Sunday, April 22, 2012

EARTH DAY 2012 Claremont, CA

Earth Day 2012 is being recognized internationally today. 

My Claremont community had an Earth Day celebration yesterday, Saturday, with a variety of events.   Vendors and informational booths were set up throughout the several blocks area of our downtown Village.  

Demonstrations, workshops, children's events, speakers and information on sustainability were featured.   The city of Claremont and organizations devoted to sustainability organized the event.

I had planned to share my first hand impressions and experience but I decided not to attend, based solely on our unusually hot, well over 90 degree temperatures the past two days.   The prospect of walking about outdoors for several hours in even such low humidity heat has become considerably less attractive as I've aged.   I chuckle to myself as I've come to fully appreciate my mother's words many years ago, "The heat tires me."   There will be other interesting sustainability events in the future I can explore. 

Once grassy green lawns are being transformed into the more natural desert-like landscaping native to our area in my neighborhood, surrounding streets, and all over Claremont.   I've eliminated grass in my yard's parkway area (the strip between the sidewalk and the street.)   I have yet to decide what drought resistant plants I'll  install.    Several other yards have replaced all their front yard traditional green grass with a colorful variety of shrubs, decorative grasses, succulents, cacti and flowers.  Many Mediterranean plants thrive here.

One nearby house now has artificial grass that looks nice, but not what I would want.   There are considerable questions  about the eco-friendliness of synthetic grass.   Some of the cons are there's a wide variation in grass quality including rain water drainage issues.   The synthetic plastic grass is petroleum-based in a time when we want to use less oil, not more.    The product contributes to pollution deteriorating yearly, especially in high heat, emits toxic gases and will ultimately end up in a land-fill. 

I had always lived where watering grass wasn't necessary since Mother Nature sent her rain clouds frequently enough to keep the grass alive.  Only when I moved West did I encounter the grass-watering phenomenon.   The Phoenix-Scottsdale-Mesa-Tempe-Paradise Valley Arizona area which is truly desert had lots of homes with grass.  Some city areas had and still have canals running through communities.

Phoenix friends neighborhood canal had scheduled days when they turned their lock on and their yard would be completely flooded.  Often they would find crayfish left in the grass.  Golf courses were being constructed in surrounding city areas with more watering required which ultimately also increased the whole valley's humidity levels -- none too pleasant when the temperatures rose to 100+ and hovered in the 112 - 115 or so range.  

Initially, I was intrigued by the homes without grass that had chosen instead colored rocks -- green, sandy red, pink, or whatever shade you might choose.   I eventually tired of seeing those artificial-looking stones, much preferring our grass.  I haven't returned to the area for about a decade, but I would anticipate more grassy yards are being transformed into native desert landscaping.

Sustainability focus in my Claremont community has also included some homes establishing a series of small raised gardens for growing edibles.  Before my husband died I had several large pots with cherry tomatoes, and a few large lengthy rectangular pots in which I maintained a few lettuce varieties planted for staggered maturation.  I had also just obtained a small inexpensive plastic-type green house I thought I'd use on the patio during our winters, but I have yet to do so.

There are many sustainability ideas unique to each persons situation that would be enjoyable to learn about.   


  1. When I lived in California I had a lawn composed of sedum plants. Creeping thyme should make a nice ground cover too. I celebrate Earth Day every day. Love it. Dianne

  2. schmidley: Thanks for your suggestions. I've considered rosemary with it's attractive blue flowers, but I think now that I want plants requiring little, preferably no care. Our neighbor worked in her supremely manicured yard as well as did her gardeners. She planted some strategically placed brown bean sedum on a couple large mounds in her front yard -- very attractive, but she said touchy to grow and maintain. New owner finally replaced it as his gardeners couldn't maintain it properly, I guess.

    I think I want some open ground spaces in the parkway area which receives full sun. I'm considering some periodically placed stepping stones, alternating with plants that have minimal spreading ability, require little or no care. I've completely shut off the water sprinklers to the parkway so plants must tolerate some summer hot dry months. Some visitors park their car next to the curb so passengers have to exit on to the parkway. I would want plants there that people could occasionally step on if I had full ground cover.

  3. At an Earth Day gathering today we were given questionnaires on our conservation habits and items we would like more information about. My wish was for lots more guidance for landscaping using native plants, less or no grass, and no chemicals. All we see here in the Midwest is huge expenses of grass maintained with smoke-belching riding lawn mowers and sprayed periodically with all sorts of chemical concoctions. We could do better by following the lead of some of the people in western areas with scant rainfall.

  4. Dick: Seems like Midwesterners (where I lived many years) have more native plant options with more rain. Of course, you have limitations, too, with the snow, winter freezes. I do recall a friend in Central Ohio telling me she has had to water plants and lawn in recent years due to unusual drought conditions. Perhaps your inquiry will prompt more sustainability organizations to increase their exploration of native plant landscaping in your area. Probably more people and communities across the country will gradually become interested in such change. We're partly motivated because of the increasingly high cost of water, plus shortages necessitating conservation due to decreased Calif. mountains snow pack/runoff, lowland rains. Our Southern California city has not allowed gas-powered mowers, leaf-blowers, trimmers for several years, and will issue citations if they're used.

  5. I have always resented the way Phoenix has wasted water trying to look like back East homes. Tucson has been more ecological friendly and rock lawns with cactus and desert plants have almost replaced all of the crab grass lawns that were here when I moved to Arizona 48 years ago.

  6. Darlene: I'm glad to hear Tucson has responded to sustainability conservation issues as has been many years since I've seen that area, too, and even longer since I lived there. Yes, recreating the U.S. east look where many new residents moved from seemed to be the idea though Phoenix was in the middle of the desert. My Southern California city was pretty much founded with the same idea. For example, our original downtown Village streets are named Harvard and Yale near the 5 Claremont colleges, 2 university consortium plus an associated theological university.

  7. Joared, Darlene: When my late oldest brother moved to AZ from Duluth (to enjoy the heat!), he opted for Sun City West, which at that time kept more of the natural desert landscape around the houses. (Don't know what it's like now.) I am still offended by people who want to reproduce their sacred Midwestern lawns in a desert. Now AZs rivers are running dry.

  8. Xtreme English: Yes, I recall driving around Sun City when we lived in AZ and it was natural desert landscape. So many communities surrounding the central Phoenix-Scottsdale area were very small rural towns inhabited by locals, especially to the south, but the following years builders developed them, as they did Apache Junction east of Mesa and Tempe toward the Superstition Mountains, site of famed Dutchman's Lost Goldmine. I'm not sure what the predominate landscaping has become. North of Scottsdale, Carefree (home of Hugh Downs) and Cave Creek remained rugged. Comparatively, the American Indians knew how to live in and with the land, but once they were relegated to reservations, their forced life style change was not for the better.

  9. When I lived in Albuquerque, I had native plants (pinons, chamisa, etc); but, mostly rocks. It looked "at home" and required no watering once established.
    Cop Car