AG: What are your responsibilities at Arlington?

AJ: I am the part time Communications Manager and Volunteer Program Manager. I am also an occasional event producer, very infrequent emergency gardener, regrettable emailer, etc. etc. etc. I write and edit our newsletter and other publications. (Did you see our Botanical Guide? I wrote that.) I also facilitate our Volunteer Committee and put together some extra special volunteer events.

AG: How did you discover Arlington?

AJ: I had been trying to volunteer at local botanical gardens and had been finding it rocky terrain to travel – some gardens near me (not naming names) made volunteering with them difficult. You have to know someone already on the inside, or so it seemed to me, in order to get off the waitlist.

At that moment in my life, I had never heard so much as a whisper about Arlington Garden. Against staggering odds, a friend of mine had recently started working there and invited me to stop by to volunteer. I did. I enjoyed my time and something–I don’t remember what: the dirt? the folks?– got me to come back the next week. Time did its mysterious thing, and here I am.

Although I guess I did know someone “on the inside,“ volunteering at Arlington does not require any networking. It was – and remains – a very open place. You should stop by to volunteer!

AG: What is something you like about Arlington?

AJ: A disclaimer: this isn’t the Garden’s official line. I have to be careful because I do write about Arlington for Arlington. But to me the garden is a beautiful skeleton enfleshed by, um, visions. (It is not the Garden’s official line that we are any sort of skeleton.) To list just a few, there are visions of the founders, the designer, the Executive Director, the neighbors, and the original Director of Horticulture. There are dreams from our current gardeners, other staff, volunteers, donors, native plant nerds, local botanical clubs, and so many more. It’s diverse but unified, extremely improbable, and most importantly overflowing with life.

If you sit quietly on a bench with no one around, you’ll start to hear the life around you. It’s a little unsettling, to be honest, but a clarifying sort of unsettling.

Aesthetically, it might be my imagination, but the Southern California light looks different in the garden. I imagine it oozing bioluminescent out of the trees and from behind sages.

AG: What is your favorite plant in the garden?

Coast live oak. It’s also a gardener! It changes the land around it – the soil, the temperature, the light conditions – allowing a bunch of stuff to grow that otherwise couldn’t survive.

AG: What do you like to do outside of Arlington?

I’m a long-time amateur gardener who recently grew many mediterranean climate bulbs ( xerics of the dry summer). I recently moved to Seattle, so I’m currently reading about growing dry alpines (the xerics of the frozen-hence-dry winter) and trying to figure out how to haul tons of rock and gravel to my new backyard. 

AG: What do you envision for the future of our Southern California landscape?

To quote the philosopher Feyerabend who paraphrased Mao, “let a thousand flowers bloom.”

Liberté! I’m a committed classical liberal about landscaping! Whatever our landscapes do they should largely protect our native ecosystems and promote human health, but I envision a great diversity of ways to get that result. The danger is stifling orthodoxy. 

AG: Tell us something else about yourself!

Folks, I have square toes.

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