Nature Park News (Nov. 2023)

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Park volunteers
Volunteers weeding in the Butterfly Garden during the September cleanup.

Great Start for 2023-24 Gardening Year

We had good turnouts for both the September and October cleanups. In September local volunteers spread out through the park searching for and destroying sinister castor bean seedlings. Catching them early means we won’t be fighting with six foot tall, deeply rooted beasts. We also went after horehound, another nasty perennial weed. Although it doesn’t get as big as castor bean, its seeds stick to fur and clothing – a great way to disperse its seeds. 

In October, a large group from San Gabriel High School’s Environmental Club worked with community volunteers searching and extirpating London rocket. Though this weed does not get as large as castor bean, it spreads rapidly by seed, choking out desirable native plants. (See the October Newsletter for pictures of castor bean and London rocket.)

Next Cleanup: December 16

This is a good time to remind everyone that there will be no cleanup in November. The next one will be held on December 16th. However, don’t wait until then to visit the park. It has been looking quite lovely, as you can see in the following pictures. 

Calif buckwheat, datura, and sagebrush
Drying flowers of California buckwheat next to gray-green leaves of datura. Sagebrush in the background has put on new gray leaves.
Autumn flowers
The rain from Hurricane Hilary in August and a lesser amount in early September caused many plants in the park to emerge from dormancy. In particular, bush sunflower, which we don’t usually see until February or March, greened up and burst into bloom. Consequently, early spring flowers were blooming with late summer and early fall blossoms. Bush sunflowers, annual sunflowers, golden bushes, buckwheats, penstemons, California fuchsias and even some monkey flowers were flowering together – a sight I have never seen!

December Volunteer Day

Where100 block of Pasadena Avenue in So Pas, east of York Blvd. Bridge
When: 12/16/23;  9 am – noon
Dates are tentative, so please confirm on Facebook,, or email (

Nature Park volunteers should: 

  • Wear sunscreen, hat, sunglasses
  • Bring plenty of water
  • Bring gardening gloves and tools (weeders, trowels, whatever you use in your own garden), there are extra tools and gloves for those who need them
  • Wear comfortable work clothes, including work shoes (sneakers or boots) and long pants
  • Bring binoculars for birdwatching (optional)
    (It is recommended that participants wear face masks. I use one in my own garden to help with allergens and dust.)

Children must be under adult supervision at all times. There is poison oak in the park that we will point out before starting.

The South Pas Nature Park is a four-acre habitat park along the Arroyo Seco. The entrance, marked by a small plaque on an attractive river rock wall, is in the 100 block of Pasadena Avenue in South Pasadena, east of the York Street Bridge. There is plenty of on-street parking on Pasadena Avenue.

Upcoming Cleanups and Events

Volunteer days are usually held on the third Saturday of the month from 9 am to noon. We have several new events in addition to the regular cleanups. Times and links to these events will be coming soon. 

  • DECEMBER 16, 2023, 9-12 – Park Cleanup
  • JANUARY 20, 2024, 9-12 – Park Cleanup
  • FEBRUARY 13, 2024, 7 PM – South Pasadena Public Library Sustainability Talk: Wild Suburbia – Learning to Garden with Native Plants, Speaker Barbara Eisenstein
  • FEBRUARY 17, 2024, 9-12 – Park Cleanup
  • MARCH 16, 2024, 9-12 – Park Cleanup
  • MARCH 16, 2024, SAVE-THE-DATE: South Pasadena Parks Bike Ride and Picnic (with South Pasadena Active Streets)
  • APRIL 6, 2024, 1 – 4 PM – South Pasadena Beautiful’s Garden Tour, Plant Swap, and Sustainability Fair
  • APRIL 20, 2024, 9-12 – Park Cleanup
  • MAY 18, 2024, 9-12 – Park Cleanup
  • JUNE 15, 2024, 9-12 – Park Cleanup

Dates are tentative, please confirm on Facebook,, or email


If you would like to help grow our nature park but prefer not to get into the dirt, you can donate through South Pasadena Beautiful. Be sure to include a note specifying that the donation be applied to the Nature Park.