By Jeff Hutchison
Holy shit it rained in Los Angeles today! I had just wrapped up an early morning meeting and went to step outside and, much to my delight, there was a drizzle washing over everything outside. I raced back to Flamingo to bask in the garden after the rain . When you live in a semiarid climate like Los Angeles, rain is a cause for celebration. When it rains in LA, I make sure to have a bath.
You may have seen images of our bathing cathedral, but the real secret at Flamingo is the outdoor bath in the goat shed. An old clawfoot tub is perched under the porch with the most beautiful view of the northwestern exposure of the orchard. Layers of lavender, plums, rosemary, olives and lemons ascend up the hillside all framed by the wisteria that winds its way around the porch. Watching the rain soak into the soil is something that uplifts my spirit and renews my hope for a greener tomorrow.
In Los Angeles, we’re in the midst of a serious drought. Our rainy season is typically from November to March with an average of 14 inches of rain. This year we saw only about 4 inches in the garden. For the last 9 months or so Richard has been ringing our ears with his favorite phrase: ABUNDANCE! I have been thinking to myself, how do we talk about abundance in the midst of a drought?
But then I thought about our soil. How it’s teeming with life and has the capacity to make the most of the least as a thirsty sponge ready to soak up every last drop of whatever rain might come.
In my last few Field Notes I have talked about cover cropping, mulch, and being gentle with soil. All of these practices are ways of ensuring the earth is ready and resilient. When soil is healthy and alive with microbial life, it’s able to soak up as much rain as possible and provide the most nurturing conditions for whatever seeds come its way. On the other hand, when soil is left bare, tread on and neglected, it becomes hard and unaccepting of water. Plants struggle to establish themselves. It doesn’t take much of a stretch of the imagination to extend these lessons to people and all other walks of life.
While I feel a certain degree of anxiety around the drought conditions we are facing here in California, I am reassured by the fact that at Flamingo Estate we, and all the farmers, growers and producers we work with, make it a priority to nurture the soil, and have thus made ourselves ready to make the most of what comes.
In solidarity with caretakers of the earth everywhere,
Director of Flamingo Estate Garden & Horticulture