San Fernando Valley Gardening Tips

West Valley Nursery’s John Tsuchiyama Opens Up

What’s your number one gardening tip?
JT: Be as green as possible. Minimize water and chemicals.

For those looking to make a major change, any suggestions?
JT: Get rid of or reduce your lawn. Plant something like Dymondia, a silvery gray ground cover that needs little water.

What’s the one thing every garden should have?
JT: Edibles. At the very least, one should grow herbs.

Favorite perennial?
JT: For the sun, I love Wave Petunia, which is fungus-resistant. While many people use them like annuals, they’re really perennials—if you cut them back, they’ll return.

JT: Dwarf Zinnia “profusion.” It’s heat-tolerant, disease-resistant, and you don’t have to stake it.

JT: Yves Piaget. It’s a hot bluish-pink, very fragrant and looks like an antique. 

What’s your most prized possession here?
JT: Our dwarf Olive bonsai (pictured on right). One of my employees is incredible at this kind of thing. He put it in this pot five years ago. It took a lot of skill to get it to this point.

What’s the biggest mistake Valley gardeners make?
JT: They don’t use imagination when landscaping. I see these big, beautiful houses with average gardens.

What should we never grow in the Valley?
JT: Pampas grass. It’s too invasive.

You have beautiful fuchsias here – what’s the trick?
JT: They’re hard to grow in the Valley. They don’t like hot, dry sun, so you have to find the perfect spot and fertilize a lot.

You’re not a fan of the ficus hedge – right?
JT: Correct. They grow fast, but they can die from a cold snap, and they’re extremely invasive. Roots buckle pavement and crack pipes.

What’s a better option?
JT: If you can be patient, I like Holly Leaf Cherry or Catalina Cherry.

Favorite fertilizer?
JT: I’m a firm believer in organic composting. My neighbor has a compost pile that she dumps stuff into. One day out of the blue there was a watermelon growing there. Amazing.

More Stories
Eat & Drink

Tel Aviv Fish Grill Builds on Israeli Restaurant Group Success in Tarzana

The partners behind popular Tel Aviv Grill recently opened Tel Aviv Fish Grill in Tarzana, serving each fish plate with Israeli “tapas,” hummus and pita.

Eat & Drink

Gourmet Gift Baskets: Not Your Usual Suspects

If you’re running around for last-minute food and drink gifts, these six unique and independently owned shops across the 818 are not on the “usual suspects” list—and that’s exactly why they are worth a stop. Keep this list handy for gift-giving all year long. Blue Table: This Calabasas gourmet shop makes baskets of any size and fills them […]


Artist in Residence

Students from two Valley high schools get mentored by a world-renowned artist—thanks to an innovative program at the Getty Center.