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by Deb Shaw

The BAGSC September quarterly meeting will be held on
Saturday, September 23, 2017

at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, in the Brody Botanical Center Auditorium (downstairs).

Arrive about 9:30 am to chat, settle in and view the BAGSC 20th Anniversary history that was on display at the celebration at the Los Angeles County Arboretum on August 26. The meeting portion of the program will begin promptly at 10 am and will cover upcoming classes, workshops, exhibitions and member news.

Bring your current and latest works and sketchbooks to share. Bring lunch and eat in the Auditorium at the desks or in the Atrium area outside the Auditorium. Feel free to purchase lunch at any of The Huntington’s cafés, although lines can be long during the weekend. Eating is not allowed on The Huntington grounds except in designated areas,

At 12:30 pm, Deborah Shaw will give a presentation entitled “Mushrooms in Djibouti: Protecting Traditional Botanical Art in an Increasingly Digital World.”

This is an important presentation that not only will cover scary horror stories and how to protect your artwork, but also will highlight solutions, tools and resources, and fun apps to try on your tablet or smart phone. Extensive handouts will be given out with resources lists, websites and digital Photoshop recipes to follow at home. Technical jargon will be kept to a minimum, and I haven’t had anyone fall asleep during this lecture yet!

The goal of the presentation is to keep everyone safe on the web AND get everyone prepped for filling out our BAGSC website gallery and creating or refining your own digital presence. Added bonus: get a quick view of the BAGSC website and blog so you can use those resources too!

Do you have a “computer-savvy” helper you prefer to have do the digital work while you paint? (Very smart of you.) Bring them along; there is no charge and all are welcome.

After the presentation, there are lots of things to do. Deb will hang around, answer questions, and take in images for the BAGSC Website Gallery. See the BAGSC exhibition wall upstairs, “Inspired by Latin America.” View the wonderful exhibition in the Florilegium room and then head over to the new, spectacular “Visual Voyages” exhibition in the Boone Gallery at The Huntington. Bring your art supplies and draw/paint Bonsais in preparation for the upcoming exhibition, “Bonsais of The Huntington.”

Have topics for the agenda? Please email Sally Jacobs.

Please RSVP.
We will need to have passes for everyone and want to be sure to have enough handouts. Please email Clara Josephs to let her know you will be attending the meeting. As always, carpooling is encouraged.

This email duplicates some of the information in the Members Only area of the BAGSC website, and will be posted to the blog. A map, parking instructions and details about what to bring if you would like your artwork to be posted to the BAGSC gallery are on the BAGSC website in the Members Only section, on the BAGSC Quarterly Meetings page.

Hope to see you there!

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By Gilly Shaeffer, posted by Deb Shaw

Matt Ritter talking with Diane Nelson Daly about her watercolor of Bauhinia x blakeana, Hong Kong Orchid Tree.

Matt Ritter talking with Diane Nelson Daly about her watercolor of Bauhinia x blakeana, Hong Kong Orchid Tree.

The Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California (BAGSC) celebrated its 20th Anniversary on August 26, 2017 with a three-event program held at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden. The late afternoon program started in the Arboretum Library with a tour of our current exhibition, Illustrating the Urban Forest: 20 Years of Botanical Art. Following a welcome from LA Arboretum Librarian Susan Eubank and BAGSC President Janice Sharp, our guest speaker, Matt Ritter, led the exhibit tour and called on several BAGSC artists to join him in discussing their paintings.

From the exhibition, BAGSC members and guests went to Ayres Hall at the Arboretum for Matt’s keynote presentation on the trees of Southern California. We were grateful to have Matt, a botanist, tree expert and very engaging speaker, share his knowledge of trees and take us on a tour of the urban forest. His presentation shed light on many issues that affect trees in our Southern California environment, as well as focusing on those that do well in our climate, neighborhoods, streets and parks.

BAGSC member Terri Munroe played beautiful harp music to accompany our dinner on the Peacock Café patio.

BAGSC member Terri Munroe played beautiful harp music to accompany our dinner on the Peacock Café patio.

After Matt’s presentation, BAGSC members and guests meandered over to the Peacock Café patio. As members and guests arrived on the patio, we were welcomed by heavenly harp music by BAGSC member, Terri Munroe, and a magnificent view of the setting sun casting a golden light over our dinner celebration. Members and guests checked out a table display of our 20-year history in photographs, past BAGSC newsletters and other memorabilia from group events.

Before beginning a delicious dinner, we heard a few words from a letter sent by Olga Eysymontt about the beginnings of our group, and listened to fun reminiscences of early times in BAGSC by Leslie Walker (a former BAGSC president). Janice Sharp (current BAGSC president) spoke about what the group is doing now and our plans for the future, including exhibitions, workshops and collaborations with various public gardens in Southern California.

An elegant and delicious dinner on the patio of the Peacock Café.

An elegant and delicious dinner on the patio of the Peacock Café.

Later during the dinner program, I had the pleasure of expressing the group’s deepest appreciation on behalf of BAGSC members to three members who have made outstanding contributions to our group over the years.

The first person to be mentioned was Tania Marien. She was responsible for starting our BAGSC newsletter, and was editor for a number of years. Her selfless spirit and dedication to botanical art found further expression when she became one of the main organizers for the American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA) 2008 Annual Conference which was held at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. In 2015, Tania played a major role again as a key organizer of the ASBA “Weird, Wild & Wonderful” Symposium which also was held at The Huntington. Her tireless efforts have increased awareness about plants and botanical art in Southern California and around the world.

We are also grateful for the contributions made by Deborah Shaw to furthering people’s awareness of botanical art and the role of our BAGSC organization. Deb has been instrumental in helping our group become acquainted with current digital technologies. Some of her accomplishments include creating the BAGSC Blog and the beautiful BAGSC website. She has been an extraordinary force in keeping our membership well informed about BAGSC events and ASBA events. She was also a key organizer of the ASBA Annual Conference of 2008 and the ASBA “Weird, Wild & Wonderful” Symposium of 2015. It is hard to imagine how Deb manages to keep our group well informed while also creating paintings that draw great admiration.

And last but not least, our Tania Norris deserves a big thank you for outstanding contributions she has made to BAGSC and botanical art. Tania helped to get the “ball rolling” which led to the 2008 ASBA Annual Conference being held at the The Huntington. She helped in many ways to make the first ASBA Conference held in LA a big success. Tania was also a key organizer for the 2015 ASBA “Weird, Wild & Wonderful” Symposium held at The Huntington. Her selfless efforts have helped to lay the foundation for a special collaboration between BAGSC and The Huntington Brody Botanical Center. Her love for botanical art and her generous support have helped in establishing Los Angeles as a great place for this art form to thrive.

A big and heartfelt thank you to the many others who also have contributed to BAGSC and botanical art over the last 20 years. The truth is, we could not have reached this 20-year milestone without everyone’s contributions and support, too numerous to name.

We could not have had this lovely event without the help of BAGSC member, Jan Clouse and her husband, Charles, who designed the printed post cards and invitations for this 20th celebration. Additional thanks go to Cristina Baltayian for designing and creating the floral centerpieces for the tables. Thank you to Terri Munroe, for volunteering to play music for the dinner, which added a special magic to our evening. And, of course, a heartfelt thank you to Susan Eubank and the LA Arboretum—one of our first botanical homes and an avid supporter of BAGSC, plants, and botanical art.

Most importantly, thank you to all our dedicated members and supporters for all you have done during this 20-year period to make us the strong and vibrant group we are today. We gratefully look forward to the next 20 years.

P.S. from BAGSC members: A big thank you to Gilly Shaeffer, who served as BAGSC President for many years, and volunteered to chair our 20th Anniversary Celebration committee.

Click any of the circles to see the slide show and the captions:

by Lesley Randall, posted by Deb Shaw

In preparation for the upcoming BAGSC Exhibition, Ficus at San Diego Botanic Garden, here is a bit of information about this extraordinary group of plants.

We’ll start with the one most of us know best: the edible fig. Ficus carica, has been in cultivation since ancient times. Though humans typically eat only this species of Fig, others are considered to be keystone species in their habitats, providing food (leaves as well as figs) and shelter for a wide variety of mammals, birds and insects. Several species are plants of special significance in many cultures. For example, Ficus religiosa, the Bo Tree, is said to be the tree under which Buddha sat while gaining enlightenment.

Some figs are cauliflorous, a botanical term for plants which have flowers and fruits growing directly from their main stems or woody trunks rather than from new growth. The word comes from Latin. Caulis means trunk or stem and Flory means flower. Photo by Lesley Randall, © 2017.

Some figs are cauliflorous, a botanical term for plants which have flowers and fruits growing directly from their main stems or woody trunks rather than from new growth. The word comes from Latin. Caulis means trunk or stem and Flory means flower. Photo by Lesley Randall, © 2017.

The genus Ficus is a member of the Moraceae, or Mulberry Family. There are more than 800 species of Ficus. Most are tropical, but there are some species that survive in more temperate zones, such as the edible fig. The genus is highly diverse, with species growing as epiphytes, massive banyans, stranglers, shrubs, caudiciforms, vines and small trees. They are found from rainforests to dry rocky deserts.

 

So what makes a Ficus a Ficus?

Ficus auriculatus cut to reveal the interior and white latex. Photo by Lesley Randall, © 2017.

Ficus auriculatus cut to reveal the interior and white latex. Photo by Lesley Randall, © 2017.

There are a couple of key characteristics that separate this group. First is the unusual flower/fruit arrangement—the fig itself. Known as a syconium in botanical lingo, the fig is an urn-shaped structure lined with tiny flowers on the inside. The flowers are pollinated by a specialized group of wasps that enter the syconium through an opening called an ostiole.

The second key characteristic are the paired stipules that enclose the developing leaf. Though these often drop off as the leaf begins to unfold, they leave a distinct scar at the base of the leaf. The stipules may be separate, or fused into one structure.

The third key characteristic is the sap: a striking white or yellow latex.

Other characteristics to note are: an alternate leaf arrangement, and typically, pinnate venation. All figs share these characteristics that, combined, distinguish them from other plant genera. How these characters are expressed are what makes the group so interesting. The syconium can be as large as a baseball or less than a centimeter wide. It may be scaled or smooth, sessile or stalked and borne in leaf axils or on the main branches and trunk (cauliflorous.) The leaves are typically entire, but several species have lobed leaves. Leaves may be thick and tough, light and delicate, very large or very small. The bark can be smooth, rough, or in the case of a couple Australian species, corky and fire retardant.

Ficus with stipules and scars. Photo by Lesley Randall, © 2017.

Ficus with stipules and scars. Photo by Lesley Randall, © 2017.

Where to find Ficus in Southern California?
The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, San Diego Zoo, and San Diego Botanic Garden all have nice collections. The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens have some as well. They also can be found in parks, lining city streets, in back yards, as house plants, in nurseries and as Bonsai specimens.

Want to learn more? Check out Fig Web which has information on specific species as well as general information on the group. BAGSC members who are interested in organizing and/or attending expeditions to find and paint specimens should let us know your interest and stay tuned!

Information about the Ficus exhibition at the San Diego Botanic Garden can be found on BAGSC’s website. Information about the “Call for Entries” can be found on the “Members Only” page of the BAGSC website.

Ficus religiosa, the Bo Tree, with reddish new growth. Photo by Lesley Randall, © 2017.

Ficus religiosa, the Bo Tree, with reddish new growth. Photo by Lesley Randall, © 2017.

by Janice Sharp, posted by Deb Shaw

Artwork hanging above the card catalog in the Arboretum Library. Artists are: (L to R) Diane Nelson Daly, Deborah Shaw, and Estelle DeRidder. Photo by Janice Sharp, © 2017.

Artwork hanging above the card catalog in the Arboretum Library. Artists are: (L to R) Diane Nelson Daly, Deborah Shaw, and Estelle DeRidder. Photo by Janice Sharp, © 2017.

Illustrating the Urban Forest: 20 Years of Botanical Art, is now open at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden. The exhibition, featuring Southern Californian urban trees, is now hanging in the Arboretum’s library and includes 29 artworks by 17 BAGSC artists. The exhibition is being held in conjunction with BAGSC’s 20th anniversary celebration.

Photo by Janice Sharp, © 2017.

Photo by Janice Sharp, © 2017.

BAGSC artists in the exhibition include: Diane Nelson Daly, Estelle DeRidder, Cynthia Jackson, Susan Jackson, Clara Josephs, Suzanne Kuuskmae, Patricia A. Mark, Arillyn Moran-Lawrence, Terri Munroe, Marilyn Anne Parino, Veronica Raymond, Olga Ryabtsova, Mitsuko Schultz, Gilly Shaeffer, Janice Sharp, Deborah Shaw, and Jude Wiesenfeld.

Illustrating the Urban Forest: 20 Years of Botanical Art will run from July 6, 2017 to September 28, 2017.

A collage of artwork in the exhibition in The Arboretum Library. Photo collage by Janice Sharp, © 2017.

A collage of artwork in the exhibition in The Arboretum Library. Photo collage by Janice Sharp, © 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join BAGSC members for our 20th Anniversary Celebration at The Arboretum

On Saturday, August 26, BAGSC will celebrate their 20th Anniversary. The program for the celebration will be:

4:00 – 4:45 p.m.
“Illustrating the Urban Forest: 20 Years of Botanical Art” Exhibition by BAGSC Members • Tour of the exhibition includes light refreshments and comments by the artists and Matt Ritter, our guest speaker.

5:00 – 5:45 p.m.
Presentation by Matt Ritter, botanist and author of A Californian’s Guide to the Trees Among Us

6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Buffet Dinner • Highlights of BAGSC’s 20-year history

BAGSC members and their guests are invited to the programs and the dinner for $60 per person. Admission to The Arboretum is free; please see the Visitor’s Center attendant for free admission to the Arboretum Gardens for BAGSC guests.

Please email Gilly Shaeffer to RSVP with your name, phone number and the number in your party. Gilly will send an email reply to let you know where to send your check, payable to BAGSC, by August 15.

Los Angeles County Arboretum members and others who would like to attend only the exhibition tour and Matt Ritter presentation (but not the dinner) are welcome to join us for that part of the program. Arboretum members are $10; non-members are $15, payable at the door. There is no additional charge for Arboretum admission.

The 2017 Summer/Fall issue of The Arboretum's magazine has a page featuring the upcoming exhibitions in The Arboretum's library.

The 2017 Summer/Fall issue of The Arboretum’s magazine has a page featuring the upcoming exhibitions in The Arboretum’s library.

The Urban Forest exhibition can be seen with admission to The Arboretum during regular business hours in The Arboretum’s Library. There are no additional charges. The Arboretum is located at: 301 North Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia CA 91007-2697.

by Nancy Beckham, posted by Deb Shaw

Artwork on postcard: Slipper Orchid Maudiae, © 2017, Kathy Morgan

Artwork on postcard: Slipper Orchid Maudiae, © 2017, Kathy Morgan

The Botanical Art and Illustration Class of the Los Angeles County Arboretum is proud to announce their Second ARTboretum Art show, an annual art exhibit and sale to be held Friday April 28 through Sunday, April 30 from 10 am – 4:30 pm, and 10:00 am until 2:00 pm on Sunday. Last year’s first event was an amazing success, with more than 60 works of framed art available for purchase, demonstrations, a reception, and sales of beautiful cards and prints of the artists work. More than 700 people attended this three-day event.

ARTboretum is back this year, with exciting hands-on demonstrations so the public can experience the thrill of drawing and painting plants. Framed or unframed originals and fine art giclées, cards and prints of the work will be available for purchase just before Mothers’ Day. The artists will be on hand to welcome the public and to share their knowledge and love of their art. A reception for the artists will be held on Saturday, April 29 from 1 – 3 pm in the Oak Room.

The LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden is located at 301 North Baldwin Avenue in Arcadia. Hope to see you at this exciting event in April.

by Gilly Shaeffer, posted by Deb Shaw

Save-the-date postcard, designed by Jan and Chas Clouse, featuring Gilly Shaeffer's watercolor of a California native walnut, © 2017.

Save-the-date postcard, designed by Jan and Chas Clouse, featuring Gilly Shaeffer’s watercolor of a California native walnut, © 2017.

The Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California (BAGSC) is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year. Mark your calendars–on August 26, 2017, the Guild will be having a gala celebration in honor of our Anniversary.

Since its inception in 1997, our group has grown, changed and keeps getting better. So, we have good reason to celebrate. Members continue to develop their botanical art skills through classes and workshops, and, as a result of this dedication and hard work, we have more and more opportunities to show our art. Through outreach, exhibition and educational activities, BAGSC has increased southern Californian’s awareness and appreciation for this art form.

We have many activities planned in honor of our 20-year milestone.

The Los Angeles Arboretum Library, one of our earliest supporters, will be hosting a BAGSC exhibition, entitled “Illustrating the Urban Forest: 20 Years of Botanical Art”. The exhibition will feature trees that grow in Mediterranean climates. Opening in early July, 2017, the exhibition will run until the end of September.

On August 26 we will hold a 20th Anniversary Celebration at the Los Angeles Arboretum:

4:00 – Artists will lead a tour of the exhibition and discuss the art.

5:00 – A special presentation will be given by Matt Ritter, author of A Californian’s Guide to Trees Among Us. Matt is a professor at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, a tree expert and a photographer. This promises to be a delightful and informative presentation.

6:00 – The Anniversary Dinner will be held at the Peacock Café Patio at sunset. Olga Eysymontt, long time botanical art instructor, will share memories of BAGSC beginnings and how botanical art got started in Los Angeles. And there will be opportunities for all to connect with old friends and meet new ones.

Invitations to this special event will be available soon. The suggested donation for attending is $60.

Keep your eyes open for invitations and more information. Entries for the exhibition at the LA Arboretum Library, “Illustrating the Urban Forest: 20 Years of Botanical Art” are due May 12, 2017. The “Call for Entries” can be found on the BAGSC website Exhibitions page and in the Members Only section. Questions on the exhibition? Please contact Janice Sharp. Questions about the 20th Anniversary Celebration? Please contact Gilly Shaeffer.

bagsc20thCMYKWe are looking forward to sharing a beautiful afternoon and evening with members, friends, family, special guests from the Los Angeles botanical gardens community and more. We hope all will join us for this magical anniversary celebration.

 

by Deb Shaw

The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden has announced the schedule for Cristina Baltayian’s Botanical Art and Illustration classes.

Each session meets four (4) Tuesdays per month, from 10 am – 2 pm (includes lunch break) in the Oak Room:

January          10, 17, 24, 31
February        7, 14, 21, 28
March             7, 14, 21, 28
April               4, 11, 18, 25
May                 2,   9, 16, 23
June                6, 13, 20, 27

Cost: $275 Arboretum members per month; $295 non-members per month (includes Arboretum Admission)

To Register please call the Education Department at 626.821.4623 or pay at the class.

These classes explore color pencil, graphite, pen and ink, and watercolor on various papers, vellum and other surfaces. The emphasis is on plant observation, drawing, composition, color theory and matching, and medium techniques. In conjunction with the Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California, students will be studying and portraying many of the Arboretum plant introductions from the last 50 years. The goal is to build a collection of paintings that will celebrate and document the invaluable contribution of the Los Angeles Arboretum to the state of California.

The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden is located at 301 North Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007, 626.821.3222.

by Ted Tegart, Education Manager, LA Arboretum, and Deb Shaw

93341e17-7042-4d54-98fc-3154362a8b38Jerry Turney is back for his final Tree ID class of the Fall at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden with a new set of 20 trees.

Tree Identification
Dr. Jerrold Turney, Instructor

Saturday: December 3, 2016
10 am – 12 noon
$25 Members / $35 Non-Members (includes Arboretum admission)
To Register please call the Education Department at 626.821.4623 or pay at the class

Do you know the trees of Southern California? We have one of the most diverse urban forests in the USA. This final two hour lecture will cover 15-20 tree species followed by a walk in the Arboretum to see the trees that were covered during the lecture.

Dr. Jerrold Turney, plant pathologist and certified arborist, will teach you to identify trees, their growth habit, their native country, how they should be cared for, any common diseases or insect pests that attack them, and the best place in your garden to plant them.

The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden is located at: 301 North Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007.

About the instructor
Dr. Turney has served as the curator of the camellia gardens at the Huntington Library and Botanic Gardens, a research horticulturist at the Los Angeles County Arboretum, and is currently the plant pathologist for the Department of Agricultural Commissioner/Weights and Measures for the County of Los Angeles.

by Jude Wiesenfeld and Deb Shaw

Kathie Miranda, Strelitzia spp., Bird of Paradise, colored pencil on film. © 2016.

Kathie Miranda, Strelitzia spp., Bird of Paradise, colored pencil on film. © 2016.

Kathie Miranda had been slated to give a workshop at the Weird, Wild & Wonderful Symposium at The Huntington, but unfortunately couldn’t make it due to a sudden family emergency. BAGSC is pleased to announce that Kathie will be coming to Southern California to teach Colored Pencil on Film at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in January, 2017:

Tuesday, January 24 – Thursday, January 26, 2017
9:30 am – 3:30 pm each day
Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Bamboo Room and Oak Room
Maximum Registration: 16 students

Cost, BAGSC Members: $300
Non-Members: $330

BAGSC Special Discount: receive 10% off

BAGSC is offering a special discount for Kathie’s workshop:

  • New BAGSC members receive a 10% discount for a total cost of $270
  • Current BAGSC members registering for the workshop BEFORE December 12, 2016 receive a 10% discount for a total cost of $270

Mylar is a wonderful media for colored pencil, and allows the artist to work on both sides of the film. Visit the new BAGSC website to view the full workshop description, costs, directions, and information, and to download a PDF materials list: http://bagsc.org/index.php/classes/kathie-miranda

Kathie’s Weird, Wild & Wonderful Symposium workshop filled immediately, so don’t delay on this opportunity to learn Kathie’s techniques and to receive a substantial discount!

About the Instructor

Kathie Miranda is an award-winning artist, juror and educator of botanical art. She teaches at The Art Students League, NYC and the New York Botanical Garden. She is an active member of the Connecticut Watercolor Society and the Colored Pencil Society of America.

by Cordelia Donnelly, posted by Deb Shaw

On June 4, 2016, BAGSC members had the wonderful opportunity to tour Cordelia’s garden, home and view her artwork. It was an enlightening meeting, and one that has generated a lot of discussion about our connections to place and garden, water conservation, design and aesthetics. Pacific Horticulture magazine published an article by Cordelia in their fall, 2016 issue, entitled, “My Horticultural Odyssey: An interdisciplinary approach to designing my garden“. This link goes to the full article, with images of the garden (a few of which are reproduced below).

Cordelia wrote the following for BAGSC News publication. Thank you for your work and inspiration! —Deb Shaw

Standing stones in the completed front garden are reclaimed Kansas fence posts, pieces of ancient ocean limestone bed, used to mark farm boundaries in a prairie ecosystem lacking trees.Photo © 2016, Cordelia Donnelly.

Standing stones in the completed front garden are reclaimed Kansas fence posts, pieces of ancient ocean limestone bed, used to mark farm boundaries in a prairie ecosystem lacking trees. Photo © 2016, Cordelia Donnelly.

Water scarcity is shifting the paradigm of how to live and garden in Southern California. I completed my first garden renovation in San Marino in 2011 in order to close the building permit for a 1926 Spanish house renovation on a plot of land measuring 57 by 119 feet. A childhood of extensive blue water sailing across the South Pacific with my family prepared me well for these land-based adventures in engineering, science, law, code compliance, community design review, culture, horticulture, garden aesthetics, craftsmanship, and storytelling. Water was finite onboard our boat, and this set the stage for my interest in water conservation, reclamation and recycling. My garden teaches continuously and its story is still unfolding to my wonderment, to 1,200 visitors and counting.

I was educated in liberal arts in the true sense: fine art, applied design, education, ecology, land and water management, and writing. Work in these fields helped me recognize the potential significance of this interdisciplinary garden voyage. It is said that writing is thinking. Now I have learned very well that gardening is thinking. My garden design involved ideas about craftsmanship, where form follows function. I prioritized this garden design around water use, including capturing and redirecting water, and gradually practicing deep and infrequent watering as plants’ root systems get established. A site condition, such as the pronounced slope in the front yard, lends itself very well to growing Proteas and Banksias.

The chemistry of water enables life. Life in its diversity has adapted on Earth to different states and forms of water. Yet, we live in a remarkable age of science when it is theorized with high probability that the most common form of precipitation in our universe does not exist as water, but as diamonds, raining down on planets such as Saturn and Jupiter. While concepts of valence, polarity, surface tension, and cohesion describe atomic and molecular attributes of water, they also describe the human condition. We are One—with Water!

Plants, cyanobacteria, and algae, too, have special relationships with not only water, but also with light and darkness, in oxygenic processes to manufacture chemical energy. Science has discerned how these organisms have customized their methods of photosynthesis, for example, to explain why Agaves using CAM (Crassulacean Acid Metabolism) reactions are so well adapted to desert climates. To give an idea of the atmospheric scale significance of oxygenic processes, it is estimated that if such oxygen-giving processes by these life forms were to halt, the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere might run out in a few thousand years. Discoveries are unfolding about significant anoxygenic processes found in various bacteria, which rely on chemical conversions in water, without sunlight but with other kinds of radiation, since the visible spectrum is only one type of light. The diversity and virtuosity of these mechanisms suggest that other planets in our universe may indeed contain very strong forms of Life.

Recently, Dr. Dianne Newman at Caltech has discovered, in the new field of molecular geomicrobiology she created, that bacteria in ocean sediments photosynthesize using iron instead of water. It is appropriate to be awed by intricacies of today’s science, which are uncovering some of the most ancient survival mechanisms on Earth, and spurring innovations in medicine by attending to how natural systems work. Furthermore, she has applied geoscience to solving a problem of chronic medical infections in humans. Dr. Newman has found that in a chronic infection such as cystic fibrosis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa (a long studied bacterium) produces pherazines which promote biofilm development in the lungs, inhibiting pathways for antibiotics to clear such infections. Logically understanding that the growth of P. aeruginosa is controlled in nature by a natural mechanism, she then searched for and found both P. aeruginosa and a coevolved bacterium, just in the soil outside her lab!  This coevolved bacterium produces an enzyme which is able to degrade pherazines produced by P. aeruginosa, thereby rendering a chronic infection by P. aeruginosa more treatable by antibiotics. Human therapies for chronic infections based on her research will be available in a decade! It is time to bring our awe back to our gardens and to think of native plants as forms of technology—which are already adapted for our current climate conditions.

This garden project required extensive research. Attending a course taught by Lili Singer at Theodore Payne convinced me to rip out the conventional grass lawn as a first step. Ruth Shellhorn’s climate appropriate landscape design in 1982 for my parents’ home had also influenced my thinking about the potential for this garden project. My mother gave me Thomas Church’s Your Private World. San Marino’s Planning Department supported my renovation ideas, for which I am grateful. Government entities play a primary role in implementing sustainability, and California has made major changes to its Building Codes, which will soon become much stricter. But tensions certainly exist because of the need for change, and certain laws soon may apply sustainability mandates to all homeowners, not just to those renovations and new construction.

Antique wrought iron gates and several cloud form cast metal panels from a disassembled Chinese pavilion in Bel Air were found on Craigslist and repurposed in the finished landscape as gates and wall pieces. Photo © 2016, Cordelia Donnelly.

Antique wrought iron gates and several cloud form cast metal panels from a disassembled Chinese pavilion in Bel Air were found on Craigslist and repurposed in the finished landscape as gates and wall pieces. Photo © 2016, Cordelia Donnelly.

My project demonstrated to San Marino how garden beauty can be created using concepts of sustainability. I did not pour cement in the front yard garden because cemented hardscape is viewed as unsustainable—and thus also avoided design review. Concrete for my house renovation was poured only where required by Building Codes. As a foundation for steps leading into the garden from the street, green-treated wood beams are skewered into the slope by steel rods, a method used for building steps on hiking trails in US National Parks. The next layers use Stabiligrid tile, clad with copper as the riser material, hardwood planks for treads, finished by quartzite pavers set in sand. A liquid acrylic polymer was used to harden the sand while also providing permeability.

In the spirit of sustainable recycling, I tried where possible to reclaim assorted left-over or salvaged materials from craigslist to use in this project. The antique terra cotta riser tiles in the backyard are from France, by way of a tile setter who had completed a project in Malibu, and advertised his extra tiles on craigslist. Luckily, I also bought a pair of antique wrought iron Chinese gates and several Chinese cloud form cast metal panels, from a contractor who had disassembled a Chinese pavilion in Bel Air and listed these materials on craigslist.

I felt a solidarity with my Chinese neighbors, who supported me from the very beginning. I decided to align my aesthetic values for this project to honor the rich heritage of Chinese gardening. Chinese landscape design’s majestic history brings together Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist influences. The spiritual depth appeals as much as the aesthetics, and the interdisciplinary wisdom thrills. This path of mastery involves concurrent mastery of poetry, calligraphy, and landscape painting—understanding the influences each of these disciplines has on the others, thus making a garden a living vignette of nature’s lyrical beauty. I fell in love with the idea of views in a Chinese garden unfurling gradually to the viewer, much like the scrolls of a Chinese landscape painting. The viewer takes a journey through such a garden in order to enjoy the different vantage points.

One of my goals in renovating the house was to make the house relate directly to the garden, and this new relationship can be enjoyed through a series of large windows, including the very large arched window in the living room, and three different sets of glass sliding doors looking out onto different garden views. As the sun travels throughout the day, the house itself becomes the garden sundial. I intuitively planned my garden design for the passage of light across the various spaces, influenced by my years of landscape painting. I sought consciously to unify the values of the green colors of plants in order to allow texture and temperature to operate to the eye—this is a strategic lesson from painting applied to gardening.

Another major influence on my thinking was the Mediterranean Garden Society/Pacific Horticulture 2010 Symposium at the Los Angeles Arboretum. This Symposium’s speakers, the local garden tours, the gorgeous Australian plants grown by Jo O’Connell, and conversations with people about gardens changed my life, within the already transformative context of researching Chinese gardens. These experiences convinced me to install drip irrigation for the entire garden. “Woolly Pockets” I saw at the Symposium helped me create vertical gardens on walls and balconies, and further online searches led me to “Smart Pots,” made of recycled plastic bottles, to use as larger containers. I decided to use Australian native plants for my garden upon seeing their poetic textures, remembering them from my childhood, recognizing their symbolic otherness, and their significance to plant evolution and the geologic history of our planet. These plants evoke ideas held in the Dreamtime: origin stories of creation, ancestral voices, relationships between humans and nature, and spiritual quests toward Oneness.

A dry stream bed, using native granite rocks rescued from the basement excavation, invokes the memory of water in this native landscape. Inspired by Jeffrey Bale’s colored pebbles, I used polished coral pebbles in the bottom of the stream bed as a color contrast to the pea gravel on the garden paths. When it rains, the dry stream becomes very colorful. I planned the stream bed to cross the front garden approach, in an informal X, as in X marks the spot on a treasure map. Here, too, is the satisfying idea that one must cross over the stream on the journey to the front door. This spring I was very pleased to take my mom on a driving tour to see eight neighboring gardens installed since I completed this one, in which the homeowners chose a similar theme of dry stream bed crossing the front path approach in an informal X. As an artist and designer, I think asymmetry plays a very important role in leading one’s eye through a composition, whether in a painting or in a garden. The front garden was made more mountainous by adding soil to match the slope of the neighbor’s garden, as allowed by the Grading and Drainage Permit. The aim was to create a relationship between mountain and water, and to honor the spiritual significance of this relationship as articulated by Confucius. Another practical goal was to raise the soil level because hedge height can be measured from the higher soil level, and furthermore, because specimen plants can be grown here without a height limit to cushion the front yard garden from the busy street.

A sound sculpture in the front garden activates with rain. Water is harvested from gutters on the house and garage and pumped into the sculpture before draining through a perforated drainage grid. Photo © 2016, Cordelia Donnelly.

A sound sculpture in the front garden activates with rain. Water is harvested from gutters on the house and garage and pumped into the sculpture before draining through a perforated drainage grid. Photo © 2016, Cordelia Donnelly.

An integrated drainage system, the first of its kind to be permitted in my city, orders this garden universe. My sister gave me Brad Lancaster’s Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, which I used to do the engineering to secure a Grading and Drainage Permit. This plot of land is blessed with incredibly advantageous riverine geology, once part of extensive orange groves, and a slope of 4-1/2 feet from the backyard to the front yard. She encouraged me to add a unique water feature to the drainage system, and reaching beyond exhaustion, I resolved to think carefully about this. So, I designed a “sound sculpture” in the dry stream bed. Rainwater flows passively from house and garage gutters, collects in an underground basin and is pumped up into the sound sculpture. Sufficient rain creates the sound of rushing water in the sound sculpture. Then this water drains passively underneath the entire front garden through a perforated drainage grid. A key feature of the sound sculpture is that it only works when it is raining. Another aspect of its design was to stack a series of quartzite flagstones on top of the sound sculpture basin, to create a Goldsworthy-like nest form in order to hide the brownish rain gutter water from view.

Permeable gravel surfaces finished with StabiliGrid tiles hold gravel in place and provide ADA-compliant wheelchair accessibility for the driveway and garden. Photo © 2016, Cordelia Donnelly.

Permeable gravel surfaces finished with StabiliGrid tiles hold gravel in place and provide ADA-compliant wheelchair accessibility for the driveway and garden. Photo © 2016, Cordelia Donnelly.

The permeable gravel driveway was finished with Stabiligrid tiles to hold the gravel in place. The Stabiligrid tiles filled with gravel also give the driveway and garden ADA-compliant wheelchair accessibility. Indeed, less concrete used in my whole garden renovation allows greater permeability: there is no runoff from the property. An outdoor soaking tub stands dry and covered, relies on zero chemicals, and is tied into the drainage system. A backyard pond is designed with an herbaceous border and contains chemically treated water. This pond drains itself separately from the drainage system, and is designed to drain passively into a deep french drain. Integrated drainage systems have been built since ancient times across diverse civilizations, and at different levels of complexity and cost. Even if we are not building drainage for an extensive palace, such as that found at Knossos on Crete, and at Machu Picchu in Peru, we need to do whatever we can to save water. These ideas are ancient, but feel new to our suburban gardening culture.

Recently, I installed an Australian-designed, gravity-fed, gray water drip system. I specified an Aqua2Use gravity filter with IrriGray drip components, which is distributed by WaterRenu.com in the USA. My system satisfies CA Building Codes and involves no modification of existing plumbing. It allows upstairs bathtubs to drain into the garden, via manual siphon into heat-proof Pex pipe going through the exterior wall. This drainage into my garden is encouraged provided that only low-sodium, pH neutral, bio-degradable soap is used (Dr. Bronner’s). To avoiding over-watering with supplementary water, this system sends water to general front garden beds, instead of to specific plants, and serves the major purpose of allowing this water to infiltrate back into the land.

Reflecting upon this garden odyssey, these journeys within journeys, I realize I have honored not only great cultural and aesthetic traditions, but also those of my ancestors. My great grandfather and grandfather developed diverse industrial uses of diatomaceous earth, an ingredient in the cactus mix I use for planting. I also have honored my parents:  my mother, a teacher, and my father, a builder-developer in Pasadena, California. This garden honors a growing global awareness about the need for sustainable water use and climate appropriate plants in every garden.

It is a miracle to witness how beauty transforms awareness, invites conversation, and inspires!

NOTE: BAGSC News previously published a plant list from Cordelia’s beautiful garden. Click on the words “plant list” in the previous sentence to view it, along with some pictures from the tour.

by Ted Tegart, posted by Deb Shaw

Trees at the LA Arboretum. © 2016, LA Arboretum.

Trees at the LA Arboretum. © 2016, LA Arboretum.

Dr. Jerrold Turney is back at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden for his second Tree Identification class of the Fall. Dr. Turney has a completely new set of 20 trees to cover this
Saturday, November 5, 2016
10 am – 12 noon
$25 Members / $35 Non-Members (includes Arboretum admission)
To Register please call the Education Department at 626.821.4623 or pay at the class.

Southern California has one of the most diverse urban forests in the United States. This class will cover about 20 different trees on each of three Saturdays for a total of 60 trees. Each two hour lecture will cover 15-20 tree species followed by a walk in the Arboretum to see the trees that were covered during the lecture. Register for one or both remaining classes.

Jerry Turney, plant pathologist and certified arborist, will teach tree identification, their growth habit, their native country, how they should be cared for, any common diseases or insect pests that attack them, and the best place in the garden to plant them.

The last class will be held Saturday, December 3, 2016.

Questions? Contact LA Arboretum Education Manager Ted Tegart via email or by calling 626.821.4624. The LA Arboretum is located at: 301 North Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007, 626.821.3222.

Dr. Turney has served as the curator of the camellia gardens at the Huntington Library and Botanic Gardens, a research horticulturist at the Los Angeles County Arboretum, and is currently the plant pathologist for the Department of Agricultural Commissioner/Weights and Measures for the County of Los Angeles. 

by Susan Eubank, posted by Deb Shaw

Peacock! Plant! The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden is hosting an Open Art Exhibits Call at an:
Artists’ Open House at the Gallery in the Arboretum Library 
Saturday, January 14, 2016, 1-4 p.m., and
Saturday, January 28, 2016, 1-4 p.m.

Logo for the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Gardens.

Logo for the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden.

There’s a new art space in town and the Arboretum Library is looking for artists. This open house is to encourage artists of all media to view the newly renovated Arboretum Library exhibit space and the Arboretum grounds for inspiration. Details of exhibit requirements will be discussed at the open house.

The first exhibition will run March 1 – June 30, 2017 and will use the word “Peacock” as the inspirational word for the exhibition. All media will be considered.

The second exhibition will be from October 1 – December 30, 2017 and will use plants as the theme. All media will be considered.

Deadline for art submissions for both shows is February 11, 2017. Proposals to exhibit should include at least three (3) digital scans or images of the proposed art, no larger than a total of 9 MB, submitted via email to Susan Eubank. A jury of art and plant professionals will choose the exhibiting artists and artworks. Artists will be notified by February 15, 2017. Solo shows or collaborative groups will be preferred.

Past exhibits in the Arboretum Library include: Karen Hochman Brown’s Kaleidoscopes, the Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California, and a Multicultural Weaving Exhibit. The Library contains a comprehensive collection of resources on gardening, botany, California native plants, and environmental issues as these subjects relate to the plants native to and planted in Southern California. This includes books, e-books, magazines, government documents, pamphlets, and audio-visual materials.

Light refreshments will be provided. Please RSVP to the Arboretum Librarian, Susan Eubank, by email, or by calling 626-821-3213 to attend the open house or to ask questions about this open exhibit call. BAGSC members may contact Janice Sharp with questions or comments; Janice is BAGSC’s liaison with the LA Arboretum.

The LA Arboretum is located at: 301 North Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007, 626.821.3222.

by Deb Shaw

Cristina Baltayian will continue her monthly series of botanical art classes at the LA Arboretum through the Fall:

4 Tuesdays per session per month
10am – 2pm (includes lunch break) / Oak Room

The Fall session dates are:
October 4, 11, 18, 25
November 1, 8, 15, 22
December 6, 13, 20, 27

Costs are $275 for Arboretum members per month / $295 non-members per month (includes Arboretum Admission).

To register, please call the LA Arboretum Education Department at 626.821.4623 or pay at the class.

These classes will explore color pencil, graphite, pen and ink, and watercolor on various papers, vellum and other surfaces. The emphasis will be on plant observation, drawing, composition, color theory and matching, and medium techniques. In conjunction with the Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California, students will be studying and portraying many of the Arboretum plant introductions from the last 50 years. The goal is to build a collection of paintings that will celebrate and document the invaluable contribution of the Los Angeles Arboretum to the state of California.

The LA Arboretum is located at: 301 North Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007.

by Beth Stone, posted by Deb Shaw

Passion Flower study, Olga Eysymontt, © 2008, all rights reserved.

Passion Flower study, Olga Eysymontt, © 2008, all rights reserved.

It’s time to register for BAGSC Founder and Member Olga Eysymont’s next series at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden. Registration is through the Otis website. Here’s the link: http://www.otis.edu/ce-course?crs=828

Don’t worry that the class description on the Otis website reads the same as Olga’s previous sessions. Olga says “For my returning students, I will be giving them other projects to work on.”

New students will explore the subject of plant families, with the goal of demonstrating both correct representation of the specimen, as well as a good compositional design. An emphasis on correct placement of light on form will be emphasized, in order to produce an authentic and realistic illustration.

“Botanical Illustration: Plant Studies,” in graphite, will meet for six Sundays, from 9:30 am – 3:30 pm, beginning Sunday, September 18, 2016,  and then on the following five Sundays: October 2, October 16, October 30, November 6 and November 20.

Registration

Register online through Otis College of Art and Design Continuing Education. All classes will be held at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden. The course is non-credit, although certificate and credit options are available for additional cost.

The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden is located at: 301 North Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007.

Workshop Discounts

A $50 discount on the course registration is available until August 21. Senior discounts also are available; check with Otis to see if they can be used in combination with the early registration discount.

Class Materials:

14″ x 17” Strathmore Drawing Pad Series 400, Medium or equivalent. (You may use another brand, but please, no sketch or recycled paper.

14” x 17” Medium Weight Tracing Paper (any brand)

Drafting Pencil with Holder and Sharpener

HB and 2B leads (at least 2 each)

Eraser Stick

Erasing Shield

Drafting Brush

Mars Drafting Dots (masking tape)

Portable Task Light (Ott-Lite)

(Vis a Vis wet erase fine point marker, Clip, 8″ x 10″ Plexi and 8″ x 10″ format supplied by teacher for $10.00)

by Bonnie Born Ash, photos by Janice Sharp, posted by Deb Shaw

On Saturday afternoon, July 16, 2016, a festive opening reception for “Capturing the Arboretum: the Art of Botanical Illustration” was held in the newly renovated Arboretum Library. Participating BAGSC artists were Cristina Baltayian, Bonnie Born Ash, Diane Nelson Daly, Estelle DeRidder, Nancy Grubb, Cynthia Jackson, Arillyn Moran-Lawrence, Marilyn Parrino, Mitsuko Schultz, Janice Sharp, Deborah Shaw, and Beth Stone.

Artists and guests enjoyed viewing twenty-three fine works of art depicting plants of the Arboretum. Individual works were enhanced by comments from Jurors James Henrich, Arboretum’s Curator of Living Collections; Arboretum Librarian Susan Eubank; and Olga Eysymontt, Botanical Art Teacher. In addition, artwork signage gives the specific location in the reference library to find additional information on each plant illustrated.

Throughout the reception, Estelle DeRidder and Mitsuko Schultz demonstrated botanical art techniques. Additional artist demonstrations are planned in the Library on two Saturdays, August 27 and September 24. The exhibition continues through December 29. Many thanks to our jurors, volunteers, and congratulations to all participating artists!

Library Location
The Arboretum Library is located within The Arboretum. Go straight through the double doors on the left (east) of the entrance rotunda.

Library Hours
Tuesday-Friday 8:30 am to 5:30 pm
Saturday 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
Sunday 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Susan Eubank, Librarian
Phone: (626)821-3213
Fax: (626)445-1217

The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden is located at 301 North Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007.

Click on an image below to enlarge and view through a slide show format.

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