In The News

West Pasadena Residents Association Annual Meeting 2024

Pasadena Beautiful Foundation was happy to speak to members of the West Pasadena Residents Association at their annual meeting.

In The News

KCAL: “Wednesday Weeders” come together to beautify streets of Pasadena

Laurie Perez from KCAL News introduces Pasadena’s “Wednesday Weeders,” a group that comes together weekly to work on maintaining the natural beauty on city property.

In The News

Pasadena Beautiful Foundation Sustainability Report October 2023

Invasive Plant and Insect Species Duo  Ailanthus altissima and Spotted Lanternfly

Photo Credit: Joseph DiTomaso

The Ailantus altissima is also known as the tree-of-heaven; Chinese sumac; Stinky Tree and, here in Pasadena, the Tree of Hell.

It is native to China and was first introduced as an ornamental tree in the Eastern United States in the 1700’s and was found in nurseries by the 1840s.  Due to its prolific seed capacity and creeping root system, it soon escaped Eastern gardens, and established itself in the wild. It is now considered a dreaded invasive species throughout the United States.

It is believed to have been established in California during Gold Rush days in in the mid 1800s through Chinese immigrants. It has migrated to other regions of California and is typically found primarily in disturbed, semi-natural habitats along roadways. 

Over time, it has spread exponentially in our local area along freeway, in parks and even in our own backyards.

This fast growing deciduous tree is considered invasive because of its ability to establish, spread quickly and dominate landscapes, as well as its ability to suppress surrounding vegetation because it secretes a toxin. 

It has large, compound leaves with often asymmetrical l leaflets which can smell like rancid peanut butter. The fruits are crescent shaped and are called samaras. The trees produce thousands of seeds each year. 

The fast growth of the tree also causes issues in the urban canopy because they can interfere with power lines and cause the risk of fire and other disasters. 

Eradicating the trees takes care because simply cutting off the growth without applying a growth suppressant or removing the root can cause dozens of new shoots to spread out from the roots and establish a forest of new seedlings. Removing them when they are small and the root removed is best. 

There are several helpful videos on youtube that provide detailed instructions on eradicating the trees when they are larger specimens. 

Spotted Lanternfly

The proliferation of the tree of hell has sounded another alert because it is the preferred host for an invasive insect pest called the Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula). This insect was first reported in Pennsylvania in 2014 and has been intercepted on airplanes headed to California from the East Coast. It can be destructive to other tree species as well as food crops.

Kill or catch the Spotted Lanternfly to stop the spread

In The News

Pasadena Now: Golden Arrow Awards Earned By the 27 Most Stunning Front Yards in Pasadena


Published on Thursday, May 18, 2023 | 6:09 am

Most — but not all — of Pasadena Beautiful’s proud 2023 Golden Arrow awardees. Pictured at the awards ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 [Photos: Robin Banks and Eddie Rivers/Pasadena Now]
(Larger Photos below)

Just inside the Western Justice Center on Grand Avenue, itself awash in a sea of roses in its own front garden, twenty Pasadena homeowners were awarded Pasadena Beautiful Foundation’s Golden Arrow award Wednesday, for their stunning home garden creations. 

“This event is a high point in our year. We get to acknowledge the beautiful homes in Pasadena,” said Pasadena Beautiful Foundation President Greg King, “and the very special care that the homeowners individually have taken on their property.

“It’s an egalitarian event,” King continued. “We have nine districts in the City of Pasadena, and we have two volunteers who go out and drive every inch of the city, and then they select six gardens (in each district) that they think are the best gardens, and then the next two judges whittle those down to three.”

Eventually,  the organization selects three from each district, for a total of 27 winners. Twenty of the winners were presented on Wednesday. Winners were presented with a large golden arrow-shaped lawn sign to proudly display in their gardens, along with a certificate of merit.

Wednesday’s ceremony provided an unexpected bit of levity when the opening host noted that homes with “Christmas lights still up, or with gnomes or plastic deer in the yard,” would not be acceptable. 

So when the first winners, Marshall and Vivian Kwong, proudly stepped up to receive their award, Marshall gleefully pointed to a tiny section in  their home garden, displayed on a large projection screen for all to see.

There, deep in the shrubbery, was a gnome.

This year’s 2023 Golden Arrow Final recipients are:

  • Marshall and Vivian Kwong
  • Gail Rolf, Angela Williams, and Martine Ibarra
  • Lorne Buchman & Rochelle Shapell
  • Linda Eliana Paquette
  • David and Cathy Chun
  • Stephen Rodriguez  
  • Glenn and Larissa Costa Evans
  • Kelly F. Duke and Dr. Cheryl Resnick
  • Joyce and Robert Wolf
  • Boualem Bousseloub and Sharon Calkin
  • Patrick Geraghty and Daniel Ellis-Ferris
  • Chiara Tellina
  • Jeff and Elizabeth Freeland
  • Carlos and Sarah Foglia
  • Mario Voyatzis
  • The Cordova-Wagner Family
  • Justin Wikke and Danika Wikke
  • José and Janice Mercadé
  • Aileen Frias and Paul Dimapawi
  • Chris and April Goodwin

As President King noted after the awards, “Whether you’re in Madison Heights, or whether you’re on the west side of the Arroyo, it doesn’t matter, because everyone has an equal chance of shining and looking beautiful.”

In The News

Pasadena Now: Pasadena Beautiful Foundation to Recognize the Best Front Yard Gardens in the City at Wednesday Ceremony


Published on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 | 5:40 am

Pasadena Beautiful Foundation will award outstanding front yard gardens in the city as part of its annual Golden Arrow Awards on Wednesday, a competition which acknowledges residents who contribute to the beautification of Pasadena through their efforts in enhancing and maintaining their front yards.

The ceremony is set to take place at the Western Justice Center, located at 55 South Grand Avenue.

The event starts at 4:30 p.m., beginning with a short reception, followed by a slideshow of the winners and the presentation of certificates and Golden Arrow signs to the homeowners.

For the competition, the Pasadena Beautiful Foundation has divided the city into nine areas. For the initial phase, the organization selected six outstanding gardens from each of the nine areas and for the final phase, only three will be selected, for a total of 27 winners.

The competition accepts nominations for one’s own garden or those of neighbors. Those who have won the award in the last five years are not eligible. 

“Because of the drought and the horrible dry conditions that we had prior to this winter. We’ve been looking at yards that are water wise, that encourage natives to grow,” Pasadena Beautiful Foundation President Greg King said.

At the ceremony, the awards will be presented to 27 single-family homeowners for their achievements in creating front yard gardens that contribute to the aesthetic appeal of their streets and neighborhoods. 

“They’ll talk about the project and how they went about transforming their yard, and what sort of thought process they went through. And occasionally, they’ll have their landscape architects with them, and they’re most excited to share their stories,” said King.

Pasadena Beautiful Foundation has organized the Golden Arrow Awards annually to encourage people to contribute to the beautification of Pasadena.

“Our organization was formed in 1960 and there were parts of Pasadena, especially along Colorado Boulevard, that were just not terribly nice,” said King.

“And so the founders of Pasadena Beautiful decided that they would put together an event like the Golden Arrows to encourage pride of neighborhood and many years later, it shows how successful this particular event has been in beautifying Pasadena.”

Aside from the annual Golden Arrow Award, the nonprofit also preserves and protects the Street Tree Canopy. It also funds and revitalizes public gardens for the public to enjoy.

For more information about the Golden Arrow Awards, visit:

In The News

Arbor Day 2023

Help plant trees in celebration of Arbor Day! Pasadena Beautiful Foundation and The City of Pasadena will be planting trees and have free mulch available for pickup.

Join us on Saturday, April 29, 2023 from 8am to 12pm at Jefferson Park in Pasadena. Click here for more information.

Above: Image of Pasadena Beautiful Foundation receiving the Arbor Day proclamation.

In The News

Ficus Trees Planted on Green Street: Bringing Trees and Sidewalks To Life

From Pasadena Now, March 10, 2023:

Nearly thirty Ficus Macrocarpa trees, commonly known as the Indian Laurel Fig,  have been planted recently on Green Street between Marengo and Hill Avenue, in the latest community planting project by the all-volunteer Pasadena Beautiful Foundation. 

These trees were handpicked and tagged by Emina Darakjy, who spearheaded the project for Pasadena Beautiful, and were planted by a City-provided contractor who also installed root barriers to prevent sidewalk damage that can be caused by the Ficus’ strong roots. 

“The Pasadena Beautiful  Foundation was founded in 1960,” explained Darakjy, a past president of Pasadena Beautiful and current Tree Program chair. “We work with individuals, community organizations and the city to restore,  to renew and protect Pasadena’s Parks, its urban forest and public spaces.”

Darakjy continued, “We continue to  partner with the city, to supplement their tree planting program.  We also co-sponsor Arbor Days and pay for the trees that are planted.  Over the years we have planted and paid for hundreds of trees in parkways, parks and in schools.”

 The 28 Green Street trees were paid for from the foundation’s  Tree Fund, said Darakjy, along with a generous $ 10,000 donation from a “local family foundation.” The total cost for the tree planting was $36,400.

As Darakjy explained, Foundation tree planting sites are first surveyed and approved by the City’s forestry division. Planting spots are then marked with a white line on the curb, and the city notifies Dig Alert to mark any utility lines before any trees are planted.

Assistance for the planning was provided by Public Works Director Tony Olmos; Eric Mirzaian, Public Works Administrator for Street Maintenance; and Faustino Joya, Crew Supervisor/Forestry Inspector, and his crew. 

“It was a very much appreciated team effort,” said Darakjy, who grew up in Morocco, where she first developed her love for trees. 

“I have always had a passion for nature and trees,” she told Pasadena Now in a recent interview. “I trace it back to when I was young growing up in Morocco,  next to Maamoura Forest on the outskirts of Rabat,  one of the largest cork oak forests in the world, and enjoying many Sundays picnicking under these majestic trees.”

In The News

Press Release: Golden Arrow Awards 2023


Pasadena Beautiful Foundation Golden Arrow Awards

Pasadena Beautiful Foundation is excited to announce the beginning of the Golden Arrow Awards season. Beginning Wednesday, March 15 through April 19, Pasadena Beautiful volunteers will be driving throughout the city in search of homes and gardens that stand out in their neighborhoods. We welcome nominations either of your own home and garden or one of your neighbors. Our special awards ceremony will be held on May 17 at the Western Justice Center. For nominations or questions, please reach us at   [email protected] or (626) 795-9704. 

Sincerely, Susan Osen

From Pasadena Now: Pasadena Beautiful Foundation Hunts Curb Appeal in Search for City’s Best Front Yards

February 27, 2023

Pasadena Beautiful Foundation has announced the beginning of the Golden Arrow Awards season, a competition that aims to recognize residents who help beautify their neighborhoods by enhancing and maintaining their front yards. 

The competition will run from Wednesday, March 15, through April 19, with Pasadena Beautiful volunteers driving throughout the city to search for homes and gardens that stand out in their neighborhoods.

Susan Osen, on behalf of the Foundation, said the Foundation welcomes nominations either of one’s own home and garden or those of one’s neighbors. 

The Golden Arrow Awards season offers Pasadena residents a chance to showcase their creativity and commitment to beautifying their community.

The organization has divided the city map into nine areas and will select six outstanding gardens from each of the nine areas for the initial phase. For the final phase, only three will be selected, for a total of 27 winners. 

The emphasis is on the front yard, but the overall appearance of the residence is also being considered in choosing the winners. The organization is looking for curb appeal, harmony between the house and garden, and clear evidence of pride of ownership and investment in the front yard.

PBF President Greg King noted that the organization also needs to be able to see the front yard. Houses that are covered up by a hedge or are not visible from the street will not be considered. Leaving Christmas lights and trash cans visible from the street will also disqualify a residence from consideration. King also noted that previous winners of the Golden Arrow within the last five years are not eligible to win the award again.

Pasadena residents can nominate their garden or other gardens in their neighborhood by sending an email to PBF. For nominations or questions, residents can email [email protected] or call (626) 795-9704. 

Winners will be selected at the end of April, and a ceremony for the recipients will be held on May 17, at 5 p.m. at The Maxwell House located along South Grand Avenue. At the ceremony, winners will be invited to discuss their garden and house and the story of what they did to create a house and garden worthy of winning the Golden Arrow.

In The News

Pasadena Now: Residents Help Beautify Business Area, Enhance Water-Use Efficiency at Neighborhood Planting and Mulching Day

Published on Saturday, December 10, 2022 | 5:41 am

Image: City of Pasadena

Members of community organizations such as Pasadena Beautiful Foundation, Bungalow Heaven Neighborhood Association, and the City’s Youth Ambassadors program along with other residents were enthusiastic participants in a Neighborhood Planting and Mulching Day hosted by Pasadena Water and Power recently at a parking lot on Washington Blvd. and Lake Ave.

The event was the culmination of a six-month multi-departmental project between PWP, Public Works, Transportation, and Housing, MASH, and the Office of Economic Development to upgrade the site, PWP Interim General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said. Work included lighting upgrades, parking lot improvements, and landscape and irrigation retrofits.

Kightlinger’s report said over 26 volunteers, together with PWP, staff planted a variety of drought-tolerant plants throughout the site and 14 new Carolina Cherry Laurel trees. Volunteers also applied mulch throughout the site to enhance soil health and moisture retention.

PWP also hosted workshops onsite on proper planting and mulching techniques and drip irrigation at the Nov. 12 event. Beforehand, City staff prepared the site by completing irrigation repairs and installing high-efficiency spray heads and drip systems, Kightlinger said.

PWP offers multiple programs to residents and businesses to support water-use efficiency, including rebates for irrigation improvements, turf removal, and landscape retrofits.

To learn more and view PWPs online library of water-use efficiency workshops, visit

In The News

Pasadena Water and Power and Pasadena Beautiful Foundation Collaboration

On Saturday November 12, members of the Pasadena Beautiful Foundation joined forces with Pasadena Water and Power for a “Neighborhood Planting and Mulching” day in North Pasadena.  

Volunteers from Bungalow Heaven and “The Ambassadors”, a high school group pitched in to help with the cleanup and planting of an urban space near Lake and Washington streets.  Pasadena City Councilwoman, Felicia Williams was also happy to roll up her sleeves and pitch in!

Everyone’s hard work paid off with a lovely new drought resistant array of plants.  Special thanks to our PBF volunteers who joined in to enhance yet another corner of our beautiful city. 

In The News

Golden Arrow Award Winner Photos 2022

The Golden Arrow Awards is one of our signature annual event.   27 awards are given to single-family homeowners to celebrate their efforts in creating front yard gardens that help beautify their streets and neighborhood.  

In The News

New Board Member

Pasadena Beautiful Foundation is pleased to announce our newest Board Member, Andrea Atanay.

Andrea went to Westridge for high school and graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1994.

She is currently a Morgan Stanley Vice President, Portfolio Management Director &  Family Wealth Advisor.  Andrea began her career in the Financial Services industry 28 years ago. She began her journey on a trading desk at a start-up firm in Downtown LA and over the years rose up through the ranks to become one of only two, female Financial Advisors at Merrill Lynch in Downtown LA in 2009.

She has received several awards from Morgan Stanley and has served on the Diversity Council for the Pacific Coast Region. She is on the board of Grandview Foundation and was the previously Board Chair for AIDS Service Center and a past board member for the San Gabriel Educational Foundation as Chair of Business Development.

Being a mixed media artist, she continues to pursue her lifelong passion for the arts as well as music. She considers her most important job to being a mom to her two teenagers.

In The News


By CYNTHIA YANG, Weekendr Staff Writer


The Oscars have glitz and prestige, as do TV’s Emmy Awards and a handful of others. But for a loyal and dedicated group of Pasadenans, all of the awards presented in the world—from the Espy to the Clio—pale next to the Golden Arrow Awards, presented by the Pasadena Beautiful Foundation.

This year’s awards will be presented, after a two-year pandemic pause, on Wednesday at the Western Justice Center, 55 South Grand Avenue, in Pasadena, at 4:30 p.m.

It is traditionally the Foundation’s signature annual event. Twenty-seven awards are given to single-family homeowners to celebrate their efforts in creating front yard gardens that help beautify their streets and neighborhood.

As Pasadena Beautiful Foundation President Brad Hanson told Pasadena Now recently, the foundation itself was founded in 1960. 

“The organization was started as a way to improve the city and to try to beautify the city,” he said.

“In the early days, they were trying to think of different ways that they could go about doing it,” Hanson continued. “And in the 1960s, the city of Pasadena had neighborhoods that were in decline, and Old Pasadena was not in great shape. And so it was around the idea of really trying to improve the city that the organization was started.” 

Having done a lot of sifting through archives recently, Hanson is still not exactly sure when the Golden Arrow awards were started.

It just kind of happened,” he laughed, “sometime after 1960.”

But the reasons for such an award remain just as viable, said Hanson. 

“The founders had this idea that if we awarded houses and gardens that stood out in the neighborhood, it would be a way to encourage other neighbors to  try to do the same thing. And it becomes kind of contagious.” 

“Now you see Golden Arrows all around the city,” said Hanson, “and we’re constantly being asked, ‘What do you have to do to win a golden arrow?’  And ‘How come that guy got it and I didn’t?’ Those kinds of things. 

“It was just a way to encourage people to continue improving their gardens and making sure that the house and garden go well together,” added Hanson.

The selection process begins in March of each year.

The city map is divided into nine areas.  In March, the first round, PBF volunteers drive down each street to view and select six outstanding gardens from each of the nine areas.  A second team then reviews these eight semi-finalists to choose the final three.  The winners are then invited to attend a reception and an award ceremony held in May. 

Yes, you can nominate your own home for a Golden Arrow award, he said. 

As Hanson explained, “Absolutely. We get both people who think highly of their own yard and so they nominate themselves, which is fine.” But,  lest one think that being nominated by a neighbor might help things along, that is not the case,

“Nominating by itself doesn’t necessarily give you a leg up,” said Hanson. “Just because you’re nominated by a homeowner or a neighbor, you’re still subject to the critical eye of the team that’s making the decision.” 

The Pasadena Beautiful Foundation Golden Arrow Awards, Wednesday,  May 25, at the Western Justice Center, 55 South Grand Avenue, in Pasadena, at 4:30 p.m. For more, click here.

In The News

Arbor Day 2022 Photos

On April 30, 2022 the City of Pasadena in partnership with Pasadena Beautiful Foundation hosted an Arbor Day event where they planted 25 trees near Robinson Park Recreation Center in Pasadena.

In The News

Arbor Day 2022 Video

On April 30, 2022 the City of Pasadena in partnership with Pasadena Beautiful Foundation hosted an Arbor Day event where they planted 25 trees near Robinson Park Recreation Center in Pasadena. This video was produced by Bobbie Ferguson, the Director of Production for Pasadena Media.

In The News

Pasadena Now: Pasadena Beautiful Will Mark Arbor Day With Community Tree Planting at Robinson Park on Saturday

Published on Friday, April 29, 2022 | 6:17 am

Pasadena Beautiful Foundation is celebrating Arbor Day on Saturday, April 30, with a community tree-planting event at Robinson Park, in cooperation with the Department of Public Works and Council District 3.

Starting at 8 a.m. in the south parking lot, staff from the Department of Public Works will provide a tree planting demonstration, and then take teams of volunteers to plant trees in the surrounding area.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this will be the first time in three years that Pasadena Beautiful is able to celebrate Arbor Day as a community gathering, said Brad Hanson, President of Pasadena Beautiful Foundation.

“It’ll be nice to get back to work and to be able to plant some great trees in the city,” Hanson said. “We move around the city for Arbor day. We don’t stick to just one area. We obviously want to do plantings all around the city in various neighborhoods or parks, and it’s hard to tell how many people will attend, but we usually get a pretty good turnout.”

The organizers will make tree care information available, and giveaways and light refreshments will be provided. Free mulch will also be available for pickup.

“We will be planting some jacarandas, some live oaks, some silver-dollar gum trees and a strawberry tree, and more than one of those,” Hanson continued. “So it’s a diversified group of trees but selected by our tree expert, Emina Darakjy, who understands which trees do best in certain areas. So hopefully they’ll last for generations to come.”

Pasadena Beautiful was founded in 1960, and one of its primary goals from then on was to plant street trees to enhance the beauty of Pasadena. Currently, in accordance with the City’s Master Street Tree guidelines, the Foundation’s tree expert hand-selects each tree for a specific site, and trained professionals supervise the planting and maintenance of trees to ensure a healthy tree canopy for the City.

Pasadena is known as one of the ‘tree cities’ in America, and Pasadena Beautiful attributes much of that to the community coming together on Arbor Day yearly, planting trees as well as advocating that trees are important for fighting climate change and for lowering the temperature.

“If you look at Pasadena from space, I think you can see the wonderful canopy that we have,” Hanson said. “This is a result of just planting trees over the decades. And now we’re reaping the benefits because just in the city, we’ve got a wonderful urban canopy of trees.”

On Saturday, participants are advised to dress appropriately – with closed-toe shoes, jeans, and sun protection. The event could last up to 12 noon.

For more information, visit To RSVP for the tree-planting event, email [email protected].

Robinson Park is located at 1081 N. Fair Oaks Ave.

In The News

PCF Grant Brings Springtime Blossoms to Victory Park

Victory Park in northeast Pasadena is showcasing beautiful springtime colors this month, thanks to the recent replanting of 25 cherry trees. In late 2021, Pasadena Community Foundation awarded a capital grant to Pasadena Beautiful Foundation to fund the project, which focused on replacing “Pink Cloud” cherry trees, many of which were lost in the last decade to Bacterial Blight, with the hardier “Akebono” variety. Pasadena Beautiful planted the new trees earlier this month.

Pasadena Beautiful past president Emika Darakjy, who currently serves as the president of the California Urban Forests Council, selected the trees for Victory Park. She notes that “the Akebono variety is prevalent in Washington, D.C and Japan. They start with tight pink buds, open to white, and fade to a soft pink. The blossoms tend to hang on the tree longer.”

Besides brightening the park’s paths and expanding Pasadena’s urban canopy, the new cherry trees continue to commemorate our city’s cultural connection to Japan. Beginning in the early 2000s, the Cherry Blossom Festival SoCal donated 500 cherry trees to Pasadena to celebrate the history of Japanese Americans in the Pasadena area. The festival allowed the community at large to come together annually to understand this history. Victory Park hosted the festival in 2003 and 2004 and received a gift of 75 cherry trees. About 50 of those trees continue to thrive in Victory Park. In 2012, additional trees were planted to commemorate the centennial of Washington D.C.’s cherry trees, which were a gift from the Japanese people and the Mayor of Tokyo in 1912. Combined, the new and mature trees create colorful walkways throughout the busy park in northeast Pasadena.

In The News

Wednesday Weeders: Western Justice Center

Pasadena Beautiful Foundation has included the gardens at the Western Justice Center to its list for Wednesday Weeders. 

This March several scoops of mulch were delivered for the front rose sections and adjacent gardens.  Mulch is a good addition to keep the weeds at bay and to retain moisture during our long hot summers.  

Check out PBF volunteers who were on hand to spread the mulch.

In The News

New Board Member

Pasadena Beautiful Foundation is pleased to announce our newest Board Member, Sara Edwards.  

Sara Edwards is a native Southern Californian who grew up in San Marino. After majoring in Communications at UCLA, she launched a career in journalism working as the first woman to do on air reporting at KLAS TV in Las Vegas, Nevada.  She was the co-host of Evening Magazine in Boston and later became their theatre and film critic. During that stint she won three New England Emmys for her work.  She also was inducted into the New England Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

Sara is Vestry member at St. Edmunds and is in charge of their annual fundraiser.  She is also organizing a speaker series there called “Inspiring Voices” in tribute to her mother.  She currently resides in Pasadena.

In The News

Pasadena Community Foundation 2021 Grant

Pasadena Beautiful Foundation (PBF) has been awarded a 2021 Pasadena Community Foundation (PCF) Capital Grant for $16,250. We want to thank the PCF for this generous grant that will assist us in achieving our mission to restore, renew and protect Pasadena’s parks, urban forests, and public spaces. 

We are excited that this grant will support the re-planting of 25 cherry trees in Victory Park, in the Northeast area of the city. Many of the original Pink Cloud Cherry trees that were planted in the park in the early 2000 have been damaged. The new trees will be planted sometime early next year in time for spring blooms. Below are some photos when they are in full bloom. Stay tuned for more information on event regarding the re-planting.