Photo by Katharine Rudnyk

After over 20 years working at a couple of garden centers, a wholesale nursery, and volunteering at a botanical garden, I’ve always wanted to use my skills in horticulture around Downtown Los Angeles.

“What if I build a pollinator pathway through Broadway?
“What about a bioswale down 5th Street?”
“Vine art on the Convention Center!”

Now I get to dream with the dreamers at AHBE Landscape Architects, professionals who bring these same type of big ideas to life! Urban horticulture is definitely a new term and career opportunity for people interested in caring for plants. As people hunger for more plant life within urban environments, specialists will be necessary to insure their sustainability and survivability.

The history of urban horticulture has evolved from the care and maintenance of community gardens within a city setting to a more dynamic urban link between the science, design, and the maintenance of plants. Limited availability of irrigation water, tall expansive shade making buildings, and expensive real estate plots are forever present in the city center of Los Angeles. With that said, becoming a team member of a design studio has made my discussions about on-going urban horticultural challenges quite lively.

MLK Medical Center Campus master plan. Image: AHBE Landscape Architecture

MLK Medical Center Campus master plan. Image: AHBE Landscape Architecture

You would never imagine the challenges a design studio debates over before planting a single tree, shrub, or flower, all with the goal of creating a slice of paradise along a city sidewalk. We consider a dizzying amount of details: whether a tree will drip sap onto people underneath, determining how tree roots will grow and affect features on the surface over the years, how to incorporate natural biological pest control – like ladybugs – to protect the planting area from aphids, strategizing how to direct pedestrians and pets onto paths and away from trees and plants, figuring which plants are best for keeping the pollen count low, and choosing water efficient groundcover that smells fragrant and keeps the tree’s roots shaded without the need to be pruned every Wednesday. In sum, it’s not as easy as you thought, right?

Now your experience will become even more enjoyable because urban horticulture and landscape architecture have teamed up.

Besides survivability, urban horticulture in Los Angeles has another challenge: permanency. According to Otis Report on the Creative Economy 2015, every 1 in 6 jobs in Los Angeles are employed by the creative economy. Large industries within the creative economy include entertainment, fashion, and publishing. Creativity definitely brings change, and does so quickly.

Landscape architecture in Los Angeles County has definitely been affected by new creative waves of design to save water, build lucrative and fashionable outdoor living work/play opportunities, combat against devastating pest problems, and improve city food production inside a median strip. An urban horticulturist needs to react to those quick transformations quickly while also being respectful of the beauty that nature has to offer after years of establishment.

I am looking forward to growing a wonderful partnership with landscape architecture, all in the hopes to help everyone experience beauty, sustainability, and the rewards of urban life through the partnership between horticulture and landscape architecture.




Post a comment
  1. Regina O'Brien Wronske #
    September 8, 2016

    The new job sounds challenging and fun- both sides appear to be mutually lucky!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Katharine Rudnyk #
    September 9, 2016

    Regina, thank you very much. I am so glad you enjoyed the article, too. Every day there is a new horticultural design challenge for myself and my professional colleagues. Pushing the envelope is never easy, and we have a great team effort with our clients’ support to go out and do just that. Appreciate your support.


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