Preserving the Historic Olive Trees of Barnsdall Art Park

The new Barnsdall Olive Grove Initiative will "help restore and sustain" the historic hilltop grove near the landmark Hollyhock House.

Barnsdall Art Park Foundation

What to Know

  • The Barnsdall Olive Grove Initiative launched on May 18, 2021
  • Barnsdall Art Park, located in East Hollywood, includes the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Hollyhock House, "LA's only UNESCO World Heritage Site"
  • Barnsdall Art Park Foundation hopes to add more trees to the olive grove

An in-city forest populated with one distinctive and storied type of tree?

City dwellers don't happen across such a pretty place all that often, in Los Angeles, California, or really anywhere else.

For sure, parks, with their lush and varied treescapes and bounties of distinctive flora, can give our urban spreads a fabulous forest-y feel, but finding a landmark landscape boasting a visitor-accessible grove that consists of a single tree, hundreds of times over, is a far more unlikely thing.

But at Barnsdall Art Park, one elegant tree, the olive tree, stands tall.

In fact, the petite peak, which has sweeping views that include Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood Sign, boasts the nickname "Olive Hill," thanks to the glorious grove of trees, a showy spread that can trace its story back to the 1800s.

Now the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation is seeking to "help restore and sustain" the olive trees, and even add new specimens to the hilltop, via the just-launched Barnsdall Olive Grove Initiative.

The City of Los Angeles and LA Parks Foundation are partners on the wide-of-scope project, which is considered a building block in LA's Green New Deal.

The preservation of the grove, and addition of new trees, would help "... to offset our carbon footprint, cool surface air temperatures, and educate the public about climate change while improving the air quality of the East Hollywood community."

The park, which is covers an expansive 11.5 acres, is also home to "LA's only UNESCO World Heritage Site," the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Hollyhock House.

Currently, there are 333 olive trees on the hillside, which has seen wine events, movie happenings, and a host of cultural and civic gatherings over the years.

Before more trees are added, a "horticultural survey and analysis" will be performed (the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation has contributed $25,000 to the Los Angeles Parks Foundation’s Adopt-a-Park program, which is helping to fund the survey, as well as aid the existing trees).

"Preserving the existing trees and propagating new, healthy olive trees into the campus's landscape is an essential step in preserving this historically significant grove that is an essential contributor to this cultural resource we all cherish, Barnsdall Art Park, and UNESCO contributor, Hollyhock House," said Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell.

There's also a lot happening in the way of celebratory occasions on the hallowed hilltop.

The Hollyhock House's construction was completed a century ago, and two 50th anniversaries are afoot: It's the half-century celebration of the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery and Gallery Theatre, while Barnsdall Art Park joined the National Registry of Historic Places 50 years ago.

You can read more here about all of the festivities ahead for these momentous milestones.

Hollyhocks, as a symbol, have long and regally reigned as a nature-nice symbol of the view-blessed spot, but the architecturally rendered flowers have always shared their symbolic crown with the real olive trees dotting the property.

Find out more about the initiative, what its mission entails, and how you can help at the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation site now.

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