Twelve residents of La Mesa receive Spirit Award from La Mesa Beautiful

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On July 9, La Mesa Beautiful gave twelve residents of La Mesa Spirit Awards for their creative home landscapes showcasing drought-tolerant plants and other water-saving features. 

“The purpose of La Mesa Beautiful,” explained President Sharon Fitzpatrick, “is to promote, coordinate and advance beautification activities to make La Mesa a more beautiful place to live.”

On July 9, La Mesa Beautiful gave twelve residents of La Mesa Spirit Awards for their creative home landscapes showcasing drought-tolerant plants and other water-saving features. 

“The purpose of La Mesa Beautiful,” explained President Sharon Fitzpatrick, “is to promote, coordinate and advance beautification activities to make La Mesa a more beautiful place to live.”

The activities with which La Mesa Beautiful gets involved include helping kids at school plant trees during Arbor Week. The organization works to improve landscapes of parks, schools and streets.

La Mesa Beautiful also offers scholarships to horticulture students at El Capitan High School.

The annual meeting at the Nan Couts Cottage had a good turnout of forty people to laud the winners and hear their stories. 

Michael Frasier was given a Spirit Award for the complete overhaul of his house and yard. “I literally tore the old house down and completely filled in the yard with new plants,” he said.

Frasier explained that as a child his mother always had him work in the yard as his chores. “Thanks, Mom,” said Frasier to his mother who was sitting in the audience. 

“Truth is, all my plants are break-offs from her own yard. So the total cost for my yard was only eight dollars,” he said, adding that his water bill has gone down from $180 to $70.

The Pykle family, who lives just down the street from Frasier, also won a Spirits award. Morse said she had been instantly impressed with the inviting front yard. “They have a grape arbor in front, beautiful fruit trees and bushes everywhere,” Morse said.

The Pykles live at the house with their daughter, Charity George, and their three granddaughters.

George does most of the work in the yard. “I’m a chef, so I love to have fruits and herbs of all kinds available in my yard.

“If any of you ever want some boysenberry plants, I’ll give some to you,” she said.

George also has planted many succulents in her yard. “I’m a succulent addict,” she said, laughing. 

Sharing the same passion for succulents are Richard and JoAnn Cando, whose yard is filled with them. They have lived at their house on Porter Hill Terrace for 32 years. Their adventures in landscaping began for them five years ago when they started with an interior remodel of their home. When the contractors ripped out the old tiles from the floor of their home, they decided to use the tiles for a dry creek bed in their yard.

Once the Candos got started in redoing their yard, they kept adding more plants, so that in springtime, their yard looks like a fairytale garden. Matilija Poppies with their delicate petals like crepe paper adorn the yard. Purchased at the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College, the poppies are a favorite of JoAnn’s. 

“They are such happy flowers,” she said.

The Candos’ yard also has dozens of lady’s slipper plants, and they planted succulents everywhere—which the whole family enjoys, including the Candos’ granddaughter.

“When she was preparing for prom, my granddaughter asked me if I could make her a corsage out of succulents,” JoAnn said. “I was thrilled that she asked me to do something like that for her. She was the only one who had such a corsage. She set a fashion trend, and the very next year, everyone was wearing them.”

The Candos’ neighbors Jeff and Julie Jones were also winners of the Spirit Award. “We started out with a bare lot at our house. And now we are very honored to be a winner,” said Julie.

“I have been so impressed with the way our winners this year have helped each other, and been generous with their ideas and plant cuttings. That definitely makes La Mesa a more beautiful city,” said Fitzpatrick.

Morse agreed. “We all want to help keep La Mesa the jewel that it is,” she said. 

La Mesa Beautiful is currently looking for a board member. “We want someone who can be advocate of our organization, be enthusiastic and a team player. It is a lot of fun to work with us,” Fitzpatrick said. 

For more information, go to www.lamesabeautiful.org.

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