely. The owners’ green journey began in 2002 with the garden's first ever landscape design (by Linda Endler). This effort removed the lawn, added many trees and defined the basic shape of the garden with DG and broken concrete pathways. When the front yard lawn cover failed, the owners spread redwood chips instead and turned off some sprinkler heads. 

In March, 2010, Gary Kamisher of Gary's Greenery installed drip irrigation, planted the "lawn" area and updated the parkways, using many of his favorite Australian and California natives as well as other eco friendly plants. Old mingled with new in a wonderful mélange.

In 2012 the homeowners added four raised beds for edibles, bringing the total to six beds and 140 square feet. Christy Wilhelmi of Gardenerd provided a 2014 spring planting plan.

Darla Murray Design is completing a major garden refresh just in time for the Showcase. The owners presented Darla with the following goals: make the garden more drought tolerant, favoring California native plants, and easier to maintain; tame the parkways (the Santa Barbara daisies and an invasive geranium were beautiful but out of control); reduce overcrowding. The result is stunning! 

Darla added many new California natives and enhanced the walkways. Some plants were relocated; others found new homes in other people's gardens. The owners especially love the addition of a dry stream bed. There is so much to look at in this garden!

Darla Murray will be at the garden to answer your questions. Guest presenter RepowerLA will have information about free home and business energy upgrades available from LADWP. Printed tour maps will be available.

In addition to the garden, visitors can see several energy upgrades: a tankless 
water heater, solar panels (installed by Constant Solar in 2010) and a recently installed EV charger for which the homeowner received a $2000 rebate. A new weather-base irrigation controller qualifies for a $200 rebate from DWP. 

3664 Boise Avenue - Cluster 4

Click here for audio description of this garden.

One of the garden owners always loved gardening and dreamed of having her own yard to transform. That opportunity presented itself when her family moved into their new house in the fall of 2012. After making the house livable, she set to work on their yard. They considered hiring a landscape designer but, after giving it some thought, decided that it was a project they could manage on their own. As an artist, she has a keen sense of design and style, and loves a good challenge.

Her mission: create a beautiful, drought tolerant, semi-private sanctuary for both her family and wildlife—especially honey bees, for which she has an inordinate fondness.

The first order of business was to build a wall so to create separation from the street and then level the yard. Work on the wall began in December 2012 but, with all the rain we had last winter (remember that!) it wasn’t finished until the end of January.

She spent that winter researching plants and designing the layout. They wanted border plants that would parallel the sidewalk to provide some privacy and flowering drought tolerant plants along the driveway, leaving the center of the yard for raised vegetable beds and a lounge area for relaxing and entertaining.

By the end of February, 2012, she completed an organic gardening course at SMC Community Education taught by Christy Wilhelmi and was ready to begin planting. 

For the front border they planted non-fruit bearing olive trees and native sage (Salvia apiana), with Acacia Redols along
the driveway. In the center they built four raised vegetable beds and used decomposed granite as the surrounding ground cover. They installed a basalt fountain that would be easy for the bees and birds to drink from.

They had drip irrigation installed in the upper yard but decided to choose very hardy plants that would need minimal hand watering in front of the wall and in the parking strip.

In front of the wall she chose Lantana and lavender both for their hardy, drought tolerance and because they are a favorite of both bees and butterflies.

In the parking strip she did some experimenting and had mixed success. Lavender, rosemary, butterfly bush, bees bliss sage, pincushion flowers and purple cone flower are a few of the plants she’s tried. She considers this experimental garden area and will continue to try new plants. she’ll will add some edibles this spring. Since there is no irrigation in this area she waters exclusively by hand. Over the past winter she’s only needed to water monthly.

Finally by May the vegetables were planted and much to her delight within six weeks they were flourishing beyond her wildest dreams.

The front yard is an enchanting haven for both the family and a diverse variety of wildlife. It provided them with a bounty of organic vegetables all summer and well into the fall. In 2013 she planted a winter garden. The family is enjoying the abundance Southern California affords a gardener! They are filled with gratitude.

Christy Wilhelmi, an edible garden expert and owner of Gardenerd, will be at the garden and copies of her new book, Gardening for Geeks, will be available. Printed tour maps will also be available.