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Sunnyslope Gardens ~ 8638 Huntington Drive ~ San Gabriel

Winter storms clear the skies and return the rains to our drought stricken land. Angelenos can cast their eyes on the panoramic perspectives of the San Gabriel Mountains- omnipresent, but so often obscured by smog. Stone mountain tops are iced over, and snow drenched summits frame the sky and the city. These waters will feed the slopes and alluvial flood plains at the mountains' base. Urban sprawl and overpopulation being what they are, it can be easy to forget that here in Southern California we have been steadily replacing some of the world's richest, most productive agricultural land with tar and concrete. Ask someone who loves the smell of orange blossoms to tell you what's happened to the orange orchards in Riverside County, along old Mission Blvd., and all over Southern California, over the last thirty years. Well, this isn't the story of Chicken Little. We want to celebrate a horticultural treasure of the Southland, Sunnyslope Gardens, where flowers look like lollipops and Bonsai-like cascades of dragon headed color.

See this article from Sunset Magazine for a list and description of some of the area's best plant nurseries, including Sunnyslope Gardens:

This San Gabriel nursery got its start 64 years ago, when the Great Depression forced William Ishizu out of law school and into plant growing. The rich San Gabriel Valley loam has been good to him: his son Philip still starts thousands of chrysanthemums in it.

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Chrysanthemum (of the large family Compositae) is the Greek word for 'golden flower'. Records show that this genus of plants, the emblem of autumn, had been cultivated in China for more than 3,000 years. The flower was introduced into Japan in the 7th Century, and has since been its national symbol. The Japanese flag, contrary to general belief, carries the emblem of the Chrysanthemum, rather than that of the rising sun. The highest honor accorded by the Emperor is the Order of the Chrysanthemum.

Because of the flower's tough resistance to frost, its golden blooms and fragrant foliage have graced Thanksgiving tables in this country since the 18th Century. Costmary, of the Chrysanthemum family, has such pungent leaves that early New Englanders carried nose-gays of the plant to church to keep themselves awake through long, dull sermons. -Bright of America

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Lavender. Some people believe stashing a bundle of lavender under your pillow at night will bring you lucid dreams.

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