Authentic Foothill Gardens Anniversary Event

Two years after residents, city workers, and FormLA Landscaping installed the Authentic Foothill Gardens at Sierra Madre City Hall, they have become a cherished resource and destination point.

“We regularly see kids coming through the garden with their parents, stopping to check on the plants they planted,” noted Rebecca Silva-Barrón, Acting Community Services Manager, City of Sierra Madre. “It also gets regular visits from Kensington residents on their strolls.”

Suzanne Haller joined an anniversary celebration hosted by the city, and described how the Sierra Madre Garden Club and Sierra Madre Community Foundation brought the project to life.

“Glenn Putnam had a vision for what this space could be. It took a lot of work to get people on board at the time, but this is it. We now have what he envisioned,” noted Suzanne Haller, whose work with the Garden Club was instrumental to getting the garden project started and funded.

Haller went on to note, “Elisa Cox, our assistant city manager at the time, was a very effective champion for the project. I’m happy she’s here to celebrate with us today.”

The anniversary celebration kicked off with a tour of the gardens led by its designers, Cassy Aoyagi and Isara Ongwiseth of FormLA Landscaping. Ongwiseth noted the care he gave to respecting Sierra Madre’s well established treeful, leafy aesthetic and the region’s history as a breadbasket, while Aoyagi noted the importance of plant selection to the resilience of the region.


 Aoyagi speaks to KABC about how plant choice at the Authentic Foothill Gardens helps Sierra Madre mitigate fire danger: 10-21 at 32:18

“This lush, leafy, green aesthetic is truly authentic to this region,” said Ongwiseth. “It unifies nature with our modern sensibilities and needs, our past and our present as a community.”

The garden also addresses practical needs of the city as well as the region. City of Sierra Madre Management Analyst James Carlson, who also represents the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel Valley Water Quality Group, demonstrated the importance of the gardens’ bioswale features to the region’s water quality. “The decisions we make now, here, impact everything from the quality of our drinking water to ocean health and whether or not we experience flooding.”

There are so many stories to tell here, noted Haller. “People need to know we can transform our communities.”

The Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants, the San Gabriel Municipal Water District, West Coast Arborists, and the US Green Building Council were all on hand to answer resident and visitor questions. The Sierra Madre Girl Scouts, many of whom helped install the garden, provided refreshments and joined the tour as well. 




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