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L.A. Garden Show favors edible landscapes

'Festival of Flavors' is the theme at the L.A. County Arboretum.

May 02, 2009|Mary MacVean

Laramee Haynes said he planted his showcase garden for the L.A. Garden Show from a wheelchair. He wanted to be sure it could be done.

"Countless people tell me they don't garden anymore because of knees, hips, whatever," he said.

A large circular planter that rotates on a truck axle, lazy Susan-style, is surrounded by two arc-shaped boxes -- all of them high enough for a gardener in a wheelchair to pull up and tend to the tomatoes, herbs and lettuce that he planted.

Taking note of the renewed interest in victory gardens and landscapes that are both pretty and tasty, the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia set "Festival of Flavors" as the theme for the annual show. About 15,000 people are expected to attend the event, which runs through Sunday, arboretum spokeswoman Cynthia Vargas said. The event includes children's activities, a beer garden and marketplace. Workshops in composting, permaculture and small-space gardening will be held.

Haynes' garden was one of eight installed for the show. The circular planter is 8 feet in diameter and sectioned into eight triangular boxes. Small plants were placed closer to the gardener, to make sure no tendrils draped over the edge and caught the wheelchair. Haynes decided against pole beans or corn because they might be too tall to tend.

Across the lawn from Haynes, John Lyons and Marco Barrantes built a garden amid a labyrinth of concrete pieces. Lyons said the garden was meant to evoke tranquil images of monks walking labyrinths as they meditated.

The philosophical aspects of gardening also appealed to landscape artist Matt-Dell Tufenkian as he planned his showcase garden, "a talisman to the power of plants," with a brick walkway in the shape of a "tree of life" and plants that were edible and medicinal, such as mint and parsley.

"So many of our ornamental plants are used in Chinese medicine," he said. "People in the past didn't have the luxury to grow something just to take up space and be pretty."

-- Mary MacVean

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L.A. Garden Show

When: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today and Sunday

Tickets: $2.50 to $7

Where: Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, 301 N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia

Information: (626) 821-3243, www.lagardenshow.com

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