Friday, December 7, 2012

Join Us This Saturday, December 8!

JOIN US this Saturday from 10am-2pm as we clean up and garden at the Cahuenga Branch Library and celebrate the library's 96th birthday! It's part of a great day of activity there which includes the Friends of Cahuenga Library book sale, the West Coast Origami Guild annual Christmas tree decoration and learn how to help solve the homeless issue in our community with People Assisting The Homeless (PATH)'s outreach team, which will be giving the homeless and non-homeless alike information on their services.

If you plan to help us garden, we encourage you to bring your own gloves and tools, especially de-weeding equipment and shovels. We'll have refreshments for the volunteers!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Help Us Save Our Natives This Thursday!

The Cahuenga Branch Library will be fumigated on August 24-27 and the library staff have notified us that the City plans to remove or cut any plants within 18 inches of the building next week! The six varieties of California native plants (Giant chain fern, hummingbird sage, coral bells, Douglas iris, evergreen currant and western sword fern) in the rear entrance of the library that we planted in December, are  the highlight of our garden, and so we have to temporarily transplant them into 5-gallon containers for the next couple of weeks in order to save them. 

We're looking for a few volunteers to help us out on the evening of Thursday, August 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. to dig up the plants and put them in the containers. If there's anyone with a pickup truck or cargo van that can transport them to a temporary location four blocks away that would be great as well! We have tools, but you're welcome to bring your own shovel. 

The Cahuenga Branch Library is at 4591 Santa Monica Blvd (corner Madison) in East Hollywood. Map here: For more info, email

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Little Recognition!

Christine Ramsey (front, left), treasurer of the Friends of Cahuenga Library, chats with Mary, her counterpart at the Friends of Los Feliz Library.
Today, the CahuenGardeners, other Cahuenga Library volunteers and volunteers from several other L.A. Public Library branches were honored at a Volunteer Recognition Breakfast this morning at the Pio Pico Koreatown Branch Library.

I was asked to do an "inspirational speech" to the 100 or so LAPL volunteers and staff in attendance. I thought I would be one of a handful of volunteers who got to speak, but I learned just the other day that I was the library volunteer speaker. So here's my speech:

Most of the time was devoted to networking and meeting each other. Many were literacy tutors, there were some who help library staff stack and sort boos and media. A few people approached me and were interested in how to keep their library clean.

We also had a photo of the "Cahuenga Crew"

L to R: Liza Xu (CahuenGardeners), Elson Trinidad (CahuenGardeners), Ramona Cash (literacy volunteer), Cathie Ehle (Cahuenga Staff - Young Adult Librarian)
The event took place in an LAPL training facility located in the upper floors of the Pio Pico-Koreatown branch library, which was still closed for the day when the breakfast program went on. I ran into Hollywood Branch Sr. Librarian Arthur Pond (who, incidentally was former Sr. Librarian at Cahuenga circa late 1990s, and gave me the green light for my early community meetings there), told me the history of this branch, how it was once located near the Pico Union area, and a Korean company donated the building to the LAPL, which was supported by then-councilman Nate Holden. Another location was eyed by the community and supported by the City Librarian, but the councilman got his way in the end.

According to Melissa Potter, LAPL volunteer coordinator, this was the first time in about 10 years that LAPL volunteers had a recognition program, and similar programs are being put on in different LAPL regions.

It was a great way to share our experiences and meet so many other devoted people in their communities! And the food was pretty good too!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Little Big Sunday

Two years ago our garden started from a huge Big Sunday volunteer effort, giving the Cahuenga Library an instant makeover in a day. It just so happened that Big Sunday Weekend fell on the same weekend as our monthly cleanup, so we made our effort part of the hundreds of other volunteer projects around California - Project #294.

 We had about half dozen volunteers come help out, some first-timers, some Big Sunday veterans. There was a moderate amount of trash, not too bad. We had some free Big Sunday t-shirts for all volunteers and some water and snacks, and a couple Big Mamas and Papas Pizzas to reward everyone at the end.

Spring is definitely here, with the other poppies in Area 3 now blooming!

And here's the front of the Library with the penstemon in full bloom!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Spring Is Here

Just went by the Library today to see the progress of our babies. They seem to be doing very well!
The first California Golden Poppy in Area 3 has finally bloomed, adding a nice accent of color to that section (Above)

Also, the replacement Baja Bush Snapdragon under the pepper tree in Area 2 is flowering:

And thought it's been blooming for a while, the Coral Bells in the back entrance provide a nice pollen snack for a bee:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Trio of Irises

Here's some Canyon Snow Douglas Irises greeting visitors to the Library with a nice welcome!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Join Us This Saturday!

Join us, Saturday, April 7, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for our monthly cleanup/gardening event at the Cahuenga Branch Library!

There's a moderate, but manageable amount of trash and five more plants that need to go into the ground. The rest of the plants are either blooming, or ready to bloom, so they don't really need much work right now.

If you're interested in participating, email us at

East Hollywood's Own 'Iris' Show

At Hollywood & Highland, in the (former) Kodak Theatre, there's a Cirque Du Soleil show called "Iris."

Well, here in the Eastern side of Hollywood, we have our very own "Iris" show, and it's free to watch!

The after three attempts, our native Douglas Irises have finally bloomed at the Cahuenga Library!

We planted irises back at the original Big Sunday planting in May, 2010. All but one either died or got lost. That one that survived spent most of the time half-buried in the ground near the back entrance, eventually surrounded by the festuca grasses. It never bloomed last year, but it still looked strong and healthy. Aside from the rains, this particular plant hasn't been manually watered in nearly a year.

Finally, last week, a flower bud could be felt amongst the leaves, and today, there it was - pictured above.

The "Canyon Snow" Douglas Irises in the back entryway of the Library have also bloomed! Irises were planted there in Winter 2010 but they never survived. So the hours of labor turning over the soil before planting here in January totally paid off, with yellow-throated white flowers welcoming visitors to the Cahuenga Library.

We have six Irises planted, and two of them have two flowers in bloom already. The Iris bloom season continues until June.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Even More New Additions

I couldn't resist - the Theodore Payne Foundation had its semi-annual Poppy Day plant sale at its nurser in Sun Valley today, and I wanted to check it out. They had discounts on all plants, and additional discounts for members like me, so with some money still in our plant budget, I went and checked it out.

I ended up getting a California Fuschia (left)  and a Sagebrush (right), as well as some deergrass and California festuca grass seeds.

I had to be at the Library anyway for a meeting, so after that I went ahead with planting these new babies, both in Area 2:

There were still some plants from last week that didn't get in yet, so I got to those. First, a pair of deergrasses to join the festucas in the back:

Now the Purple Sage, which joins the much-larger Cleveland Sage in the back:

It was also a time to witness some new Douglas Irises ready to pop out:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Some New Additions

The planting season for California natives goes up until the end of March or so, and with a rainstorm rolling in this Sunday, I ventured out to Matilija Nursery (where much of our original garden plants in May and December 2010 came from) out in Moorpark to buy 16 new plants for our garden to round out this planting season. Matilija also has some of the best prices in Southern California for native plants, going between $4 and $6 per 1 gallon pot, about half of what you'd pay in most nurseries! I even bought a few for my own home native garden (which isn't nearly as robust as the one in the Library!)

On May 5, we're planning an "open house" event for the garden, so we want to make it look more interesting and minimize the "vacant spaces." Now we have 23 varieties of California native plants on our grounds!

The new plants in Area 3 are: Purple Sage (2), Red Buckwheat (2), Matilija Poppy (1), Chalk Dudleya (2), Chaparral Yucca (2), Deergrass (2) and some more Toyon (2), White Sage (2) and a Baja Bush Snapdragon (1) to replace those that were removed or destroyed.
There's a White Sage and two tiny Toyons now added to Area 3!
From foreground to background: A new Purple Sage, an existing Hummingbird Sage, two Red Buckwheats and a towering Matilija Poppy towards the back. 
The Library closes early on Friday, so I was only able to get in about 5 plants, but the rest will be planted in the next few days.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Everything's Just Poppy'ing Out!

The first poppy is gone, but now we have three!
Spring has finally come, and what an appropriate time for this!

Bad news: The poppy that bloomed on Monday is now gone, its petals made victim to the wind. Good news: We have three of them now!

Our front planters will soon be a nice array of purple and orange (with some tiny white flowers and teeny-sized red fruit from the strawberries).  Spring has just begun...

Monday, March 19, 2012

We Like The Flowers, The Flowers That Go Bloom

Our first poppy!
This past weekend's rainstorm gave us a much-needed soaking, and no doubt our native plants were happy. Now that the sun is back out, the first California Golden Poppy has finally opened up for us! 

Unfortunately, it's missing a petal, which was probably brought on by the rain and/or wind. But, it's finally here, with more to come!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Thank You Very Mulch!

Just in time for this weekend's rainstorm (hopefully), we just got a fresh 5 cubic yard supply of mulch from The City's Bureau of Street Servies - Urban Forestry Division. This was immediately placed over Area 2 and Area 3 of the garden, so as to not see a bunch of weeds growing a few months from now. 

It was a lot of work, but fortunately I got some help from Azniv and Lilit (left), two Hollywood High School students who volunteer at the Cahuenga Library every week. They seemed to have no problem transporting 5-gallon containers of mulch, and their help speeded up the process. They normally help sort out books inside, but Cathie, the Young Adult Librarian, suggested they lend a hand.

Hopefully we'll get a good amount of rain this weekend, which will soak the mulch and keep the ground moist. Unlike last Winter, we've hardly gotten much rain whenever the storm clouds gather.

Job well done!
I also gave the youth volunteers a short tour of the Penstemons, the Woodland Strawberries and the California Golden Poppies growing on the front planters.

Speaking of which, there's about three Golden Poppy bulbs that have shed their "wizard hats" and are about to bloom soon.  There's over a dozen bulbs on that one plant! 

As for the mulch, the minimum the City can give is 5 cubic yards, due to the types of vehicles they use. We obviously have more than we need, so we're giving it away to the community for free! I even made up a Craigslist ad and a tweet on Twitter to spread the word. Please pass it on!

In the meantime, if you need 5 cubic yards or more of free mulch from the City, just call Brandon Brookman at the City of Los Angeles' Urban Forestry Division at 818.489.6909 to schedule a delivery.

Thanks Brandon, and thanks Azniv and Lilit for your help today!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Almost There!

C'mon Golden Poppy!
In more positive news, this first California Golden Poppy bloom of 2012 is almost ready to open up!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Oh No, Not Again...

This Hummingbird Sage did not last long at its new home.
The Los Angeles City Department of Recreation and Parks, the wonderful and responsible (cough-cough) caretakers of our City's library grounds, recently wreaked havoc again today, this time doing some tree pruning.

It was resident birdman Rik Martino who told me that "They ruined your plants again" and the almost-blooming Hummingbird Sage that was recently transplanted to Area 2 was carelessly trampled-on by the work crews.

If you've been following us, the 'Wreck' and Parks Department destroyed and removed some of our plants in February after their annual "landscaping" work, which wasn't even done with prior notice to the Library's staff. After this was brought up to the Library staff and the LAPL, the regional supervisor from Rec and Parks reportedly toured the Library grounds, gave a 3rd-hand apology and said "We will be mre careful next time." Uh...right.

Of course, just like last time, there was a positive side, a few of the dead trees along the wall in the back were finally removed. 
The two right-most trees in this section (Area 7) were finally removed.
There might be some potential for planting something there in the future...As long as Rec & Parks knows or cares about it.

Update: (3/16/12) Jie, the Sr. Librarian at Cahuenga, just informed me that it was the City's Department of General Services that pruned/removed the trees (and smashed the plant), not Rec & Parks (Sorry bout that guys...). Though this makes things even more complicated!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ready To Bloom...

Yankee Point Ceanothus (California Lilac) already blooming!
Daylight Savings Time us almost upon us, which means Spring is almost here. Though we hardly got any rain this winter, we've been constantly watering our new plants. The flowering blooms are an indicator that we're doing something right. 

This Ceanothus (California Lilac) is planted below the pepper tree in Area 2, prone to being stepped on, prone to water sliding down the slope of the ground. But today to our surprise there were already flowers blooming, where there weren't any just days ago!

Hummingbird Sage ready to flower any moment now.
Its neighbor, one of the newly-transplanted Hummingbird Sages is starting to produce its flower stalk. Soon, its magenta-colored flowers will start protruding.

The other plants that were transplanted last week seem to be doing well, none of them stepped-on or torn out. So far so good!

We're getting a new 5-cubic yard supply of mulch this Friday the 16th. The mulch will cover the bare spots of  areas 2 and 3, and in the north margin of the parking lot. We will have more than we need so anyone who wants free mulch, grab some after Saturday! We'll be Tweeting and Facebooking it too!

One of the three Oregon Grape Berberises (Berberi?) is starting to show some flower buds. Again, these plants look like they're doing rather well!

The front planters (Area 1) are coming along. A recent blog entry showed the first  Margarita BOP Penstemons starting to bloom, and this theme is continuing in 3 of the other planters as well. The fourth one, the easternmost one, is partially in the shade, but buds are starting to come out, so their time to bloom will eventually come.

Sorry, no strawberries to report this time! The last one was gone, hopefully a bird got to eat it!

Green Wizard Hats? No, just poppies ready to bloom!
The mature accidental poppy growth in front of one of the planters is showing four "wizard-hat"-shaped buds, and one of them has a faint yellow tint to it, which means it's going to bloom very, very soon! 

The newly-seeded poppies are still coming along. They're still a couple months from blooming. But hopefully we'll have a nice purple-and-gold display in our front planters (for you Lakers fans)!

There are two other mature poppies growing in the ground in Area 3, next to one of the Cleveland Sages and a newly-transplanted Hummingbird Sage. No "wizard hats" there just yet...

In all, things are coming up for our Library garden...Here's an overview of the front planters, you can see the purple starting to show!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Guide to watering California native plants

Here's a guide from Las Pilitas Nursery in San Luis Obispo County on watering California native plants. As many are aware, they are mostly drought-tolerant, and when young they need a lot of water to get established. After then, they're pretty much on their own. Too much water can kill these plants of cause them to live a shortened life, especially when given at the wrong time of year. A lot of interesting info here!

Monday, March 5, 2012

First To Bloom!

What a difference a week makes! Or even a couple days! The first Margarita BOP Penstemon bloomed today in the front planters (Area 1)! Even just last Saturday, they were still unopened buds! Most likely the unseasonably warm weather brought on their early debut.

Having never seen one of these in bloom, they look rather exotic, a hypnotic gradient of blue and purple. With 12 of these planted in front of the Library, there's more to come!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

March Cleanup/Planting Report

We had four volunteers come out today - Amanda, Elson, Liza and Luis - the same four who planted the back entryway plants back in December.

The main goal this month was to transplant most of the Hummingbird Sage that had been divided and growing in the pots since early December. Not only did no one steal any of the pots, but all but one of the potted divisions grew back nicely on their own! We placed these in areas 2 (the mostly-shaded area under the pepper tree) and 3 (where the Cleveland and White sages are growing and where the City ripped out most of an established Hummingbird Sage last month.

A Hummingbird Sage makes its new home.
There were about five Hummingbird Sages planted in areas 2 and 3. One of them was a rather large one, ready to flower, that had been growing in a 5-gallon pot. Luis planted it under the pepper tree. The removal of the weed barrier back in January was a smart move, as now the soil was much easier to dig (and better for the roots to grow now).

We actually had very little trash this month, which is always a good thing. Amanda took care of most of what was there.

We also attempted to sow some leftover California Golden Poppy seeds. Elson tilled the soil in Area 4 (East side of the Library property) and sprinkled the seeds across a 20-foot area.

Hopefully some CA Golden Poppies will grow here!
The biggest challenge is working with Rik Martino, the homeless resident who lives across from the Library, better known as "The Birdman of Silver Lake." But this is East Hollywood, and we also have our share of trash and blight here, so we're trying to make him understand that the leftover bread he leaves behind does nothing but attract more trash and blight to the neighborhood.

We did have success in telling him not to spread breadcrumbs and water containers on the low masonry wall that borders Area 3, and he abided.

Fortunately, we saw a sight today that, quite literally, represented the fruits of our labor.

A berry sweet addition to our garden!
It was the first Woodland Strawberry, growing in one of the Area 1 planters!

Just two months after we planted them there, it bore the first fruit!

Granted, these are tiny strawberries and probably not as tasty as the ones you'd find at the local farmer's market, but it's such a cool thing to see them grow up right here on Santa Monica Boulevard!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hello World!

We've decided to make this blog to track the progress of our little California native plant garden at East Hollywood's Cahuenga Branch Library. It started in May 2010 and we've been tending to it ever since then. We want to get the community, and people in general, interested and educated about California native plants, which are not just drought-tolerant, but also great for the environment (they don't require any pesticides) and overall ecosystem (insects and animals depend on these plants for food and sometimes shelter).

Los Angeles, despite what's been said, isn't really a "desert," but an area that originally had amazing biodiversity. Natural creeks ran down the mountains and into rivers, which let out into the sea. Before California was settled by the Spanish, the local Native American Tongva tribe (who once had a village called Cahug-na, of which our Cahuenga Library derives its name from) lived sustainably in what is now the Los Angeles area for thousands of years, depending on these native plants for food, medicine, shelter, transportation, clothing and ritual use.

We hope you'll enjoy following the progress of our plants as well, and hopefully get inspired to help volunteer and join us sometime!