The Vertical Gardens of Los Angeles

Photo by Anne Hars

Like Emily Green of the Los Angeles Times I’m a vertical garden skeptic, especially in a dry climate. That being said, artist and master gardener Anne Hars and I found a successful, though unintentional, vertical garden in our neighborhood while walking her dogs yesterday. The plant you see above is growing through a drainage hole (the level of the ground behind the wall is where you see the plant growing). Makes me wonder if this particular design could be done on purpose, given the appropriate context. The plants, in this hypothetical drainage hole garden, could act as biofilters, absorbing excess nutrients and toxins. Slap a trademark on it, form a non-profit and Bob’s your uncle.

Extra points to the person who can i.d. the common weed growing through that drainage hole:

Maybe Anne and I will go back, cross out the gang tags and spray paint the scientific name of the plant once one of you identifies it for us.

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17 Comments

  1. I hate that weed! It grows everywhere in my front yard in Oakland. When you try to rip it out it feebly breaks apart leaving its base to grow stronger and it spits out a bazillion seeds nearly year round.

    Ive always searched for what its called, secretly hoping there was some medicinal purpose for it, but have never found its name

  2. epazote? At first I thought it was lambsquarters but it doesn’t look quite right.

    I guess this would be an example of “extreme gardening” to go with your “extreme housewifery” then?

  3. I forget the name but it is one that I often pick for my chickens cause they love it. Novella Carpenter mentions the name in her book “Farm City”.

  4. Hmmm….the stem looks like purslane, or maybe spurge, but the leaves aren’t quite right…sticky weed? amaranth? nightshade?
    I give up….

  5. You guys are doing really well despite the photo. If Erik wanted an ID he should have spread out the leaves for you!

    But it’s definitely not chickweed, lambs quarters or epazote. It does have a bit of nightshade vibe. But it could also be an amaranth we’re not familiar with.

    Thankfully, our wise foraging friend Nancy Klehm is coming to town soon, and we can ask her.

  6. This is great…but if you leave the gang tags and add your own, maybe you can somehow encourage the gang members to participate in something more constructive than tagging!

  7. Joel, you did it! Thank you!

    The troublesome weed we have in the Bay Area is indeed parietaria juadaica (Western Pellitory) and I think that’s what was photographed in the wall as well. Its apparently in the nettle family so it might be edible. Our chickens gave it a resounding “meh” though

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