Summer 2013 – Images from University of California Press textbook “Paradise Transplanted: Migration and the Making of California Gardens” by Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo. This assignment took me throughout the San Gabriel Valley for a good three weeks, chasing down gardeners. So much so that I was having a knee-jerk reaction when I would see a pickup truck and follow it down side streets in Alhambra, San Gabriel, Arcadia, and Temple City where the homes were large, and somewhat boisterous with their green lawns. It’s a funny juxtaposition with California in the center of this drought and green yards taking on this wasteful, extravagant nature.
A few times I was asked to leave residences by nosy neighbors. The gardeners were a bit reluctant at first. My Spanish isn’t great and I was asking to not only take their picture, but also to have them sign release forms so their pictures could appear in this book. The ones who did say yes were incredibly accommodating, though most of them wanted to pose or lean on one leg to appear like some type of hero. It’s a grueling job that’s somehow been relegated to a select few to upkeep the California dream of a home with a garden.