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2009 Not-So-Beautiful Awards
updated: Sep 27, 2009, 12:00 AM

Thoughts From the Garden of Ed

Santa Barbara Not-So-Beautiful Awards
by Billy Goodnick


Mr. Goodnick being interviewed on the red brick carpet at the Santa Barbara Beautiful Awards. (Sept 20, 2009)

Why is it the term "a bunch of do-gooders" has such a snotty ring? I might be a little more sensitive than the next person, what with my last name, and all, but when actual do-gooders do good, I think that's good!

My favorite dudes and dudettes in the white hats are Santa Barbara Beautiful, a non-profit organization that provides money for street trees and fills students' heads with green ideas about the environment. And if that weren't swell enough, they hand out awards for exemplary projects that make Santa Barbara truly beautiful.

Last weekend, under a spreading Ficus macrophylla - sans village smithy - a few hundred SBB board members, judges and award winners mobbed the Music Academy of the West, sipped local wines and masticated micro-munchies. After a bit of gab and greet we hied to Hahn Hall to honor the honorable. [Full disclosure: I've been reading a book about alliteration-could ya tell?] The event was featured in last week's Edhat, so I won't pull my Bureau of Redundancy Bureau routine - just check it out.

Get To The Point

My turn!

For the past few years, I've taken it upon myself to peel back the fetid cloak of darkness and draw your attention to a parallel alternate universe of hideous and paralyzingly misguided landscapes ... a realm so evil and disturbing that parents rush to protect their children from the Boschian vision. Despite the personal joy I get from ripping to shreds these misguided landscapes, my intent is to give my readers useful information-I just like to spew a little bile while getting there. Previous award articles can be viewed here and here.

Category I - Just Cuz You Own Power Trimmers...

I am always happy to find examples of Wrong Plant/Wrong Place. But I almost locked up my brakes driving along La Cumbre Road when I spotted this disturbing scene.

Not only did someone put waaaaay too many white Lantana montevidensis in this tiny tree planter, but the gardener shears the snot out of them, with no regard for the resulting ugliness. And I'm guessing the owner pays him for it. Hint: take all the plants out and replace them with new ones that fit comfortably within the space.

Category II - Fugly Is In The Eyes Of The Besmircher

As if Algerian ivy weren't already as welcome as Hannibal Lecter at a vegan picnic, this thicket nearly knocked me out. If you look up the mature size of the ivy Hedera canariensis in a plant book, it says indeterminate. Indeterminate as in "don't let the dog get too close or you might not see him again." It never stops growing.

Which explains why it's been hacked back to Hackensack. Adding insult to injury, if you wait too long to trim it, you end up cutting into nothing but deadwood. Don't worry, though. You can control it with a well-placed napalm drop.

Category III - The Other Man's Grass Is Always Browner

I'll dispatch this one quickly. 1) Don't plant grass unless you use if for recreation-it's too resource-intensive for our climate; 2) Don't plant grass on a steep slope-the water runs off before it soaks in and it's a bitch to mow; 3) If you ignore either of these rules, ask yourself why you'd want to look at the resulting war zone-this is not anyone's idea of curb appeal.

Category IV - Never Misunderestimate Creeping Fig

Not unlike our good friend, Algerian Ivy, creeping fig (Ficus repens), if given enough time, will consume a house, a lethargic elephant or a block wall and carport. Once again, a hapless gardener need only look around Santa Barbara to find examples of how out-of-hand this self-attaching creeper can get. It once covered all four stories of the city garage on East Ortega Street. It is now in the process of being ingloriously stripped from the walls of the historic Carrillo Recreation Center, where it has weakened the mortar between bricks. One simple bit of advice: Never plant this scourge.

Category V - The Rodney King Award

"People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?"

Not in this case. Before some numb-nut decided to put a rose bush in the middle of a patch of English ivy (Hedera helix), he should have thought about 1) Ivy, as aptly illustrated in Category II, likes to creep, climb and cuddle with anything nearby. 2) Roses have thorns.

The designer might have considered what happens when the gardener has to clear the ivy from the branches of the rose. Though the imagery of blood-red roses dotted with human blood might excite Ann Rice, I'm thinking there might be smarter combos in the garden.

Category VI - Deader Than A Texas Armadillo On The Sam Huston Highway

Maybe it's just me, but the tawny leaves of a dearly departed juniper don't count as fall color. It's dead. It's been dead for a year. It's not coming back. Can't get over it? Find a grief support group on-line.

What's that? It's not dead-it's just resting? Didn't work for Monty Python-not working here. Put a chain around the poor wretch, tie the other end to a trailer hitch, put the pedal to the metal and let's make Santa Barbara more beautifuller.

That's my list for 2009. If you have candidates for next year's rant, leave a comment. It's never too soon to start thinking about this prestigious honor.

# # # #

Billy Goodnick is a nice guy who knows a lot about plants and garden stuff.


# # # #

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 38695 agree helpful negative off topic

2009-09-26 10:26 AM

Ouch! That's just mean. LOL

No, it's good to give people tips on this stuff so the mistakes aren't repeated. Actually, otherwise, I love the Dr-Seuss-bush landscaping at that church in the last photo -- it's a little bit of a "don't", but it always makes me smile because it's so well groomed (aside from the dead bush).

What are those bushes with the puffballs on the end of the stalks, anyway? Do they have to be clipped to grow that way or is it somewhat a natural effect?


 COMMENT 38718 agree helpful negative off topic

2009-09-26 02:09 PM

I would add Billy's hat to the list...


 COMMENT 38746 agree helpful negative off topic

2009-09-26 09:21 PM

Bravo to Billy !
He takes his job seriously while, at the same time, he's able to put it in perspective and find room for a bit of good humor.

Some other "greenies" are just too dull and boring.


 COMMENT 38779 agree helpful negative off topic

2009-09-27 12:51 PM

Tongue-in-cheek humour can still get the point across. Kudos to Billy. I've been guilty of the "I don't think it's really dead, maybe it'll come back" look in my own yard, so thanks for the support to take a deep breath and yank the thing out.


 COMMENT 38780 agree helpful negative off topic

2009-09-27 01:28 PM

Great article. I've had these "pray for one just more year" plants in my yard too.

Please check out the trimmed "tree" at the back employee door of 3712 State St. I don't think they even trim it any more, but I'm pretty sure its dead. Is it? Thanks.


 COMMENT 38797 agree helpful negative off topic

2009-09-27 05:49 PM

Bravo Billy! My landlords "gardeners" (I refer to them as landscape terrorists), shear everything in sight until its just a gumball-shaped mass of twigs, pruning everything just as it's leafing or coming into bloom, all whilst allowing a rogue palm to continue crowding out the base of a fabulous old Jacaranda tree. Not to mention, okay I'll mention, the diseased (with curly leaf??) hedges along the front yard which are just allowed to rot, untended. I submit Loma Media Road as a potential field trip for your 2010 awards prospects. Sorry, I can't be more specific than that, but I'm sure a quick drive up LMR will give you an idea or two...



 COMMENT 38799 agree helpful negative off topic

2009-09-27 07:29 PM

Your author here--Billy G.

Allegro: Not exactly Dr. Seuss; more like Terry Gilliam's version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas!

Smurfo: You gotta problem wit my hat? You wanna knock it off my head? Smattafayooz?

Chucker: If I didn't laugh, I'd cry.

Awareness: The only thing that might be able to save the dead ones is a time machine: Travel back, catch it before the harm is done and tell it you love it.

Cookie: I will mos def cruise by 3712. I'm in DC right now on a little vaycay, but will add it to my TTD list. Maybe next year's winner.

Belatrix: Same to you--love the new candidates. Thanks for being discreet.

Later, skaters.


 COMMENT 38801 agree helpful negative off topic

2009-09-27 07:39 PM

It's not dead .... it's RESTING. A fabulous nod to one of the greatest skits of all time, and so appropriate here. Thank you for a very excellent article. I remember that you wrote a similar article last year and I also laughed 'til I needed a kleenex to wipe away a laugh-tear. Thank you - I needed that.


 COMMENT 38981 agree helpful negative off topic

2009-09-29 12:54 PM

Thanks for the laugh out loud Lantana picture. I think the garden janitors are in love with weed whackers. I know they ruined my perennial bed more than once. Keep up the good work, it needs doin'!


 COMMENT 50572 agree helpful negative off topic

2009-12-19 01:45 PM

A little late, I know, but just saw this article. Back in the 80's I was very active in Goleta Beautiful. I decided to start a Goleta Ugly scrapbook. It was not an official thing like the "Beautiful Awards" , but I would go around and let myself be seen taking pictures of really bad trashy sites. Often , I did not even have film, but the owners would ask what I was doing, and I would tell them that the picture might even get in the NP. Another interesting story wasthat we had many complaints about a bin the the Salvation Army kept on Turnpike Ave and Hollister. It was always overflowing and a terrible blight on the neighborhood. Repeated calls to the SA head just got hang ups. Making sure I would be seen taking pictures, the head man came out furious and threatened to call the police.I said, goo, I am on County property taking pictures of your mess. It was removed the next day.
A lot of trashy properties got cleaned up this way.


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