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Beautiful but Risky

Articles: Beautiful but Risky

"The most dangerous places are often the most attractive places to live.” So spoke Stephen Orr, garden editor of House & Garden magazine, in his opening remarks at the recent Fresh Design seminar, cosponsored by the Garden Conservancy and Pacific Horticulture. He made specific reference to San Francisco and New Orleans, two of the most appealing cities on the continent. Both have suffered from the most catastrophic natural disasters the country has known: San Francisco just observed the 100th anniversary of the big quake of 1906; New Orleans is still recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina—and will likely be doing so for years to come.

Stephen could have been referring to many places here in the West, where torrential winter rains produce massive flooding and landslides, fires burn fiercely on the urban fringe, and earthquakes disrupt cities and lives. And yet, who among us gardeners, given the option, would chose to live elsewhere—would give up this favored gardening climate for the heat and humidity, ice and snow, or intense aridity of other parts of the country? I thought of Stephen’s comments as I absorbed the news of a tragedy for friends in the hills above Mil...


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