The Compulsive Gardeners Class, a sold-out gardening class hosted by the LA Arboretum, included the Authentic Foothill Gardens as one of its Fall 2017 programs.
Class members include garden enthusiasts who travel from throughout the LA area to attend, first met at the Arboretum to discuss the vision behind the gardens. Designers Cassy Aoyagi and Isara Ongwiseth of FormLA Landscaping outlined their approach, which requires unifying a community’s modern aesthetic with the look and needs of its authentic natural environment.
“In Southern California, we’ve become disconnected from what is natural and authentic to this place. Many associate LA with imported foliage – palm trees, cacti, birds of paradise, roses. The truth is our natural look is lush, leafy, and treeful. That is very compatible with Sierra Madre’s modern aesthetic,” noted Ongwiseth.
Class members then toured the gardens.
FormLA Landscaping President Cassy Aoyagi detailed the gardens’ intended impact as attendees walked paths through the vibrant, blooming gardens. She emphasized the control residents have in preventing what are often viewed as inevitable natural disasters.
“Each feature and plant supports Sierra Madre and the region’s resilience,” said Aoyagi. “We want our gardens to act as sponges to prevent flooding – bioswales and planted space address that need. We need to avoid invasive, flammable plants and choose natives that thrive in our high heat and natural rainfall. Those choices mitigate fire danger.”
The tour was coordinated by Suzanne Haller, a member of the Compulsive Gardeners, the Sierra Madre Garden Club, and a resident involved in bringing the gardens to life. Haller noted, “People need to understand just how much we can accomplish with our gardens. I’m hopeful others will be inspired to follow Sierra Madre’s lead.”