Backstage at the Sepulveda Basin Pink Flowers on the Wild Side


The pink cherry trees around Balboa Lake get a lot of attention when they cover the basin in their beautiful pink flowers. The trees cover most of the green, neatly clipped hills near the entrance and around the lake and waterfall.

This week, Woodley Avenue deserves a little glory too. Most of the street is lined with pink flowering Desert Willow (chilopsis linearis) and they are in bloom now.

Much of the area (across from Woodley Park) has been planted in drought tolerant shrubs and trees or just left wild.

It is behind part of the golf course and you can catch glimpses of the manicured greens past the wild sunflowers and native sycamore trees. It just makes me think of this area as backstage or the wild side of Sepulveda Basin.

When I write about Desert Willow for my gardening blog I will recommend them as a better, pinker alternative to cherry trees in dry gardens.

Desert willow is drought tolerant and grows to 40 feet tall. It can be left as a shrub, or trained into a tree with several trunks. It blooms from spring through fall and gets long dangling seed pods (for those cool craft projects).

The fragrant flowers bloom in white to pink and purple. The blooms are borne on long clusters with large, 2 inch flowers with contrasting stripes. They can tolerate the alkaline, clay soil found many of the inland valleys.

Put these on your list for fall planting season. I've found them at one of my favorite native nurseries; Las Pilitas Nursery After the first year they should be living mainly on rainfall alone so you won't have to sweat the 200% increase in water rates!

Take leisurely 2 minute drive on Woodley between Burbank Blvd on the south and Vanowen on the north. You could hop off the freeway at Burbank and take that down into the basin to Woodley and turn right. At the end, near Vanowen you can turn around and take one last look before getting back on the freeway to civilization.

If you really want the 'authentic' effect, turn of the air conditioner and roll down all your windows!

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