More photos here:

The foothills changed every few seconds this morning to reveal new views, new surprises. All the photos on flickr were taken within an hour of each other.


Thanks to Lawren Markle for the reminder of this afternoon event to hit before you head over to the one year anniversary party at The Ale House at 5pm!

Old Marengo Park at Woodbury and Marengo will be dedicated as an Altadena Heritage Area thanks to the efforts of
the Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy being honored by Altadena Heritage. It’s just one worthy effort local groups are making to preserve open space in the foothills. The following is from the  Old Marengo Park release:

Located on the border of Pasadena and Altadena, the park is planted with native trees and plants to demonstrate how low-water gardening can succeed. In-ground catchment basins allow heavy rains to seep down quickly to
recharge groundwater, rather than flow into storm drains and into the ocean. As more landscapers utilize these features, drinking water is conserved, water quality at the beaches improves and heavy rains soak in and do more good.

Funding was provided by Los Angeles County Regional Park and Open Space District, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Neighborhood UU Church, Foothill Municipal Water District, and donations from many supporters.

The park was made possible by the work of many people, including area residents. Altadena Heritage recognizes not only the hard work AFC, but the work and donated services of many supporting partners like Mountain View Cemetery, Pasadena Water and Power, J. Harold Mitchell Co. of Altadena, Rain Bird Corporation, Mark Goldschmidt
Design, and PB Construction. Special thanks to L.A. County Supervisor Michael D Antonovich, Altadena Watershed Committee, and Altadena Heritage, along with former AFC board member Rick Carron, AFC board member Michelle Markman, and the tireless Watershed Committee chair Michele Zack who was instrumental in the success of
the park.

“It’s a small park, but it makes a big impact on the area,” said John Howell, AFC’s executive director. “We hope people will enjoy seeing how native plants can be used wonderfully in our gardens, and get ideas about capturing and saving water.”

For a more detailed history of the park, you can read AFC’s newsletter from 2008 here;

Since working on the park, AFC has also completed a major successful acquisition of 41 acres in Rubio Canyon, Altadena, and is working to preserve more open space in Pasadena, La Canada, La Crescenta, Altadena, and the neighboring foothills and arroyos.

To learn more or to donate, visit You can also contact AFC executive director John Howell at 626-796-3004, or

About the Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy

Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. Founded in 2000
as Altadena Foothills Conservancy, its project area now encompasses the foothills and
communities of Pasadena, La Canada-Flintridge, Glendale and La Crescenta, along with
Altadena and adjacent areas.

AFC works to preserve natural open spaces, protecting scenic landscapes, native plants
and wildlife, streams and water, and trails and historic sites. It collaborates with property
owners, governments, land trusts, private donors and other stakeholders to acquire,
restore, protect and maintain these natural areas.

People, we do have power. Don’t forget that.

From: Arroyo Seco News <>
Date: Tuesday, March 1, 2011, 4:27 PM

The Los Angeles County Supervisors today approved a motion instructing the County Department of Public Works to conduct a full environmental impact report on the sediment management program at Devil’s Gate Dam and Hahamongna in the Arroyo Seco. The motion, introduced by Supervisor Mike Antonovich,  included a provision that Public Works staff report back to the Supervisors within 90 days on short-term measures that might be needed to ensure the functioning and safety of the dam. Supervisors Antonovich, Zaroslavsky and Ridley-Thomas supported the motion. Supervisors Molina and Knabe abstained.
Just a month ago, it seemed a foregone conclusion that the DPW would proceed without an environmental review on the basis of an Emergency Declaration. But then a storm of public concern about the 170,000 trucks and pollution and habitat destruction as well as the fallout from the destruction of the Arcadia Woodlands changed the whole picture.  The Save Hahamongna petition, which collected over 540 signatures in just a few weeks, focused the opposition tactically, and the Pasadena City Council waded in on Monday night with a resolution supporting Supervisor Antonovich’s motion.  At the Supervisors’ Meeting this morning, the County Counsel indicated that it was now the intent of DPW to pursue the project based on a maintenance exemption rather than an emergency declaration, but all the wiggling and persuasion of the Public Works managers was not convincing to the majority of the Supervisors.
Today’s victory is the first step in ensuring that Hahamongna and its nature as well as the local neighborhoods are protected. A very important step in the right direction!  We are sure that everyone, including the County, will come out winners from a better program that includes the evaluation of impacts and alternatives and fully involves the cities and stakeholders.
Congratulations to everyone involved.   Let’s party!

The crowd turned out at Kidspace by the Rose Bowl, in the beautiful Arroyo Thursday night for the Arroyo Verde Awards given by the Arroyo Seco Foundation.

Tim Brick led the festivities which included awards to:

  • The Hahamongna Bloggers for Best Advocacy (about 25 of us blogged on the same day to protest development plans in the Hahamongna Watershed Park) below JPL
  • Foothill Municipal Water District for Greening the Arroyo–Agency
  • Urban Semillas and Miguel Luna for Greening the Arroyo–Organization
  • Arroyo Green Team, Audobon Center for Volunteers
  • Nolan Pack and PCC Student Government for Citizen Activist
  • Michael Cacciotti, mayor Pro-Tempore, City of South Pasadena (great remarks!)
  • Highland Park resident Virginia Neely for a Special Award for her historical record-keeping and assistance to many
  • Nicole Possert for Lifetime Achievement

 See my earlier post for the list of Hahamongna bloggers, and add to that Steve Scauzillo

Thanks for the great party! So nice to be recognized! And hats off to Petrea Burchard, Karin Bugge, and Barbara Ellis who hatched the united blogging idea.

While we all got certificates, Petrea’s in possession of the festive froggy award that glows in the dark! That should keep her hoppin. And thanks to new friend Robert for taking a slug of these photos.

Here are some pix. They’re also on flickr at

Greetings, I’m coming back online a bit at a time. Thank you to all who have been so kind and sent so many gifts and good wishes.  I certainly didn’t expect to suffer a loss like this, but it’s amazing to have so many friends at hand.

This weekend there are a lot of wonderful things happening around town. I’d hope to participate in the Gallery at the End of the World Altadena Artists Home Tour, but the time isn’t right. So go to the Gallery tonight and tour the houses this weekend!

On Sunday, attend the Altadena Heritage Golden Poppy Awards t see who has won for their sustainable/beautiful gardens. 4-6p.m. at 1101 Altadena Drive. $20

Ok, that’s it for now. My husband’s memorial is July 18 at Farnsworth Park where we were married, so I’ll write you after that!

Happy 4th!

Art on Palm, Altadena

9:30 a.m.−5 p.m.

1419 E. Palm Ave.


One of the great things about a community with personality, namely Altadena, is the incredibly creative people who live here. Two such people, Catherine Cowles and Mary Jane Elgin, started what has become a regular event, Art on Palm.


Catherine says, “about five years ago Mary Jane and I were talking about selling our artwork. I mentioned that since she had a fabulous home on 1439 E. Palm Street—which she recently sold—she had the perfect setting to sell her work. She said she wasn’t interested in doing a solo show. My heart sank. But she said she would do one to include other artists if I helped her. Joy!


“We began with about 11 artists; friends from our clay class and a jeweler. The show was a hit. It had a nice vibe, fabulous location and supportive and interested community. Since then we’ve slowly added artists whose work we admire.”


The show took on a deeper cause after the war began in Iraq. “We decided to ask our fellow artists to contribute five percent of their sales to the West L.A. Fisher House Foundation.” (The West Los Angeles Fisher House provides housing for family members of veterans while they are undergoing long term care at the VA hospital.)


“When Mary Jane sold her large home, we were concerned about the future of our little venture. But she approached neighbors Maryrose Smyth and Mark Pickett and they graciously invited us to use their lovely canyon garden. The coming show is our 11th and we’ll have about 31 artists.”


Maryrose and her husband Mark Pickett are holding the show in their secluded enclave, called Wildwood Park, designed by Henry Green in 1920. I stumbled on this area a couple of years ago when out shooting photos of local gardens. I felt like I was in a national park with its rustic homes, outdoor fireplace, and trails. In fact, it was designed as a hunting lodge. Maryrose and her husband bought the house at 1419 E. Palm about six years ago, and didn’t stop there.


 “Mark and I had one house, and we bought the house next door when the owners moved. We never thought we’d get the chance.” Maryrose and Mark didn’t want to take the chance of someone moving in who didn’t have artistic sensibilities.


“We’re raising two boys here. It’s the perfect, wonderfully childhood dream environment. And we have lots of neighborhood children.”


She says most of the artists have known each other a long time, and have ties to Creative Arts Group in Sierra Madre. “I come from a tradition of realism, and now I’m more out on a limb, painting more personal interior landscapes.” No doubt her environment is having an influence on her work. “It’s quiet, green, lush. Feels like you’re not in an urban environment.”


The show features a wide array of artists in tents and at tables. “There will be works on paper in all media, photography, a whittler, two or three are potters, and jewelry. Last time we were in the field and it was hot, now everybody will be under the trees, and circle the properties.”

Refreshments provided by Jones Coffee Roasters of Pasadena.  

You can check our Maryrose’s work at

Other participating artists:

Stephani  Anderson 
Jane Asari

Erica Batchelder

Janet Chico

Catherine M. S. Cowles

Ellen Dinerman

Mary Jane Elgin

Bill Haske

Lynn Hendricks

Jim Heuston

Stephen  Johnstone

Beverly Jones

Susan Kromka

Elizabeth Manak

Betsy Miller

Dana Sue Miller

Katherine Nakazono

Detra Prete

Cathy Reichel-Clark

Di Yamamoto Skowron

Anne Sears

Susan Spinks

Kathleen Swaydan

Anna Vosburg

Lys Wilcox

Bruce Wilson

Kaylie James Wilson

Stephen Woodruff

Hitomi Yamamuro

Lucia Yang

I’ve posted pix of the early August Altadena Wants a Co-op garden party at Michele Zack’s on flickr

The proposed new name is Arroyo Food Co-op. The next fete is September 5. Big community meeting coming up October 10.  Show your support and check out details at Wish I had more time to write a long story about this. More when I can.

August 29 is the date for the next Altadena Heritage event. Topic: Irrigation. Many say water availability is in danger and we need to do what we can to conserve. Find out what you can do.


Pop your head into yards in Altadena and there’s no telling what you’ll find. Sunday, Altadena Heritage held its Golden Poppy Awards Sunday at the home of Kazi Petelka and John Steinmetz, on Mar Vista. And in their yard you’ll find a few dozen chickens among the crops of fruit and vegetables. Part orchard and part farm, this urban spread is what people mean when they say “urban farm.” Pumpkins are even growing on the roof.

Kazi, a first violist with the L.A. Opera, gave teaching tours of the property to dozens of eager students drooling over the packed avocado trees. I was sorry to learn she offs the poor squirrel who gets in her way, but we all have our own karma to deal with said my unusually understanding pal, who has been known to keep an orphaned baby squirrel warm in her bra until she could get it to a rescue center.  Farming is a sometimes brutal business.

I’d say about 100 Altadenans enjoyed the cooler early evening atmosphere, grateful the event was moved back from 4 p.m. when all would have wilted.

Four residents were chosen to receive the Golden Poppy Award, this year given to those with sustainable gardens. Chair Mark Goldschmidt explained the new criteria, which also resulted in an $11,000 grant from Edison to promote sustainability. Mark also presented the awards. I was unable to get all the names, but I’m attaching a number of photos. One couple, Jennifer and Ham, live just down the street from me. They’re the ones with the farm in their front yard that I’ve been meaning to visit. So now we’ve met. I’ll be getting down to see their yard up close very soon.

Patrick Reagan was out touting the benefits of having a co-op in Altadena. And in gardening spirit, bags of iris rhizomes were out for the sharing. Richard Davies promised a major event in late October at the Mosoleum, so stay tuned. Hoping it doesn’t involve the dead, being so near Halloween.

 Here’s my new blog in Digital Photographer Magazine on Politics and Photography…the Power of the Picture.
And here’s the magazine cover, with my photo of a glorious Orient Express epiphyllum that bloomed recently in my backyard. Bought it at the Huntington cactus sale about 4 years ago. Got first bloom last year, and three this time around, two simultaneously. What a sight.
Go ahead, subscribe! It’s an online publication delivered through

Dozens of nurseries and growers once inhabited the hills of Altadena. And if it wasn’t for Pasadena fighting to have the 210 freeway go thru their town, our last remaining nursery would have disappeared long ago. Thankfully, Nuccio’s famed camellia and azalea nursery on Chaney Trail does still remain, and today hosted the Altadena Heritage Society’s Breakfast of tea, coffee and treats, featuring Julius “The Nuch” Nuccio and friend and Altadena historian Michelle Zack.  

In their beautiful location since 1946, “The Nuch” told a gathering of more than 50 flora and history buffs how his family came to start the nursery in 1935.  It was all because his father and nephew gave their gardening obsessed mother a camelia. “She got them interested in plants. She didn’t care if there were dirty dishes in the sink, she’d be out in the garden,” he joked. Their initial nursery was kept in their grandparent’s yard during the war, cared for by the women of the family. Once that was over, grandfather said it was time he got his house back. “When we first got this property we thought we’d go broke,” said Nuccio. “I hated it. Worked here since I was 12. Tried another job for a month, but came right back.”

Wisely, his dad and uncle saw the trends in the nursery business and decided to specialize. They carry more than 500 varieties of both flowers, just a drop in the bucket of the thousands of varieties exist. Their two most famous are the Nuccio’s Bella Rosa and Pink Pearl. They still hand water and fertilize each plant because watering systems killed too many of them.

The soil secrets of both plants: Camellias take 1/3 soil, 1/3 peat and 1/3 pearlite. Azaleas take 2/3 peat and 1/3 pearlite. When the plants are blooming, they’re dormant. That’s when to move them if you need to. Prune right after blooming is complete.  

Nuccio’s has never advertised — yet last summer The Nuch said it was their best summer ever. That’s what growing a business is all about.

 More to come on this. Here are a few pix of the day…


Michele Zack


Don’t miss a chance to talk with the Nuccios about how your camelias and azaleas are doing. It’s a joy to have such a resource in our own backyard.

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