7th Annual Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase

The 7th Annual Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase will be Saturday, April 25, 2015. This Earth Day celebration, presented by the Mar Vista Community Council, 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

Click here to see a map of the areas we'll feature in the 2015 Showcase. We're looking for potential garden clusters now. Eligible gardens should have one or more of the following sustainability features: California native/drought tolerant plantings, edibles or water catchment systems. This is a curated show. The deadline for garden submittal is February 1, 2015.

Do you have gardens to recommend or questions about eligibility? Would you like to be on the Green Garden Showcase email list? Contact us at gardens@marvista.org. 

Did you miss the 2014 tour, or some of the gardens on it? Click here to display a Green Garden Showcase map, then follow the directions to create your own personal tour map. PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL OF GARDEN OWNERS’ PROPERTY. View gardens from the sidewalk unless invited in. Don’t pick anything!

The Mar Vista community has an ongoing commitment to encouraging sustainability in all aspects of life. The Green Tent at the Mar Vista Farmers' Market hosts a different eco-presenter each Sunday. Every 2nd Sunday, a Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase committee member is also there. Every 4th Sunday, UCCE Master Gardeners visit The Green Tent with seeds, seedlings and advice. 

3545 Redwood Avenue - Cluster 5

This almost three year old, now predominately California natives, garden was once just a wide stretch of grassy yard with no trees and some shrubs. 

Click here for audio description of this garden.

The homeowners were inspired to transform this yard after learning about and receiving a stipend from the LADWP lawn conversion program in 2011. Once the lawn was gone, the garden could begin to reflect the goals they had begun to develop for a native garden: habitat friendly, drought tolerant, seasonal colors, and scent everywhere! Also, they wanted to create an outdoor “living space” where one could sit, relax, enjoy the sounds of a gentle fountain, or the flutter and buzz of birds, butterflies and bees; to experience privacy without a fence or walls, under a canopy of leaves. 

The process began with lots of trial and error! They spent many weekends traveling to and exploring options at native plant nurseries across Southern California, attending workshops and classes, reading and researching. Figuring out what plants work best in which area of the garden continues to be a challenging and rewarding experience, and there is still much design work ahead for this young garden. In 2013 they added edibles (and the challenges of balancing the plants' water needs) as well as a newly planted parkway.

Some of their favorite garden features are the winding rock path, the fountain and the front wooden deck – shaded by a very large and old Caribbean Copper Tree – that serves as a respite from the sun and a perch from which to observe the variety of milkweed, Ceanothus, the stately dogwood, several redbuds, hummingbird sages, currants, buckwheat and the newest addition, an elderberry tree seedling. 

As the garden develops, changes, and matures they look forward to the possibilities a native garden provides.

12934 McCune Avenue - Cluster 5

Look at this harvest!

Click here for audio description of this garden.

This garden is an ever evolving backyard refuge of vegetables and flowers. To the owners, it feels like their own patch of wilderness complete with birds, bees and butterflies. 

Their plants and gardens are all organic and geared almost entirely to food production. They use soil that was already there and add in compost from their worms and compost bins.  

They strive for efficiency with drip irrigation, keep things sustainable by composting and repurposing materials into garden structures and eat healthy all year round.

3348 Keeshen Drive - Cluster 3

Click here for audio description of this garden.

The vision was create a low maintenance, low water garden. These homeowners also wanted to use native plants and succulents. They turned to Larry Hess of Bloom Landscaping for garden/landscape design.

The low maintenance grass alternative used in some areas requires very little water. A slate walk path to the front porch, plus a slate porch off the South side of the house that drops down to another slate area are perfect spots for enjoying the garden. 

The garden is full of bees and butterflies. They also get many hummingbirds throughout the year. By April the garden will full be in full bloom for the showcase. 

Printed tour maps will be available at this garden.

3930 Keeshen Drive - Cluster 6

Click here for audio description of this garden.

The homeowners put in the garden in 1996, with a strong desire never to water or mow a lawn ever again. The work was all done by them, from digging out the grass to planting everything. Reclaimed concrete taken from the driveway along the side of the house was used for the pathway.

The garden is home to succulents, cacti, bougainvilla, salvia, dusty miller, lavender, lamb's ear, fortnight lillies, yucca, ice plant, agave, statice, giant bird of paradise, and herbs like rosemary, oregano and mint. It's also home to butterflies, moths, bees, and lots of birds, including hummingbirds.

The garden is never watered, except by rain and the water that they collect in their rain barrel!

2554 Federal Avenue - Cluster 1

Click here for audio description of this garden.

This unique garden is primarily edible. It is truly a reflection of today’s economy, demonstrating that with the onset of inflation and "tough times" we can be more reliant on our very own Victory Gardens. The owner enjoys eating fresh and unique produce plucked from the garden.

This is a do-it-yourself project. Edibles grow within and around raised beds. Repurposed metal buckets set in the ground serve as containers for herbs. A larger metal bucket filled with gravel directs water from the rain chain into the ground.

Since it is in the front yard, the garden is a resource for sharing. Often when a neighbor walks by or shows interest in the garden, the owner plucks a sprig of rosemary or shares a vegetable. With sharing becoming more scarce, the owner feels this garden is a vehicle for people to re-connect and share.

Printed tour maps will be available at this garden.

3241 Granville Avenue - Cluster 3

Click here for audio description of this garden.

This large corner garden includes not only the front yard on Granville, but the side yard and parkway around the corner on Rose. Happily wild, it features a variety of drought-tolerant native and non-native plants. Abundant Westringia fruticosa (coast rosemary) planted throughout the garden and sprinklings of self-seeding Euphorbia characias give it cohesion.

Don't miss the mature manzanita and ceanothus in the parkway on Stoner. Tucked into the shade of the side yard are white and yellow abutilon. You'll also see agaves, grasses including red fountain grass (this is the non-invasive one), lupine, pink-flowered Indian hawthorne, and rockrose.

Stepping stones on permeable crushed granite and a rocking bench on the shady porch make this garden especially inviting.

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. 


2564 Armacost Avenue - Cluster 1

Photo credit: Izumi Tanaka Photography
Click here for audio description of this garden.

The owner, a landscaper (Rose in Bloom) uses this garden as a testing ground to see what plants work in what areas as well as to push the envelope somewhat by planting unusual species and seeing how they grow…and how sustainable they are. Inspiration came from a desire to bring some unusual gems to client’s gardens, giving their gardens that extra pizzazz.

One “client” that has certainly benefited is the owner’s own family. There is movement in the garden everywhere. With four water features and fruiting vegetation year round, birds and other wildlife come and go constantly.

The pondless waterfall is a favorite. On spring and summer Sundays, the owners sit on a swing with their coffee and watch the water all morning. The waterfall draws people in. Many guests say it is so relaxing that they‘ve never sat still for as long as they do in this backyard.

The owners love the mixture of succulents and Mediterranean flowering plants. There are some very unusual plants. They wait all year for rare bulbs to display their once yearly blooms. One favorite, Draculuncus Vulgaris (a black lily), only lasts a week, smells like rotten meat, but is so beautiful that all is forgiven. Most of the year, the spider lily looks like an agapanthus but, when it blooms every August, hundreds of white flowers—with tendrils make them look like elegant spiders—cover it.

Trees include Japanese persimmon, orange and loquat. Alpine strawberries grow in pots; their tiny, tiny fruit is heavenly—the owners pick and eat them by the bowlful! Tomatoes, herbs, lettuce, blueberries and other vegetables grow in a small vegetable garden. 

The carefully chosen plants thrive with deep but infrequent irrigation. The garden is watered once weekly in winter and twice weekly during the hot summer. Running the traditional sprinklers for two rounds of 5 minutes each—for a total 10 minutes—eliminates runoff and insures that the water goes deeper to the roots.

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!

3200 Butler Avenue - Cluster 2

Click here for audio description of this garden.

This garden was inspired by the first MVCC Green Garden Showcase when they saw a garden with decomposed granite that was totally rain-watered. They  wanted a native plant garden that would support native pollinators and be like walking up in the Santa Monica mountains. Their goal was that it would eventually become just rain watered to save water. Enjoy this slide show of the step by step transformation from lawn to wildlife!

Mexican bush sage (purple flowers) in foreground, purple sage back right.
Sycamore and persimmon trees growing.
In summer of 2009 they took out the lawn with the help of their gardener. In December 2009 they planted 80 native plants out of the 120 on the full plan developed by Jackie Surber of Urbafloria, a landscape designer who loves native plants. They were able to get a $2,000 rebate from DWP which was paying $1 per square foot of lawn removed. Currently, the Ca$h for Lawn programs pays $2 per square foot of healthy grass removed; click here for program details.

This is an Ocean Friendly Garden that applies the OFG principles of CPR (Conservation, Permeability & Retention). It is also a Certified Wildlife Habitat. And it's beautiful! Enjoy this slide show of the step by step transformation from lawn to wildlife!

Many of you saw this as a newly planted garden on the 2010 tour. You will love seeing the result! Some plants grew and some died. They've replanted some areas and decided to change some plants from the original plan. It has a beautiful rain chain to decrease rain runoff; a persimmon and two pineapple guava trees. In 2011 they  added a circulating fountain and 3 more rain barrels. The 1 gallon sycamore tree is now over 25 feet tall!

American Goldfinches
The owners love the fact that birds, butterflies and bees are attracted to the garden. It looks good and smells fabulous. In good weather they love to sit on the porch, look at the flowers and watch the wildlife. Pruning is free aromatherapy. And they've cut their water bill by more than 1/2. 

Representatives from Ballona Institute will present information about how planting with native plants helps to conserve water - and conserve energy - as well as the things you need to consider when determining which native plants will work in your yard. 

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!