Water District sponsors Fall Home Show

by Lucinda Sue Crosby

(reprinted from the Daily Independent,
September 5-6, 2009, Ridgecrest, CA)

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Photo of the McLean front yard
This is the lush and water friendly landscape at the San Gabriel Valley home of renowned Naturalists Gabi and Cliff McLean, who took out their lawn several years ago. Noted Landscape Architect Robert Martin assisted with the design. The yard has since been officially designated a Wildlife Habitat.

When Cliff and Gabi McLean expound on the native plants of the San Gabriel Mountains, people listen. For years, they have been teaching others about the remarkable indigenous flora through hikes and educational programs in conjunction with organizations like the Los Angeles County Natural Area Parks; the LA County Fire Department; the California Native Plant Society; the Angeles National Forest; and the Natural Sciences Section of the Sierra Club.

Local gardeners, mark your calendars! These renowned naturalists will be Special Guest Speakers at the Indian Wells Valley Water District's XERIC© Hands-On, How-To Seminars on Saturday, September 12 during the Fall Home and Leisure Show located at the fairgrounds. Their program entitled, "We Took Out the Lawn and You Can Too" was designed to "give others the courage to do what we did," Cliff explained. They are scheduled to appear at 1:30 pm.

Although both Gabi, the non-profit professional, and Cliff, the computer wizard, have lived in the San Gabriel Valley for over 20 years, they are transplants. Gabi migrated from Germany and Cliff was born in Ohio. When they met at the Eaton Canyon Nature Center in 1991, they discovered a mutual fascination with the living beauty of the area's foothills.

"By embracing the local natural environment, we have become part of Southern California instead of making Southern California into a part of where we came from. Now we feel totally at home here," Cliff said.

Together, they pursued a series of classes and workshops. Over time, as their love for and knowledge of the plants native to the region grew, Gabi's gift for photography and Cliff's computer software savvy morphed into a creative partnership. Together, they have produce Common Plants of Eaton Canyon and the San Gabriel Foothills: Field Guide on CD and more recently Plants of the San Gabriel Mountains: Foothills and Canyons, an interpretive guide. These wonderfully engaging educational materials are sold at nature centers, botanical gardens, native plant nurseries, book stores and on their own web site: natureathand.com.

Several years ago, the McLeans replaced their lawn with Xeriscape plants and design with the help of Landscape Architect Robert Martin. The space has since been designated a Backyard Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federaton. The account of their missteps, trials, tribulations and triumphs during this transformation just might give you the courage you need to tackle your own turf.

The McLeans encourage giving the plants the freedom "to take on their natural size and shape to the extent possible in a limited amount of space." Cliff added, "We are very much looking forward to this opportunity to share our story and hope to get people to consider embracing the high desert instead of resisting it."

Two other demonstrations are scheduled that day. Beginning at 11 am, Xeriscape expert and local Landscape Designer Peter Brown will talk about his favorite landscape flourish in "Boulders and Rocks: The WOW Factor." At 12:15 pm, Landscape Designer Kari Hunter will bring back the ever popular Garden-in-a-Box concept with a new twist - succulents. Some lucky audience member will receive the finished product!

Join the IWVWD Ambassadors and staff for these entertaining and enlightening programs on Saturday, September 12 in Continental Labor Hall. Throughout the weekend, we also invite you to stop by our Water District booth for the latest in free water efficent goodies. Conserving water can be easy on the wallet, ecologically sound and fun! Let us show you how!

No reservation are required for these presentations but seating is limited. For more information, please contact Lucinda Sue at (760) 384-5518. And remember water wise is beautiful!

Keywords: Gabi McLean, Cliff McLean, Gabriele McLean, Clifford McLean, Nature at Hand, Gabi Horn, Gabriele Horn, Plants of the San Gabriel Mountains: Foothills and Canyons, Plants of the San Gabriels, California native plants, Pasadena, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, San Gabriel Valley, Southern California, Altadena, Covina, natural, nature photography, photograph, environmental education, naturalist, docent, hike, hiking, CD-ROM, California native garden, gardening, flowers, wildflowers, San Gabriel Mountains, Angeles National Forest, California Native Plant Society, CNPS, Eaton Canyon Nature Center Associates, ECNCA