The Barnsdall Art Park Foundation announced Monday an effort to plant additional trees in Barnsdall Park to restore the park’s historic olive grove.
The Barnsdall Art Park Foundation contributed $25,000 to L.A.’s Adopt-a-Park program to pay for a survey and analysis of the existing olive grove, the necessary care for the park’s 333 olive trees and the development of a strategy to plant new olive trees in the park. The foundation is also raising money for the planting of the additional olive trees through the Los Angeles Park Forest Program, an initiative to add trees to city parks to cool surface air temperatures, reduce carbon and educate the public about climate change.
The 11.5-acre East Hollywood park includes the city’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House, which was built in 1921. The property, then-known as “Olive Hill,” held about 1,225 olive tree and was used as a commercial orchard before being purchased by philanthropist and oil heiress Alina Barnsdall. In honor of the 100th anniversary of the house’s completion, the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation created a fundraising campaign to restore the historic olive grove in support of the city’s efforts to conserve and improve the park’s landscape, infrastructure, public programs and exhibitions.
“The Department of Recreation and Parks is extremely grateful for the partnership we have with the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation and the Los Angeles Parks Foundation,” said Mike Shull, general manager of the Department of Recreation and Parks. “We appreciate their commitment to ensuring that the Barnsdall Park historic olive grove continues to be a healthy landscape of olive trees that the East Hollywood community, visitors, and generations to come can enjoy.”
Barnsdall commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build her home and a theatrical arts complex. Wright preserved the olive grove and incorporated it into his plans, but after Barnsdall’s death in 1946, the property was subdivided into separate residential and commercial parcels. By 1992, only 90 olive trees were preserved.
“During our soil analysis and assessment of the condition and health of the site, we discovered that 19 olive trees are likely from the original grove established in the 1890s,” said Los Angeles Parks Foundation Project Manager and Horticulturist, Katherine Pakradouni. “Those fruiting trees have produced 58 seedlings that are growing near the older tree canopies. We are hopeful that those special seedlings may be nurtured into vibrant saplings at the Los Angeles Parks Foundation headquarters at the historic Commonwealth Nursery in Griffith Park and replanted at Barnsdall Art Park or other locations throughout the city.”
Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who represents the park in the Los Angeles City Council, called the park a “unique and priceless gem in the city of Los Angeles” and praised the effort to restore the olive grove.
“Preserving the existing trees and propagating new, healthy olive trees into the campus landscape is an essential step in preserving this historically significant grove that is an essential contributor to this cultural resource we all cherish, Barnsdall Art Park, and UNESCO contributor, Hollyhock House,” he said.
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