Last week over a dozen HPGC members visited Grown in LA (GiLA) nursery in Griffith Park. At the March meeting, the club awarded a GiLA a grant to further their efforts to literally grow plants for LA in LA. It turns out that most plant materials for local projects comes from outside LA often as far away as Oregon.
Grown in LA is working to create a network of nurseries on underutilized sites in the LA region. Given the growing need for native plant material for public properties, including sizable LA River restoration projects, and the fact that there are very few nurseries providing local plant material, GiLA hopes to help fill this need. HPGC grant funds will toward developing the propagation area of the 11-acre old Commonwealth Nursery in Griffith Park.
Our tour was let by Katherine Pakradouni, who serves as the nursery's only full-time staff member is single-handedly growing thousands of plants from seeds collected in Griffith Park and other local places. She explained how she processes the seeds, sterilizes the pots, develops the potting mixes and then nurtures the seeds through various stages until they are ready to shipped out for local projects. HPGC members helped prune, weed and repot the seedlings. We hope to return soon to help Katherine process seeds.
There's still work to be done formalize the operation but the hard work of planting and growing was taking place before our very eyes.
Pakradouni explained it's much better to collect local seeds because the plants have already adapted to our local climate and it adds to the biodiversity of our plant supply. Getting all the seeds from a handful of seed suppliers doesn't make good biological sense she explained.
GiLA is going back to a practice employed by the city when it first developed. The Commonwealth Nursery in Griffith Park grew all the plants for local projects around the city and county until the 1970s when it was shuttered for a variety of reasons.
GiLA is helping to renovate the site so it can be brought back to life through plant production, research, education, and demonstration. Our HPGC grant will help keep Katherine working for GiLA and growing plants.