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Having a sense of the city's style

Guest Column

June 23, 2010|By Larry Moss

This column is about landscape architecture and how we in La Cañada relate to its uses at home and the city we live in.

We need to have passion to care enough about what we design and create for our neighborhoods and main thoroughfares — especially the central city that we see every day — and the compassion to want to do the best we can to create beauty.

The common expression in City Hall, "You can't regulate taste; each to his own," is a copout. Certainly we should have a sense of style, encourage the uses of different materials and plant species and guide people to those who can provide explanations on how to correctly use them.

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What landscaping is best used with which architecture? If you have a contemporary (modern) building you think simple, classic materials; if the building is Mediterranean-style, there would be more drama — larger, bolder materials. A house that has an English-country-home style might have hedges, climbing roses and borders of perennials.

The style of architecture must come first. The garden shouldn't compete, nor should the driveway. Have you noticed how local driveways seem to have been taken over by those silly-looking paving stones that don't relate to anything? The hunger to create a lasting landscape seems to have gone by the wayside. Ornamental grasses are put in whether or not they work in a particular garden and drought gardens are installed in places they don't belong. Though it's about time we started to conserve, it took a severe drought and water shortage to make us see how to use different landscaping styles

Having said that, the fact is we are not in Arizona. This is not the desert, even though it is a semi-arid area. We have the mountains, the valleys, the oak woodlands the riparian and the chaparral surrounding us. So, with such a variety, almost anything goes. Of course that isn't always good, because there's so much to choose from. That's why thoughtful planning is so essential.

Trees are probably the most important and yet the most understood because there are so many varieties. There are some communities that savor trees and truly care about them, but in this community being a tree can be a precarious life. They are chopped, topped, butchered and severed until there's nothing left. Only so often do you find a tree person who really cares.

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