While early autumn was relatively dry in the Pacific Northwest, the rains arrived earlier than usual in California–but not before the conclusion of another successful Gardening Under Mediterranean Skies symposium. The skies were, indeed, beautiful for the event in early October. Enthusiastic audiences at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and at the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum enjoyed two days of inspiring keynote presentations and practical workshops on gardening in harmony with our climate.
When we began these symposia in 1998, we hoped to foster a greater understanding of the uniqueness of the mediterranean climate, which distinguishes much of California and, in modified forms, the rest of the West Coast. By doing so, we hoped to encourage people to celebrate that uniqueness by creating gardens that as bold, colorful, and romantic as those found in the regions around the Mediterranean Basin. And gardens that serve the lifestyle made possible by this benign climate.
In 1998, few programs presented by public gardens or horticultural groups on the West Coast acknowledged our climate as a determining factor in the design and planting of gardens. That seems to have changed now: a quick survey of the Calendar in Pacific Horticulture will reveal the frequency of that concept in the programs listed. Membership has increased tremendously in the three branches of the Mediterranean Garden Society in California. Even other national gardening magazines now recognize the distinction of our climate and its obvious impact on our gardens. We like to think that our symposia have, in some small way, influenced this perceptible shift to an understanding of the mediterranean climate.
We have had invitations to bring Gardening Under Mediterranean Skies to Oregon, Washington, and Victoria, as well as to other areas in California; we know that the issue of limited water resources will not leave us. We are now working on a series of garden history seminars with the Garden Conservancy (see page 22). We also hope to explore other traditions that appear in Western gardens, particularly those from elsewhere on the Pacific Rim. Overall, however, we want to broaden the celebration of gardening opportunities made possible by our mediterranean climates. Stay tuned to Pacific Horticulture…and help us spread the word.