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FROM THE EDITOR: Lilac Fire Destroys Local Nursery

By Susan Starr.

Rainforest Flora’s growing grounds, located at the epicenter of the Lilac Fire, on West Lilac Road, was completely destroyed by the recent wildfires.

Along with greenhouses filled with valuable plants, the homes on the property, occupied by the caretakers of the nursery, are completely gone. Rainforest Flora has been a major source of Tillandsia, Neoreglia, and staghorn ferns for Southern California. The loss of their growing grounds is a loss for the entire gardening community.

Rainforest Flora owner, Paul Isley, reports:

“Forty-three years of building a dream dedicated to the growth and promotion of the world’s most interesting group in ornamental horticulture was gone in an afternoon. Ironically, ours was the only property for a mile around that got hit and ...only about 5% of the inventory came through unscathed. Literally a few million plants were lost and for most it took six to twenty-five years to produce them..." Isley added that there were "so many irreplaceable and magnificent hybrids and rare species, most of which can’t be brought back without spending decades to grow them and, honestly, at my age that can’t happen."

"In addition, we had three employees and their families living there (who) escaped with the clothes they wore. In order to help them, our daughter, Kimberly, has set up a GoFundMe website for donations for the families.

"As for us, that remains to be seen and, again, when I think of all that irreplaceable inventory that took decades to put together, gone, poof, in a few hours of blazing fire and heat, it is just incomprehensible. The heat was so intense that it was able to bend and even melt the PVC racks that held the plants. I still can’t believe that this really happened, that it isn’t a dream.”

Donations from this campaign will go directly to the caretakers' families and towards helping to rebuild the nursery. Anyone who can help with cleanup on any day is more than welcome.

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