NATIVE GARDEN IS RESPITE FROM HUBBUB PIERCE CAMPUS WELCOMES GREENERY.
WOODLAND HILLS -- On a square stretch of land between the life science and math buildings, the natives go wild.
Knee-high chaparral spread out in the sun, lanky cactuses shoot up toward the sky and bushy sagebrush show off their silvery-green hue.
The half-completed botanical garden at Pierce College, where the drought-resistant, native plants grow, is one of the largest of its kind within the nine-campus Los Angeles Community College District.
Once completed, it will cover two acres and include native plants from Australia to South Africa.
It also is a surprise of sorts to those who wander in. Located among key buildings and departments on campus, the garden's inhabitants are as diverse as L.A.'s residents. Plants from seven spots on Earth that share Southern California's climate grow together, their branches and leaves crisscrossing each other over park benches, meditation ponds and stone water fountains.
During a groundbreaking Friday to launch construction of the second phase of the garden, an Australian Wollemi pine sapling was brought in and planted inside a whiskey barrel, awaiting its turn to join the others.
``This (garden) is a triumph in persistence and persuasion,'' said Innes Willox, Australia's consul-general for L.A. ``I would hope, as this tree grows and takes root, that it reminds all the teachers and students a little bit of Australia.''
Part of the funding for the garden comes from the $2.2 billion Propositions A and AA construction bond funds passed in 2001 and 2003, from the S. Mark Taper Foundation, for which the garden is named, and from the Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District and local businesses.
Teachers from the Life Sciences Department dreamed up the project in 1999, expecting a small corner. Instead, they got two acres.
At a time when colleges and universities are banking on bond money to expand on valuable plots of land, a botanical garden at a city college might seem extravagant.
But college administrators call the greening of developments the way of the future and an important teaching point to students studying urban landscaping and agriculture.
``We can make this a model of how we can live in a more sensitive environment,'' said Pierce College President Robert Garber.
``A college is not just buildings. It's gardens and open space,'' said Darroch ``Rocky'' Young, Los Angeles Community College District chancellor. ``We've created an environment that is attractive, that will have an impact.''
The garden is expected to be completed by spring and will continue to be maintained by life science students and teachers until a gardener can be hired, said James Rikel, who sits on the life sciences garden committee.
Students say a few minutes in the garden offers a respite from everyday stresses.
``It's my favorite place on campus,'' said first-year student Anai Chaidez, 18. ``It makes the school so pretty.''
(1 -- 2) Pierce College biology professors Pat Farris, left, and Kate Kubach carry a rare Australian pine tree to be planted in the botanical gardens at the college on Friday.
Tina Burch/Staff Photographer
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Dec 9, 2006|
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