The Yucca Whipplei is a chaparral native plant that dots the hills with spikes of huge white blooms in spring.It is drought-tolerant and Eco-friendly — except when it helps spread wildfires by rolling downhill like a flaming fireball. Photo by Jane Gates

Rather than a technical article, I just wanted to add a blog about the combination of politics and gardening. In my opinion they just don’t mix. Now, in your area, you may find the rules and regulations being passed on landscaping and gardening are perfectly legitimate. But here in Southern California, I am at a loss who or why some restrictions have been legislated with what seems to be very little concern for the overall effects — both short term and long. I suppose there are people with “a  little bit of knowledge” who think they are doing good.

For some reason city, county and state organizations all too often don’t realize they could be spending their (our) money wisely by actually hiring knowledgeable people to advise them on residential landscaping and gardening codes and legislation. But instead of hiring people who are experts in the subject, they tend to appoint researchers who grab books that may or may not be appropriate to the topic in question then pass sweeping legislation about what can and can’t happen in our gardens. I have no doubt that if some residential garden enthusiasts are left to their own resources, some may indeed make bad choices that are neither wise nor safe. Legislating controls certainly does have a place in our society. But when I see lists of supposed wildfire prevention regulations that accomplish the exact opposite of making a landscape fire safe and laws to stop all water features in an effort to reduce water usage when huge, water-guzzling lawns are acceptable in drought-afflicted areas and smart-built recycled water features that help wildlife survive are banned, well, I really begin to wonder.

All too often I have found home owners who want to go ecologically-friendly actually thwarted by landscape legislation. I’ve had to nix excellent garden plans or plants because the fire department has erroneously placed them on the fire-danger list or the county has placed what appear to be arbitrary building restrictions that won’t allow truly useful designs. The water department that is supposed to be helping in water conservation seems to be sorely lacking in anyone able to give home-owners any really helpful advice beyond the same trite phrases. Why should any public department be allowed to legislate rules and regulations if they can’t first hire real, knowledgeable, helpful people who know what they’re talking about from first-hand experience?

I understand controls, but broad legislation that bans recycling safe, useful material instead of differentiating between the acceptable and non-acceptable, stops the planting of plants that should be good choices because they are a problem in an entirely different geographic area, or makes it too difficult to actually implement wise ecological choices by making improvements too exacting — well, somebody should call in some REAL experts for a change. Leave the politics to the politicians and let the local experts make the decisions behind the legislating instead of the pencil-pushers!

Okay. This is my blog, so I’m allowed to vent my frustration at the idiocy I see all over the place when it comes to legislating residential gardens. Maybe if we tried doing things because they WORK rather than because this is the way they’re SUPPOSED to be done, we’d actually get efficient and productive! And everyone could be happy — except, perhaps, the inept people who are used to reaping healthy salaries for making decisions they simple aren’t competent to make. With a little luck they’d be spending their working time doing something they are better at doing.