The Sunland Welcome Nature Garden is one of many community beautification and restoration projects completed by Roger Klemm has completed since moving to the area in 1989.
In 2011, with the help of the community, Klemm instigated the Sunland Welcome Nature Garden, a native plant makeover of a community entrance garden. The project involved removing an expansive hillside of invasive, combustible Fountain Grass. From there, Klemm instigated a native plant propagation effort that at its peak included over 50 different species, totaling several hundred plants. The garden was planted in 2013, and has expanded to the Wildflowering Annex across the street. As all gardens, it continues to evolve over time.
The Sunland Welcome Nature Garden builds upon Klemm’s long history of community contributions. Since buying their first house in Lake View Terrace in 1989, Klemm has been interested in environmentally sensible landscaping. He and his wife landscaped the yard of their first house in climate-appropriate and California native plants, enjoying a lush and interesting yard without using much water or slaving over the lawn mower every week.
While living in Lake View Terrace, Klemm was active in the community with an interest in plants native to the state of California that are appropriate for landscaping in the area. As a board member of the Lake View Terrace Improvement Association, he coordinated a grant of almost $5000 from California ReLeaf to plant 103 “environmentally tolerant, large-canopied, quality trees” in the parks and schools of Lake View Terrace in 1995. More than 20 years later, many of these trees are now mature, providing shade and other benefits for the community.
Klemm was involved with the Lake View Terrace Garden Club for six years, and coordinated the renovation of an ornamental garden at the intersection of Osborne Street and Foothill Boulevard. The goals of the garden renovation were to reduce water consumption and increase visual interest. The new plantings featured a much more efficient watering system, and drought-tolerant plants native to California and the Mediterranean, including species which are endangered or extinct in the wild. Sadly, this garden was not retained when the Discovery Cube was built.
Klemm has volunteered for the Theodore Payne Foundation in La Tuna Canyon, was a board member of the Verdugo/San Rafael Chapter of the Small Wilderness Area Preservation, and was active in renovation efforts at the Tujunga Ponds. He attended the TreePeople Citizen Forester class in the fall of 1994, and was involved with TreePeople through the four planting events of the California ReLeaf grant mentioned above.
After moving to Shadow Hills in 1996, Klemm renovated the entire yard of his house on Walnut Drive with mostly California native plants to create a more visually interesting alternative to a plain lawn. In addition, the new landscape has the benefits of lower maintenance and water needs, a key factor in landscaping with native plants. The hummingbirds and butterflies enjoy the new landscaping, too, as have visitors on the Theodore Payne Foundation’s native plant garden tours in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2017.
Roger Klemm, a Shadow Hills resident, works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena where he writes, integrates, tests and operates software for interplanetary spacecraft and space-based research experiments. He graduated from Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in 1987. He is a member of the Sunland Tujunga Shadow Hills Rotary Club, and currently serves as the club president.