Physical Los Angeles

Say it ain't so, Smaus

Retired L.A. Times garden editor Robert Smaus has moved to the Pacific Northwest and says goodbye to the soil of Rancho Park in a piece today. He's probably advised more backyard gardeners here than anyone.

After friends and neighbors, I suppose what I'll most miss is the dirt. Gardeners will understand....

It had been a lima bean field -- the whole of Rancho Park was. I like to think the good soil also had something to do with the pleasant neighborhood that sprouted there. Surrounded by Century City, Westwood, Cheviot Hills and Santa Monica, little Rancho Park was like a small town in the middle of a very big city when we first discovered it. We noticed how many children were outside playing, a very good sign, we thought.


We grew citrus, of course, because they are so useful and hang on the tree ripe and ready for months. We had a lemon, a juice orange, a blood orange (also for juice) plus a delicious tangerine (technically not mine because it hung over the fence, but we secretly watered it) and an avocado (also not mine).

I gave up on the apricot, and the peach was sadly short-lived, so I replaced them with more ornamental trees, which in turn, were replaced after a few years with several powerfully fragrant sweetshades (Hymenosporum). Who could resist their siren call?

Look how much redder the drought profile of Southern California has turned since the last time Smaus came up at LAO in February.

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