Fern Dell

Julian Martel, 3, of Los Angeles plays with a branch he found on the Fern Dell trail in Griffith Park. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times / February 10, 2012)

Of the many indignities visited upon Fern Dell, the garden oasis in Griffith Park, one remains a mystery: Who turned off the water?

Starlets and health-seekers lined up in the 1920s to fill jugs from the spring that fed this 20-acre fantasia of ferns, footpaths and picturesque bridges. They thought it was a fountain of youth. Now, only the lower stream beds run, and the pools lie motionless and gummy.

You might think the city would do something. But instead, Friends of Griffith Park — the nonprofit group that stepped in three years ago to try to reverse the 95-year-old garden's long, sad decline — is on the case.

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-- Gale Holland, Los Angeles Times