Inside Arlington are the folks who keep us growing. In this column, we interview William Hallstrom, Garden Ambassador, who reflects on gardening, Arlington Garden, and himself.
(AG) What are your responsibilities at Arlington?
(WH) Too many to list in a short format interview? Okay, but for real, I was hired to sell marmalade, answer questions and interact with garden visitors, as well as keeping an eye on things in general. But I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot more. My favorite thing is that I get to have conversations on many different levels with folks coming to the garden, from casual chats with first time visitors just discovering us, to having more in depth discussions with our volunteers.
(AG) How did you discover Arlington Garden?
(WH) I grew up close to Arlington, so it’s maybe tricky for me to say for certain. I probably rode my bike through here when I was a kid. But I definitely rediscovered it in becoming a volunteer mid-pandemic.
(AG) What appeals to you about gardens or gardening?
(WH) Gardening is the easiest way that almost anyone can connect with the natural world around us. Gardening is something that I feel like I can do regardless of how I’m otherwise feeling.
(AG) What is one thing you like about Arlington?
(WH) One thing I like about Arlington Garden is how it sits at the center of a conversation about public garden spaces in the metropolis of Los Angeles. People may not know how to describe it when they first visit. Arlington seems to exist due to the occurrence of a number of unique phenomena and is like a hub for a diverse gathering of life.
(AG) What is your favorite plant in the Garden?
(WH) I don’t understand the question. I have to choose one? Well, maybe California buckwheat. We have many types including the regular Eriogonum fasciculatum that is a natural part of our local flora, and many others including the ever-popular Eriogonum grande var. rubescens. We have this lovely little buckwheat triangle just below the jacaranda.
(AG) What do you like to do when not working at Arlington?
(WH) Reading about many things, writing too and photography, getting lost out there on foot.
(AG) What do you envision for the future of our Southern California landscape?
(WH) I’m not exactly sure, but I hope it better reflects the reality of our climate and resources.
(AG) Tell us something else about yourself!
(WH) I know how to make mayonnaise from scratch without appliances.
Pictured above: California live oak photographed by William.