Wildflowering L.A. is a native wildflower seed sowing initiative throughout Los Angeles County by artist Fritz Haeg. Fifty highly visible sites are sown in fall 2013 to bloom in spring 2014, culminating in a public exhibition and event in early summer.
The project – presented by LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) in partnership with the Theodore Payne Foundation – brings a wild and beautiful seasonal native landscape to open plots of land throughout Los Angeles County. The sites are selected from an open call based on public visibility and distribution across the County. Owners of selected sites are given free native wildflower seed mixes at workshops in partnership with the Theodore Payne Foundation. Soil preparation, seeding, and wildflower tending are demonstrated, and one of four custom wildflower seed mixes is prescribed – Coastal, Flatlands, Hillside, and Roadside – inspired by Reyner Banham’s 1971 book, Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies. Each of the participating sites is officially identified with a prominent carved wood sign. The project culminates with an exhibition in spring 2014.
Age-defying thirsty landscapes of clipped evergreen shrubbery and lawns cover this city that supposedly has no seasons, no sense of time, and an aversion to all evidence of aging or death. The story of its native wildflowers is more complex, nuanced, localized and ever changing. Long anticipated early winter rains germinate seeds that have been lying in wait, buried in dry soils from the low coasts to the high deserts, from the valley flats to the mountain slopes. Gradual growth with cool temperatures and low sun through winter months give way to an early spring explosion of bright green and rainbow color. The story of the season is told with the timing and extent of the bloom in direct proportion to the rainfall, temperatures, and climate. The plants turn to a crisp golden brown as the dry summer months return, and the flowers prepare to broadcast their seeds for next year’s story.
When I first came to California (in 1893), what impressed me perhaps more than anything else was the wonderful native flora. But as the years went by it was with deep regret that I saw the wild flowers so rapidly disappearing from the landscape. I made up my mind that I would try to do something to awaken a greater interest in native flora. Thus it was that I began to specialize in the growing of wild flowers and native plants. I collected seed of a few kinds of wild flowers, grew them and offered seed for sale.
Little or no success attended this first venture, it being generally conceded that it was foolish to waste time on “wild flowers.” As a demonstration (in 1905) I secured the use of a vacant lot in Hollywood and sowed it with wildflower seeds. I went to Walter Raymond of the Raymond Hotel in Pasadena and asked him for use of a piece of ground for sowing wild flower seeds. Mr. Raymond readily consented and and the following spring there was a splendid display. I also secured the use of two lots in Pasadena, one on Green Street and the other at the corner of Lake and Colorado, which I sowed with wild flower seeds. All these plots were greatly admired and I received complimentary letters from many people.
While roaming around in the San Fernando Valley, I noticed that certain areas would produce a succession of color and flower effects – yellow predominating at one time, blue at another, and so on. I wondered if the same effects could be produced artificially so I began to experiment with mixing several varieties of seeds, sowing them and watching the results. It was in this way that I perfected my wild flower mixtures which have since become so popular.
—from Theodore Payne in His Own Words: A Voice of California Native Plants
Wildflowering L.A. is a project by artist Fritz Haeg
Curated, produced, and presented by LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division)
Wildflower consulting by Theodore Payne Foundation
Graphic design and identity by Roman Jaster
Sign fabrication by Knowhow Shop
Official before and after photos by Isabel Avila
Supported by a grant from the James Irvine Foundation
For the spring show and event, thanks to: Leigh Adams, Erin Harkey, Joshua Link, Tom McKenzie, Brooke Sauer, Andy Wilcox, and Richard Schulhof at The Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanic Gardens; Michelle Matthews and Veronica Franco at The Shed; Kristy Baltezore and Gabie Strong of KCHUNG; and especially to the volunteers: Carolyn Gray Anderson, Noe Gaytan, Sara Abed, Ernesto Perez, Jeremy Jarrin, Alex Castellon, Siobhan Feehan, Josh Stone, Jamie Shi, Kate Gilbert, Jamie McAndrews, Claudia Borgna, Veronica Franco, Maya Gingery, and Kate Parsons.
Project website: wildflowering.org
Social media hashtags: #wildfloweringla
General project inquiries: email@example.com
Media inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pacific Horticulture Society, Wildflowering L.A.: Inspiration Takes Shape at the Arboretum, by Richard Schulhof and Leigh Adams, Fall 2014
KCET Artbound, Wildflowering L.A. With Fritz Haeg, by Maxwell Williams, May 19th, 2014
PolicyMic, Why One Artist is Planting Wildflowers All Over Los Angeles, by Laura Itzkowitz, May 2nd, 2014
Tigers to Lilies (Blog), Wildflower Fields of Magic, Beauty and Fairies, May 1st, 2014
Artnet News, Native Flora Is Retaking the City of Los Angeles in Artist Initiative, by Sarah Cascone, April 30th, 2014
Hyperallergic, Sowing Wildflowers Across Los Angeles as Hyperlocal Public Art, by Allison Meier, April 30, 2014
Gizmodo, How An Artist Blanketed Los Angeles In Wildflowers, by Alissa Walker, April 28th, 2014
Los Angeles Times, Story of Fritz Haeg’s Wildflowering L.A. blooms in Pasadena, by Anne Colby, April 26th, 2014
de LaB, Making LA: Wildflowering L.A., April 10, 2014
The Horticult, Field of Dreams: ‘Wildflowering L.A.’ Turns Urban Sprawl Into Native, Magical Meadows, by Chantal Aida Gordon, March 20th, 2014
Los Angeles I’m Yours, The Story Of A Season: Inside Wildflowering LA, by Kyle Fitzpatrick, November 5th, 2013
Curbed LA, Art Project Will Plant 50 Wildflower Gardens Across LA County, by James Brasuell, November 4th, 2013
L.A. Weekly, An Artist Tries to Fill L.A. with Wildflowers, by Nate Berg, November 1st, 2013
Los Angeles Daily News, The Arboretum unites California native wildflowers with sustainable water harvesting techniques, by Sandra Barerra, January 9, 20143
Wilder Quarterly, Community Planting: Artist Fritz Haeg’s mission to make Los Angeles bloom, by Maxwell Williams, Summer/Fall 2013, p. 70-75
The Wild Magazine, Re-flowering L.A. With Fritz Haeg, by Dawn Blackman, January 14, 2014
Arboretum, Wildflowering L.A.: A New Landscape Evolves, by Lili Singer, January 1st, 2014
LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division)
LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) is a non-profit art organization founded in 2009 by LAND Director/Curator Shamim M. Momin, former Contemporary Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Christine Y. Kim, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
LAND is a public art initiative committed to curating site- and situation-specific contemporary art projects, in Los Angeles and beyond. LAND supports dynamic and unconventional artistic practices using a tripartite approach:
- Commissioning public projects of site- and situation-specific works with national and international contemporary artists.
- Collaborating with a variety of institutions and organizations, such as universities, museums, and theaters as well as other types of spaces, industries, and entities.
- Offering additional programs such as performances, workshops, residencies, discussions, and publications.
LAND is an ongoing endeavor with three primary types of annual programming: LAND 1.0 projects are large-scale, multi-artist, multi-site exhibitions and single-site group exhibitions; LAND 2.0 projects feature a new commission by a single mid-career or established artist; and LAND 3.0 projects feature new work by lesser known or emerging artists.
Theodore Payne Foundation
Founded and incorporated in 1960, the Theodore Payne Foundation promotes the understanding and preservation of California native flora. Their mission is:
- To promote and restore California landscapes, and habitats
- To propagate and make available California native plants and wildflowers
- To educate and acquire knowledge about California flora and natural history
Theodore Payne (1872-1963) was born in North Hamptonshire, England and served an apprenticeship in horticulture. He came to Los Angeles in 1893 and fell in love with the California flora, dedicating his life to its preservation. Even in the early years of this century, native vegetation was being lost to agriculture and housing at an alarming rate. He urged the use of California native plants and lectured across the state on preserving the wild flowers and landscapes native to California.
In his own nursery and seed business, which he started in 1903, native wildflowers and landscapes were his specialty. In 1915 he laid out and planted 262 species in a five-acre wild garden in Los Angeles’ Exposition Park. He later helped to establish the Blaksley Botanic Garden in Santa Barbara, planted 178 native species in the California Institute of Technology Botanic Garden in Pasadena, helped create the native plant garden at Los Angeles’ Descanso Gardens, and advised the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Orange County. By the time he retired in 1958, Payne had made over 400 species of native plants available to the public.
Wherever you looked or stepped, there were acres of purple owl’s clover, yellow tidy tips and golden poppies. The rapidity with which the wildflowers are decreasing is most damning. If we do not begin to preserve them, the time will come when they will become extinct and live only in history.
Fritz Haeg‘s work has included edible gardens, public dances, educational environments, animal architecture, domestic gatherings, urban parades, temporary encampments, documentary videos, publications, exhibitions, and occasionally buildings for people. Recent projects include Edible Estates – an international series of public domestic edible gardens; Animal Estates – a housing initiative for native wildlife in cities around the world which debuted at the 2008 Whitney Biennial; Sundown Schoolhouse – an itinerant educational program, which evolved out of the Sundown Salon gatherings at his geodesic home base in the hills of Los Angeles; the designs, encampments, and scores of Fritz Haeg Studio; and the traveling series of installations on handmade rugs, Domestic Integrities.
Haeg is a 2010-11 Rome Prize Fellow and has variously taught in architecture, design, and fine art programs at Princeton University, Cal Arts, Art Center College of Design, Parsons School of Design, the University of Southern California, and Wayne State University in Detroit. Haeg has produced projects and exhibited work at Tate Modern, the Hayward Gallery, the Liverpool Biennial, MoMA, the Whitney Museum of American Art, SFMoMA, SALT Beyoglu (Istanbul), Casco (Utrecht), Stroom (Den Haag), Arup Phase 2 (London), Blood Mountain Foundation (Budapest), Pollinaria (Abruzzo), the Israeli Center for Digital Arts, The Institute of Contemporary Art (Philadelphia), the Indianapolis Museum of Art, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Mass MoCA, the deCordova Museum, the Hammer Museum, and most recently at the Walker Art Center for the solo show Fritz Haeg: At Home in the City. Publications include The Sundown Salon Unfolding Archive (Evil Twin Publications), Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn (Metropolis Books), and Roma Mangia Roma (NERO Publications, expected 2014).