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South L.A.’s amazing home gardens

Photos by Jason Lewis

Home & Garden

Inspired Garden Artistry takes community members on a tour of local home gardens.

Inspired Garden Artistry’s Lorinee Jackson, Opal Lyseight, and Andrienne Mayberry touring Tom Stang’s garden in View Park.


By Megan Reed

Home owners in South Los Angeles have some amazing gardens, and Inspired Garden Artistry put them on display during the Spring Garden Tour this past May.  Home gardens in View Park, Windsor Hills, View Heights, and Ladera Heights were showcased in this self-guided botanical tour.

Inspired Garden Artistry was launched in 2000.  

“We saw some other areas that had garden tours, and we thought that we have some beautiful homes and some beautiful gardens,” said Beverly Newton, a master gardener.  “One of our neighbors said that our area should have a garden tour.”

Typically seven to nine homes are featured on the tour, which attracts nearly 1,000 people.  

“Home owners open up their backyard gardens for people to tour, to get ideas, and visit with their neighbors,” Newton said.  “It’s like a moveable party.  It’s a way of meeting your neighbors.  It’s a way of interacting with the neighborhood and community organizations.”

While the tour showcases certain gardens, it also inspires to many people to take up this hobby and decorate their yards.  

“The inspiration comes from seeing that it’s possible,” Opal Lyseight said.  

Many people spend the bulk of their home improvement funds on the interior of their house, but neglect their backyard.

“Putting a new plant, or new grass in your backyard is no different than deciding to paint your kitchen,” Lyseight said.  “Especially with people moving toward outdoor living.  While you can live inside, there is a whole world outside in your private domain that you can take advantage of as well.”

“We’re extending our homes into our gardens,” Lorinee Jackson said.  “It’s an outdoor room.”

Gardening is more than just planting flowers.  It’s also making the outdoors feel as comfortable as the living room.  People who bring the comforts of home outside tend to spend more time outdoors, which can have certain benefits.

“Even if you’re coming out in the morning with a cup of coffee or a cup of tea for 20 minutes, it changes your entire perspective of how your day is going to go,” Lyseight said.  “Even if your space isn’t the most elaborate or beautiful, if you can just get one little stool and sit outside, it will change how you will move forward that day.”

Gardening and landscaping can be a daunting task when starting out, but there are many people in the community who are willing to help their neighbors get started.

“I would always recommend that people get some consultation,” Lyseight said.  “There are several people in our community who are architectural designers that you can call on, and there are some who does this as a profession.  The consultation can help energize you.”

“I don’t do any gardening, so Beverly and Opal came and consulted for me,” Andrienne Mayberry said.  “And now I have a little garden going on in the front, and my husband and I are going to kind of inch our way around.”

Having some guidance from people who know their way around the backyard is very helpful because there is a lot of trial and error involved with gardening.  

“You have to have some knowledge of what kind of shape your soil is in; what may grow,” Mayberry said.  “People like me do not have that, so we do need consultation.”

Gardening is also an ongoing process.

“You need to know what goes with the seasons,” Jackson said.  “Things die out in the summer.  So what’s going to replace them in the fall and winter?  Gardening is never done.  It’s always evolving.”

Gardening is also a physical activity, which has health benefits.

“Gardening for three hours is labor intensive,” Lyseight said.  “It’s different from the gym when you have to do x amount of reps to accomplish something.  But you don’t realize that every bend that you do in your garden, it’s a squat.  You’re not consciously counting it, but you’re taking care of your body.”

“But it’s relaxing,” Jackson said.  “A lot of times when I’m feeling a little frazzled I’ll go outside and dig in the dirt, take some leaves off of things that have turned brown, and I’ll just feel better.  I’ll be out there for a half an hour, and then it’ll turn into two hours.  Because you have these sounds; the wind; the leaves; the birds.  It’s tranquil.  So you come away feeling good.”

Inspired Garden Artistry’s tour takes place every other year, but they have events, plant swaps, and small gardening classes throughout the year.  They also participate in the Leimert Park garden tour, which is also every other year.  The next Leimert Park garden tour takes place in 2019, and the next Inspired Garden Artistry tour takes place in 2020.   

Stay updated with Inspired Garden Artistry’s events and gardening tips on Facebook and Instagram, and visit their website at www.inspiredgardenartistry.com.  Proceeds from the tours are donated to local non-profit organizations, such as the Wayfinder Family Services (Junior Blind) and the Fernando Pullum Community Art Center.

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