How quickly bunch grass turns to agapanthus

Bunch grasses in Hawthorne update. Redacted excerpts from actual emails.

From: Mr. Somebody
To: Me
Subject: FW: RE: Marine Ave. / Prairie
Date: Fri, 9 Mar 2007 17:48:46 -0800

These are the plants.

Strelitzia Reginae “Bird of Paradise”
Agapanthus Africanus “Lily of Nile”
Raphiolepis “Ballerinas”
Pittosporum tobira “Wheelers” dwarf
Pittosporum Tobira Variegated
Trachelosperum Jasminoides “Star Jasmine”
Ice Berg Roses
Gazenies Ground cover

Thank you for your time and please call me if you have any questions.

My response:

I noticed that many of these don't meet your previous request for low water usage. I'm concerned, too, that there are many plants listed: In order to keep a sense of continuity I'd limit the selections to fewer plants, no matter what plants you go with. Otherwise I think that the planting will risk looking choppy.

Is it too late to ask for a couple substitutes? None of these below will require large amounts of water after they get established in the first or second year.

For Gazania (I think there may be a typo in your memo) I would substitute Blue-eyed grass, Douglas Iris, or ceanothus "Yankee Point", all low water plants once established and all flowering plants.

For Agapanthus I would substitute Leymus condensatus, "Canyon Prince" (giant wild rye) or deer grass (muhlenbergia rigens)

For the Wheeler's Dwarf Pittosporum I'd substitute another appropriately sized ceanothus, perhaps Ceanothus impressus x papillosus "Joyce Coulter"

For the variegated Pittosporum I'd substitute the Yankee Point ceanothus, if you didn't use it in earlier or maybe even a salvia - perhaps Salvia clevelandi (nice blue blooms) or the nearly indestructable Mexican sage.

I know the iceberg roses tie in with other plantings of iceberg roses in the City, so I'd leave those, maybe grouped together to make a bold statement as you cross the City limit. Maybe use a tight grouping of bird of paradise between the roses and the other plants or maybe drop it. I'd drop the star Jasmine altogether - ceanothus will get the job done and make a more cohesive statement.

signed, Me

The reply:

From: Mr. Somebody
Subject: RE: Marine Ave. / Prairie

This was a landscape architect that came up with this design I was told.
-Mr. Somebody

I'm not sure if I should laugh or cry. What sort of landscape architect uses agapanthus and Wheeler's dwarf pittosporum in this day and age? Aren't those so 10 years ago, even for exotics?

At least they're using the Ca Sycamores.


  1. Redondo Beach has a list of "approved" plants, a palette for the landscape architect. They can only use the allowable colors. Sad, isn't it?

  2. I was going to disagree with you, based on the wonderful job N. RB had done along the Artesia and Inglewood median strips: decomposed granite ground cover with appropriate Ca natives artfully arranged. Now it's all been removed except for the manzanita and replaced with a little landing strip of turf grass. Grass is for playing. Who's going to play on the median?

    Maybe we can float some paper boats in the new and improved runoff from the sprinklers and race them down the storm drain to the ocean.

    Sad isn't quite comprehensive enough.