- Author: Carmen Kappos
Gardens are many things to people: sources of food, entertainment, places of peace, solace, beauty and purpose. To many of the people forced to live at Manzanar Internment camp during WW2, gardens there were all those things. The Japanese Americans and Japanese-born people who were made to spend many years there created rock gardens, victory gardens, gardens in front of barracks, a rose garden, a three acre community park and more. There was even a research project growing guayule plants as an alternative source of rubber needed during the war.
Usually each April, an annual pilgrimage is held at Manzanar National Historic Site. Sadly, this spring it cannot be held due to the threat from the Covid-19 pandemic. In this time of necessary physical distancing and stress due to the virus we can look to history and the gardens that helped many people to persevere under extreme duress. Online, the park service has a rich resource of information about that time in our history.
When possible, I urge you to visit the park. Some of the gardens have been excavated of the silt and sand covering the area over the years. Now, you can see the outlines and rock placement of some of these exceptional gardens. Many people, including relatives of people who were interred there, have donated their time to work on stabilizing the beauty of the gardens. You can walk around the community park with its' strolling areas, 2 small lakes, bridges, symbolic turtle and crane rocks, and a pavilion. Imagine the sound of the waterfall and the many plants; iris, roses, and reeds.
In other locations in the park there are rock gardens built for viewing, as people stood in line 3 times a day for meals. Many gardens had ponds and there was a small stream, the stream bed especially created for the sound the flowing water would make. These gardens are a voice from the past about how important garden spaces can be. There were many beautiful gardens that perhaps helped to cheer the soul and support resilience, or maybe make laughter a little easier.
Get inspired by the gardens that once helped many people survive a very trying time in their lives. Research has shown that gardening can reduce stress. Rocks placed in beautiful ways, and plants nurtured to create a place apart, or become part of a meal; the work of gardening itself can help in stressful times. Gardens can help us rebound, whether it's a veggie patch, a favorite house plant or your own rock garden.
Manzanar National Historic Site : www.nps.gov/manz
Manzanar Visitor Center and Block 14 Exhibits Closed Until Further Notice
Following the guidance from the White House and the CDC, Manzanar National Historic Site Visitor Center and Block 14 exhibits are temporarily closed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The grounds and parking lots remain open sunrise to sunset. Maintain social distancing./h3>
- Author: Erich Warkentine
Every Saturday, volunteers from the Los Angeles Master Gardener program are available at The Huntington Ranch Garden in San Marino, California, to talk about sustainable gardening, to share gardening tips and to sample produce. On December 21, 2019, we had the privilege of meeting some dedicated volunteers who gave us a personal tour and some seed samples to take home!
The Huntington Ranch Project describes itself as:
...an urban agricultural garden project that explores and interprets optimal approaches to gardening in our regional ecosystems and climate – the semi-arid landscapes of Southern California. Part classroom and part research lab, the Ranch Garden draws inspiration from Huntington's and the region's agricultural heritage, while making connections with gardeners, native plant enthusiasts, landscape professionals, educators, and researchers throughout Southern California… The Ranch Garden is envisioned as a community resource to help bolster L.A.'s capacity to establish a sustainable and equitable food system.
The Ranch Garden includes a mixture of edible landscapes, including fruit trees, herbs, and vegetables. Master Gardeners, working with The Huntington staff, have designed special raised beds, including some fully enclosed beds, designed to protect against squirrels, rabbits and other hungry critters. The Ranch Garden also features a hydroponics demonstration.
Although any trip to The Huntington is well worth the time, the Ranch Garden is a feature that should not be missed by gardeners who raise edible crops.
It is only open on Saturdays from 10-1.
- Author: Erich Warkentine
On our recent trip to The Huntington, we divided our time between the Ranch House garden, the Chinese and Japanese gardens, the bonsai collection, and the desert garden.
The Chinese garden (the Garden of Flowing Fragrance) features a lake, tea house, stone bridges and waterfalls, against a background of mature oaks and pines.
The Japanese Garden includes a traditional moon bridge and tea house, and a zen garden.
Outside of the Garden, local bonsai associations have dramatic bonsai on display.
The desert garden contains over 2,000 species in 60 landscaped beds, and its website states it is one of the largest outdoor collections of cacti and succulents in the world. We were surprised to see many cacti flowering at this early time of the year. Stunning cholla, barrels, aloes and agaves are just some of the cacti and succulents that are thrilling to see. Yuccas dominate the landscape and tower above the walkways.
It would be easy to spend a full day or more enjoying all of the gardens The Huntington has to offer – but try to visit on a Saturday so you can enjoy the special treat of a visit to the Ranch House garden.
For more information, see https://www.huntington.org/gardens
- Author: Dustin Blakey
The Eastern Sierra is a challenging place to garden, but Chalfant stands out as a particularly difficult place to keep non-native plants happy. The wind is a problem, for sure, but most complaints Master Gardeners receive are related to the soil.
Soils in Chalfant developed in a shallow basin that collected material washed in from limestone and volcanic sources. While residents don't have to worry about their plants being calcium-deficient, they have a host of other issues to contend with.
Broadly speaking, almost all of Chalfant has alkaline soils. This means the pH is high: about 8.5 in most places. Most garden and landscape plants would prefer a soil pH of 6.5, about 100 times more acidic. The most common effect of alkaline soils is iron deficiency.
Soils may contain abundant amounts of iron, but as the pH increases, the plant is unable to use it. Conifers, hollies, and azaleas are commonly affected. If you have planted something prone to iron deficiency, you can apply iron as a short-term fix, but the real solution is to lower the pH. This is usually done by using sulfur. An old recommendation that came from my office years ago was to apply 9 pounds of elemental sulfur per 1,000 sq. ft. This should still be valid.
Fertilizers like 9-9-9 plus Iron that are available locally can also help.
Iron deficiency is common in Chalfant, but the far eastern part and the area west of Highway 6 but east of the drainage that runs through the west side is also high in salts—a double whammy! (See the area labeled 371 below.) Soils high in salt will burn foliage and stunt growth. Watering deeply can help push the salts below the root zone, but they seem to have a way of working their way back up.
On trees, the best course of action seems to be building an earthen berm around the tree and filling the basin with water to irrigate. (Do this when plants need water, not daily.) This helps to flush the salts down low. Daily shallow watering keeps trees alive, but I've seen many problems with this approach as the trees mature since the roots stay confined to the wet area. If you have a lawn, this is probably your only option, but for single, specimen trees or foundation plants (like those in a bed) you should try to keep the salt flushed down. Unfortunately, to do this requires extra irrigation.
Try to avoid using synthetic fertilizers in this area. Most fertilizers of these types are salts and will increase salinity. Instead use organic sources of fertilizer if possible as these are less prone to add more salinity. Assuming you can keep the critters under control, I've seen gardens do fine in this area with plenty of organic material and attention to watering.
For gardens, perhaps the best solution on the west side would be to build raised beds and fill them with topsoil and organic matter. Avoid the soil altogether!