Descanso Means Rest

Boddy House, built 1939 in the Hollywood Regency style.  
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I've been thinking about my visit to Descanso.  An art gallery has been recently added, attached to the back of the Boddy house's original garage.  (Let's be more like the Huntington!The gallery was not built in the Hollywood Regency style, or in a contemporary version of that style, rather it displays the latest trends crammed into one: the vertical garden and the roof garden and the succulents and the Oudolf meadow. 

Why was I far more enthralled by the rare (here) Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica) than by the two-story vertical meadow?

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I wonder, how wise it was to add high-maintenance features like vertical and roof gardens to a publicly owned facility undoubtedly strapped for maintenance funds? 
We'll hide the old part of the garage with trendy Dodoneas!
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The Hollywood Regency style has a dignity and restraint I was not expecting. Boddy came from poor roots, but he didn't build himself a tasteless nouveau-riche mega-mansion, and in his later years turned from making money to growing plants, an idea I cannot help but think wise. 
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The funny irony of a roof garden and vertical garden is that despite their "green" and environmentally innovative intent, are they really more sustainable than undisturbed, never irrigated native oaks?  How long will it take for those trendy innovations to look naive and dated?  (Besides desperately in need of maintenance.)
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Do we find the 60's era Japanese-style garden at Descanso quaint and dated now?  Hmm.  Still looks decent...
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Do I look like I'm from the 1960's?
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Once a Koi, always a Koi...
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Boddy's intent in selling Descanso to the county was to have the beautiful place preserved for public visits.  (Interesting Descanso story here, with good details on the history of the rose garden.) Nowadays of course it would be a rare billionaire who thinks a garden would be a greater public good than a taxpayer funded NFL stadium, but the concept of civic improvement and publicly owned recreation extended beyond sports stadiums back in naive 1950.
Money required!
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The dilemma faced by Descanso is that The Public's idea of Fun Stuff To Do On The Weekend isn't the same as it was in 1950.  What's the big deal about a bunch of trees?  Back in 1950 Granddad might have likely been a retired citrus farmer, and walking the grand kids around talking about plants would have made for a lovely family Sunday.  How quaint that seems today!
Where's the sports court?  The baseball field? 
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 Publicly owned gardens must keep up the visits or face being sold off as--parking lots, shopping malls, and so forth.  Public officials eye a lot of potential money sitting unused by everyone but a few plant-loving wackos and some birds. 
Think of the NFL stadium we could have!
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Hence I suppose all the trendiness.  Get the visitors in.  Or else.  
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Money required!
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Bring in the donors! 
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Bring in the donors!
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Not a well-connected, influential donor, unfortunately.  It's just a plant:
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Comments

  1. The public garden struggle to bring in the bucks to stay alive is a distrubing trend these days. I'm sure many of us have local stories of similar garden "upgrades." Yikes! Where are we going and why are we in this handbasket?

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    Replies
    1. I think about that a lot. Disconnection from the natural world, too much other stuff to do, a general rejection of what used to be called "civic pride"--that which made people proud of how good their local library and parks and schools were, before somebody decided that teachers were parasites and poor children were "moochers". Sad handbasket!

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  2. As much as I'm into sustainability, the next new thing in gardening is only that. Your point about the undisturbed oak meadow is sadly true. If the Federal government wants to spend money on these things (such as they have just unveiled here in Portland) they can get away with it. When public recreational and cultural institutions do it, they don't have the safety net of support if trends move on.

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