We’re at the Los Angeles Arboretum in Arcadia, California, giving a presentation to the “Compulsive Gardeners”, a wonderful group of knowledgeable and dedicated gardeners whose enthusiasm is boundless.

 It’s interesting to be back. I (David) used to work here, in the Research Division, just after finishing my PhD. It was my first professional position and I loved all the exotic plants from Mediterranean climates around the world. And, of course, the peacocks!

tabebuia and peacock

Back then there were a lot of peacocks on the Arboretum grounds, and they’re still here after all these years. The peacocks and peahens are wild animals that live at the Arboretum and forage through the neighborhood. They’re big birds and their raucous calls are very loud. It’s amazing to see them fly up into the trees to lounge about and rest. The flamboyant tail plumage of the male birds is so huge it seems impossible that they can fly. And yet they do!

berm & swale

The grounds surrounding my old Research Division sport a brand new Permaculture demonstration garden featuring berms and swales. Swales are ditches dug on the contour to capture rainwater. The soil removed from the swales is piled up in mounds (or berms) adjacent to the swales and planted with a variety of fruit trees (citrus, banana), vegetables, and herbs. All the plants get watered when the swales fill up with water every time it rains. A drip trickle system waters the garden in between rains.


The Arboretum grounds feature exotic ornamentals grouped by region of origin. Many plants of Madagascar are spiny, and some look a lot like the boojum from Baja. Like Baja, Madagascar has extensive desert regions with plants adapted to extremely arid environments.


Australia is another part of the world with an extensive Mediterranean climate. Plants from these climates (summer-dry, winter mild and moist) do well on the pacific coast of North America where we normally receive no rainfall during the summer months. The Pacific Northwest is too cold in winter for many tropicals but they flourish in California.

south africa

South Africa also has a Mediterranean climate and its flora features many beautiful flowers. Ever notice that the five major areas of Mediterranean climate are also the premium wine growing areas of the world? The med, of course, and California, but also Australia, South Africa, and Chile. Beautiful flowers and great wines. What could be better?

 If you have a favorite spot we should not miss, please let us know. We invite you to share your stories of the greenworld, and welcome you to join us at one of our stops on the road. See our events page for all the details (www.ddandkw.com/events)

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