On January 11, 2011, I will stand before Santa Barbara's City Council and respectfully ask them to stop all new landscaping projects, at least until they can get their, ahem, organic fertilizer together.
They're heading in the wrong direction.
Tip of the Iceberg
An unpredictable chain of events began a few weeks ago when I saw the disturbing new planting at a public building. It got my blood flowing, not in a happy sort of way. Initially, I was elated that I had something to rant about here at Edhat, but I ended up writing about the sorry condition of our once-glorious parks. (Read my last article) I promised to let you in on the location.
The new planting in front of the Louise Lowry Davis Center (corner of De la Vina and W. Victoria) misses the mark on several levels. The big thing is that it just doesn't make sense with this building.
The Davis Center -- a small, stately, not-very-Santa-Barbara civic building -- is now fronted by a visually noisy collection of plants that might make sense in someone's back yard, but looks absurdly out of place here -- an example of "one-of-each-itis."
Plants that will grow six-feet across are planted one-foot from their neighbors. Freestanding Pyracantha (able to eat tall buildings in a single bite) are lashed to stakes, biding their time. Sun-loving, low-water-using plants intermix with others that would be happier in the understory of a cool forest somewhere outside of Seattle. Partly funded by the Water Conservation Division as a low-water-using demonstration garden, it's nothing I want home gardeners to learn from. If it survives, the Parks crews will have their hands full, taming the chaos.
Hearts were in the right place. On the heels of the very successful butterfly garden at Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens, a crop of Master Gardeners came looking for another project site, knocking at the Parks Division's door. "Oh boy! A free design for a building recently spiffed up, but in need of horticultural TLC," they must have thought. The weak link, as I wrote in my last article, was that there was no one at Parks to scrutinize the design. And it somehow skirted the normal design review process, which might have improved the outcome.
Okay, I'm done flinging nasty bombs. It's fixable. Unfortunately, the Davis Center is just one symptom of a malady requiring immediate action.Now read my heartfelt plea...