As landscape architects we are kept perpetually busy with creating drawings, coordinating with other disciplines, and seeking out vendors for products for our projects. It is all too easy to forget what is at the core of why enjoy about our profession: the utter beauty of the natural world and how it changes throughout the seasons.

Photo: Jennifer Salazar

Spring officially arrived in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago on Monday, March 20th, at 3:29am PST to be exact. Springtime’s arrival in Los Angeles is announced by a characteristic and ever-present perfume: the sweet smells of citrus blossom and the aroma of jasmine wafting on the light breezes of warmer days and evenings. “Springing forward” with daylight savings has affords us extra daylight to enjoy these blooms into the early evening in our neighborhood when their presence is at their most palpable.

We were fortunate to finally have enough rain this past winter. Because so, many plants have had proliferate blooms in the last month, inducing the stunning displays of native flowers exploding across the Anza-Borrega Valley and other wildflower regions. Another consequence of the heavy rains was a proliferation of weeds as well. They’ve covered our backyard kitchen beds, as shown below.

According to a recent KCET article, there are a number of edible weeds. Alas, I needed room for my kitchen plants, so I didn’t take the time to harvest my weeds this year. These past few weekends my family helped me clear all of the weeds and amend the soil to replenish the exhausted soil.

Planting will be the next step. This year, I want to try the indigenous practice of planting the Three Sisters: corn, beans, and squash. Corn creates a natural trellis on which the beans grow. The beans add beneficial nitrogen to the soil, and the squash spreads out on the ground, keeping moisture in the soil while also shading out weeds. Of course, we also will plant our requisite Southern California backyard tomatoes as well.

This year I plan to plant more colorful beneficial flowers around the edges such as marigolds and nasturtiums. I love their bright colors in the hot summer sunlight. These lovely flowering plants are supposed to ward off pests too, including the dreaded horned tomato worm (Ugh, whenever I find these critters or any grubs in the soil, I pitch them onto the top of our carport as a treat for the birds that visit our yard).

And, yes, my kitchen garden dreams continue, still with hopes one day a bountiful garden harvest will result in a picture perfect spring or summer feast to share with friends and family like this one.

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