Tag Archives: nature

Quarantine Gardening Misadventures

By Sarah Selke

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

Over the past few weeks, which have consisted of staying primarily at home, I – like many others – have taken up a new hobby. I have attempted to acquire a green thumb. After ordering several beefsteak tomatoes, some marigolds, and a couple of eggplants from a local garden center, I began tending to my plants on a near daily basis. Within just a week, the tomato plants proved to be a success with dozens of flowers and green fruit hanging on their branches. The eggplants in the corner were sprouting large leaves and appeared to be developing at a rapid rate. The marigolds planted next to the two harvestable plants not only gave the vegetable bed a lovely splash of color but were also meant to aid in the tomatoes’ growth. Everything seemed to be going as planned.

One morning, I noticed two marigolds missing from the garden. Upon closer inspection, I realized that not only had the flowers been consumed, their entire roots had been dragged out of the soil. In addition, several large holes had appeared in the eggplants’ leaves. Perplexed by the source of this destruction, I began looking online for answers. While the marigolds had to have been uprooted by a rather large animal, the holes in the eggplant leaves suggested that they had been eaten by slugs. This required two rather complicated solutions in order to prevent further attacks on the garden. One of these was to build a wired fence around the entire vegetable bed; the other was to place small cans of essential oil mixtures next to the eggplants in order to repel the slugs.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

As it turns out, getting rid of the slugs was not a terribly difficult task, as many of them were later found in the oil mixtures. However, building a fence was a more tedious job, which required numerous attempts to complete. Once finally finished, I was quite confident that my vegetables and marigolds were now safe. Nevertheless, the next morning I was in for yet another surprise. All the remaining marigolds as well as one of the eggplants had been completely eaten. Utterly clueless as to the cause of my garden’s demolition, I scavenged the internet once again for answers. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that gophers were responsible for eating most of the plants. Unfortunately, they are much harder to get rid of, and of course there was hardly anything left for them to consume. After digging around, I discovered a large hole near where the marigolds had once been and flooded it with water and cotton balls that had been soaked in peppermint oil. Although in retrospect it is hard to say whether this would have worked in repelling them from my plants, at least there has been no further damage to the tomatoes. 

Ultimately, while gardening may seem like a rather simple and relaxing hobby to pick up, it can be quite demanding if one is unaware of potential obstacles. Perhaps the easiest thing to grow for beginner gardeners are alliums, which include green onions and garlic. These can even be grown indoors, which make them the perfect plant to cultivate while stuck inside during the pandemic. Here’s a brief article for how to grow scallions in just a glass of water: https://www.allrecipes.com/article/save-money-diy-fresh-green-onions/.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Maybe you too can pick up gardening to keep you occupied during quarantine! If you do not have an outdoor space to garden in, you can always buy an indoors terrarium and grow succulents to begin to cultivate your green thumb. Happy gardening!

Featured image by Benjamin Combs on Unsplash

Sarah is majoring in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She was born in the Los Angeles area and has lived there much of her life. In addition to English, she has some background in Mandarin Chinese, French, and basic German. In her free time, she likes reading, listening to music, photography, and cooking. Sarah went to Beijing last summer and experienced having one-on-one conversations with other local students learning English. She hopes to continue improving her Chinese and French and is interested in teaching English as a foreign language someday. Feel free to reach out to Sarah if you need any help with your English language skills.


By Sabrina Hsu

There isn’t much green in China. Beijing, China’s capital, is notorious for its horrendous pollution. So when I was given the opportunity to stay at a friend’s house in rural Qinghai, I was thrilled. Qinghai is one of the few well-preserved landscapes left in China – planes are not allowed to land anywhere near the small area and rarely do non-locals visit the place. Unfortunately, well-preserved usually comes hand in hand with underdeveloped economies and a heavy reliance on agriculture. But the experiences I had there, regardless of the poor conditions we lived in, will forever be some of the most precious and valuable memories I hold onto.

I was basking in the moonlight as I lied on the prickly grass in my friend’s backyard, looking up at a site so alien yet so familiar to me – stars crowded in the darkness, blinking down gently. I was in awe. This isn’t scenery one sees on a daily basis in China – in fact, in the 10 years I’ve been in Shanghai, there wasn’t a single day I could look up in the sky and see more than ten stars. We opted to sleep outside, on the moonlit plateau, to fully appreciate Mother Nature. Even though we ended up getting soaked from the downpour that night, it was still worth the experience. It’s an enchanting feeling to lie in the cradle of nature and let your mind run blank, concentrating on the things we usually take for granted. The noise that was usually covered up by cars honking or buildings under construction was crystal clear – birds chirped early in the morning, bugs buzzed around harmlessly, and the cattle and dogs roamed around freely, scraping at doors looking for food.

The next day, I rode in the back of a truck, my hair whipping in the wind as we drove through mountains of scenery. Though underdeveloped, the farms were kept in good shape and cattle roamed idly in the mountains. We arrived at our destination midway up a mountain. Changing into local clothes – long dresses with long sleeves that go way beyond one’s arms – I grabbed a bag of salt and started feeding the cows. I never knew cows enjoyed salt so much, but herds of old cows bounded towards me, scraping salt off my hands with their harsh tongues. In the end, I struggled away from the cows’ insatiable hunger for salt and tried to milk cows. The rhythmic movement of milking cows always looked so simple! But I failed again and again and didn’t manage to squeeze a single drop of milk out. I have plenty of embarrassing videos from that.

The entire trip was filled with so many activities and fond memories that I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it was. But I think the one day that will stick with me the most is the day I went mountain climbing – not mountains that have roads and stairs paved into them, but actual mountains that are almost 180° steep and if one falls, they fall to their death into the river hundreds of feet below. We had no harness, no map, and no guidance. The only things we had were support from one another and a lot of courage. By the end, we were exhausted physically from the climb and yelling chants to make sure we stuck together, but even more exhausted mentally from the fear of falling. To give ourselves a small celebration on achieving what seemed like the impossible though, we soaked our worn-out feet in the stream, which looked a lot gentler close up than from on the top of the mountain.

This trip taught me to open my eyes and fully appreciate the things and people around me. What we have will only become better if we make them so. It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do, as long as you put yourself into it completely, you’ll get something (good) out of it. And definitely, step out of your comfort zone and do something you think is impossible. Do something you love and always wanted to do – that’s what college is for! The friends who will stay with you for the rest of your life are the ones who will support you and stand by you when you fail or make a fool out of yourself trying something new.

Step out there and fight on!

Featured image from Pxfuel

Sabrina is studying Health and Human Sciences and minoring in Chinese for Professions and Managing Human Relations. Though born around the Bay Area, Sabrina moved to Shanghai, China at the age of 8 and has since then attended different international schools. She has 4 years of tutoring experience both in student organizations in her high school and outside of school. She was also a member of the National English Honor Society and took part in the Writing Center, which focused on editing student’s essays and helping students with their English classes. In her free time, Sabrina loves reading, hanging out with friends (exploring LA), and doing anything that makes her happy.

5 Great Places to go if You Love Nature but not Hiking

By Stephanie Wicburg

I personally am someone who loves nature. Whether it be pristine rose bushes or a nice area of grass, I love seeing the color green in my environment. However, unlike most people, while I enjoy nature, I don’t typically enjoy hiking. Therefore, if you’re like me, and want to enjoy nature without all the extra effort, check out these 5 places around Los Angeles which give you both the beauty of nature and peace of mind.

1. Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens

Photo by InSapphoWeTrust on Flickr

At this amazing hidden beauty, take the opportunity to visit yourself. You can unwind your mind walking the labyrinth, reflect in the meditation gardens, and tour the historic mansion. Given all the stress we face as students with midterms, papers, and finals, the Tranquility Garden lets you tap into the peace that nature presents and leave recharged! 

2. Kyoto Gardens (Double Tree by Hilton)

Photo by Maggie Mbroh on Flickr

The idyllic Kyoto Gardens are located in Little Tokyo, and features a lush sanctuary on its rooftop. Spanning a half-acre of manicured greenery, cascading waterfalls and tranquil ponds, the garden is a meticulous recreation of an ancient Japanese Garden in Tokyo that was originally established for the 16th century samurai lord Kiyomasa Kato. One of L.A.’s most popular event and wedding venues, Kyoto Gardens also features the outdoor Upper and Lower Terraces, as well as the Thousand Cranes room, which boasts stunning views of the garden and skyline. A beautiful place to go and enjoy both the city and nature.

3. Huntington Gardens

Photo by SmartDestinations on Flickr

The Huntington Library and Gardens is one of my personal favorites. The Botanical Gardens at the Huntington Library feature thirteen stunning themed gardens just outside Pasadena. The gardens include rare and exotic plants from around the world as well as California natives. You can easily spend all day in any one of the themed areas, such as the Japanese Garden or the Rose Garden. 

4. The Japanese Garden – Suiho En

Photo by timwinter79 on Flickr

Suiho En (“Garden of Water and Fragrance”) is a 6.5-acre authentic Japanese garden fashioned after “stroll gardens” constructed during the 18th and 19th centuries for Japanese Feudal lords. This San Fernando Valley hidden gem was created by Dr. Koichi Kawana to provide beauty, relaxation, inspiration and a better understanding of Japanese culture using reclaimed water. A stunning place to go for tranquility and to enjoy the beauties of nature.

 5. The Getty Villa and the Getty Center

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The manicured gardens at the Getty Center campus feature zigzagging walkways, a stone waterfall, and a floating maze of azaleas are surrounded by a variety of seasonal plants. However, I personally prefer the Getty Villa, which has gardens that are both beautiful and functional modeled after what existed in ancient Roman villas. The villa has four gardens that serve to blend Roman architecture with the open space planted with 300 varieties of Mediterranean plants. Stroll the gardens at either location at your leisure or take a guided tour.

Featured image by SmartDestinations on Flickr

Stephanie is a junior studying International Relations Global Business, and is a member of Thematic Options. She is from San Diego, California, and enjoys music of a large variety, reading, and watching various TV shows. Stephanie has always had an interest in languages and cultures, and is slowly learning Korean and Japanese.  Stephanie thoroughly enjoys traveling, and looks forward to opportunities to travel abroad later in her educational career.  She loves talking to people and learning about other people’s backgrounds as well as discussing a wide variety of topics.