LETTERS FROM THE GARDEN
In part two of our two-part interview, Mayita Dinos (the designer of Arlington Garden) discusses what drew to her garden design, her journey from Puerto Rico to Europe and then back to the US, and shares some reading recommendations.
AG: Can you remember the moment you decided to become a garden designer?
MD: I remember that moment very, very well!!
It was 1971. I was floundering in college, not being able to decide on a major. For Mother’s Day, my grandmother gave my mother three bare-root fruit trees for the backyard. My mother asked me not to get her anything, but instead, to plant the trees for her. I agreed to do that; I was skeptical about their survival, because they seemed quite dead to me — brown twigs with no leaves!
Time passed…I wasn’t spending much time at home, so it came as quite a surprise when one day I walked into the backyard, and saw the trees were covered in green leaves and flowers. It seemed like a miracle. I just kept thinking, “I made that happen”! It was as powerful a feeling as a spiritual epiphany. In fact, I like to think of it that way! It was very spiritual, and I wanted IN. So I decided to become a landscape architect, and applied to the University of Wisconsin, Madison. read more…
Photo credit Markus Spiske.
Resilience Gardening is a new feature during the pandemic in which Director of Horticulture Leigh Talmo gives tips to new gardeners interested in regenerative gardening. This month, we discuss starting a new balcony container garden.
AG: What is the first thing to do to get started with a food garden? What if you only have a sunny balcony?
LT: If you are gardening on a sunny balcony, you will need some kind of container. Get creative with this! You can build a box, reuse a shipping crate, or repurpose old nursery pots. I have even planted in a recycled French Horn! Almost anything will work, so long as you put good soil in it. The most important thing is to grow your food in healthy soil.
Michelle Matthew, Executive Director of Arlington Garden, reflects on Earth Day, and what we can learn from garden during the pandemic.
This year marks the 15th Anniversary of Arlington Garden and the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. But this Earth Day, April 22nd, we were closed. Our events have been canceled, and our efforts to celebrate have been postponed.
I know that there are many other anniversaries and celebrations being recognized in isolation, including congregations of ritual and gatherings to grieve and mourn. If anything, this pandemic is forcing us to acknowledge the importance of community and open space. Many of you may be walking more, driving less, meeting your neighbors, reaching out to your friends and family, and figuring out ways you can still connect. read more…
Arlington Garden was designed as a series of interconnected garden “rooms” showcasing mediterranean-climate plants and sustainable gardening techniques.
Its layout is intentionally labyrinthine. Secret chambers of flowers flicker into view between agaves, appearing unexpectedly behind switchbacks in garden trails. This layout makes it possible, says the garden’s designer Mayita Dinos, to wander and “imagine you are not even in a garden but rather … in a field or a nook in a forest.”
In part one of a two-part interview for Arlington Garden’s 15th Anniversary, Mayita Dinos, the designer of Arlington Garden, discusses the design process, construction, and the early days of the garden.
AG: The site that became Arlington Garden was purchased by Caltrans as a staging ground for the 710 freeway, but it sat empty for decades after community opposition halted construction. What did the lot look like when you started designing?
MD: It was a veritable weed lot that the City would mow down several times a year. There were a few mature trees that remained from the original Durand mansion: several palms, a jacaranda, a pepper tree, and a couple of oaks. In short, it was a wonderful blank canvas for me to play with.
Arlington Garden broke ground 15 years ago on an empty lot with a smattering of beautiful old trees and little else besides trash. The first addition to the site was mulch to improve the soil. And, appropriately, the rest of the garden grew up from that.
But how did those beautiful old trees end up in this otherwise empty lot? read more…
Arlington Garden is pleased to announce that we are celebrating our 15th anniversary throughout the 2020 calendar year!
In light of the pandemic, the garden is working with Board Vice President Kim Jacobsen (our Anniversary Planning Chair) to create a slate of innovative new remote programming for our anniversary. We are developing a variety of entertaining events, including educational activities for children and regenerative gardening tutorials for adults. People wishing to learn more about our evolving anniversary programming are invited to subscribe to our newsletter or bookmark this website.
The images directly above show the site of the garden before planting began in 2005 and as it is today. They make vivid the amazing transformation that occurred in the garden in a mere 15 years! read more…