Nurturing Nature

Flavia PotenzaBy Flavia Potenza

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Nurturing Nature
photos by Flavia Potenza Above: Ground Squirrels at Work. Left: Mini Oak Tree Forest
The question of ground squirrels came up the other day talking to my neighbor, Allison, who huffed, rolled her eyes and glanced at her house. The critters are known to undermine houses, and like gophers and moles, are considered a menace to homeowners and gardeners. But Allison brightened and pointed to two large metal containers turned upside down on her lawn. Grabbing one, she hefted it towards her to reveal a pile of fresh dirt that filled half of the space. “The ground squirrels did this,” she said. “I discovered that both of these were filled to the top with soil. And here it is again! It’s a win-win. They found a home and I found fresh soil for my garden!” Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean they’re not also at work under her home. In my own yard, this year was a time of ankle-deep oak leaves that is part of the ecosystem necessary for the majestic Coast Live Oak tree that reigns over the yard and my little cottage. Much to my delight, it provides dappled shade year-round. I didn’t want to toss them in the green waste bin so instead I raked them into a pile that grew larger through the spring when I discovered a mini-forest of green-leafed oak seedlings coming up through the pile of leaf mulch, now about two feet tall and five feet long. Yes, it takes up most of the yard and is not decorative, but it is full of life! I mentioned it to Ellen Geer, Theatricum’s Artistic Director, who said, “Sell ‘em! I’ll buy one and plant it on the mountain here!” I think, however, it would be a good science project for Topanga Elementary whose mature oak forest disappeared a few years ago. The kids could pull up the seedlings — gently because their young tap roots go deep — keeping the leaf mulch around them, and plant them where the school’s oaks used to be. I also have some saplings about three-feet tall. We continue to celebrate Theatricum Botanicum’s 50th Anniversary with a find that Chronicle columnist Sarah Spitz discovered and passed along. “The Story of a Magic Garden” was featured in the July 29, 2022 issue of the Stratford Crier (Connecticut) about the American Shakespeare Theatre at a time in the mid-1950s when Will Geer performed there for about 10 years. It was here that Will Geer, who had a Masters degree in botany, created what was perhaps his first Shakespeare Garden. We have permission to reprint it , in part, along with our own story and photos of the Will Geer Memorial Shakespeare Garden at Theatricum Botanicum. (Pages 8-9) Speaking of which, Annemarie Donkin continues to review this year’s plays, this time Queen Margaret…War of the Roses, and provides some history of this lesser-known royal who witnessed in her life the tragedies that Shakespeare documented in Henry VI, parts 1,2, 3, and Richard III, from which Ellen Geer compiled for this version to present the history through the eyes of Margaret and other women of the court. (Page 10) Joel Bellman in his column, “Rude Interruptions,” tells a cautionary tale regarding L.A. City Council politics about government “reforms” that were rejected three times in the past, What makes them think the fourth time, will be “the charm.? While we in the unincorporated county don’t vote for city government, Bellman reminds us that all politics are already picking up steam for 2024’s presidential election cycle. It will be a time to pick your battles and hold on to your hats! Best to prepare sooner rather than later.(Page12) One word of caution: Rattlesnakes! (Page 4)
Flavia Potenza

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Thinking Out Loud

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