Take a weedy, degraded, and disturbed piece of land. Gently but persistently remove weeds and encourage native plants, and slowly but surely it starts to show signs of healing. Seeing this butterfly (skipper of some kind?) suck nectar from globe gilia (Gilia capitata) with its long proboscis is one sure sign that we must be doing something right.
Since 2006 when the Friends of the Nature Park started, we have made monthly visits to the park to remove trash, report graffiti, and most importantly battle invasive weeds. Castor bean (Ricinus communis) was once a thriving forest but now we scour the park searching for seedlings, like those below, to remove. The secret to controlling this and other weeds is to get them out before they get big, and definitely before they flower and seed.
Every time I go to the Nature Park I see something that amazes me. Sometimes I see baby lizards scampering around, other times its a new flower, and still other times I see wild and weird mushrooms like this one.
Check out this bee sticking its head as far into the black sage flower as possible to get nectar, while providing the essential service of pollinating the flower.
Did you ever see one of these in your garden? Don’t kill it! Its a ladybug larva and it eats more aphids than the more mobile, and possibly cuter looking (though that’s a matter of taste), adult beetles.
The following flower is actually a non-native weed, albeit a pretty one. Scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) is not one of those invasives that covers the ground forcing out other native plants so we are not as aggressive in removing it.
Much of the southern California walnut woodlands have been lost to development, but here in the Nature Park we have some young and old walnut trees. This is the male catkin of the southern California walnut (Juglans californica).
And this is the newly formed fruit from the female flower. It will grow into a nut that is about an inch across. Although our walnuts are not the best for eating, they are used as root stock for agricultural walnut production.
The front entrance of the park is looking a bit more flowery but will quiet down as the heat of summer approaches. Few California native plants bloom during the hot, dry months. That time of year is more like winter in the rest of the country – a time for dormancy, or nearly so. Take a hint from the plants and slow down and relax in the summer.
Cleanups are not scheduled during summer, though you are encouraged to stroll through the park, especially early in the day when it isn’t too hot. Pick up litter, pull any castor bean seedlings you see, and mostly enjoy the park. If there are any problems, please contact the city. Pictured below is a South Pas police officer patrolling the park with his canine assistant.
Be sure to check the Nature Park blog for the next scheduled cleanup. Let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to receive an email reminder. Enjoy your park!