Nature Park Blooms Away

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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 ( if you would like to receive an email reminder. Enjoy your park!


8 thoughts on “Nature Park Blooms Away

  1. j

    beautiful!! I love the mushroom especially. I have family duties on Sat am but look forward to joining again after the school year ends

  2. That is a spectacular mushroom…and that little bee looks like he ordered a hat that was two sizes too small! So glad you're winning the war against the Castor Bean. French Broom has been our persistent problem here. Slowly but surely we seem to be beating it back.

  3. That's so encouraging! Really glad this is working out so well.

  4. Good to hear about the restoration work you all do. That mushroom is very bizarre, but cool.

  5. Thanks to all for the support. It is hard to get people to come during the cleanups, but it is obvious that many pick up litter and pull weeds at other times. The longer I work in the Nature Park, the more I enjoy it. It is certainly not without frustration but I am convinced that we are making progress.<br /><br />CVF – broom is a nightmare! Keep at it!

  6. Wonderful photos! I love that you captured the little scarlet pimpernel.<br /><br />Castor beans – there are a lot of them here in Topanga growing wild. I&#39;d always known them as an ornamental in other gardens. They really are striking – if they weren&#39;t so bad!

  7. Why didn&#39;t you tell the story about when we went to the farmers market and bought all of the ladybug larvae?? And then found that you already had tons in your yard, when we went to release them. We are excited for a praying mantis filled yard to hopefully eat all the bad guys from our yard this year! Just waiting for them to hatch. Can&#39;t wait to see the garden in just a few weeks!

  8. Linda, well one does get a bit more observant with practice. We get lots of praying mantises here. One year I watched a male/female/male threesome – got some great pictures – and as far as I could tell no one lost <b>his</b> life! Bugs are all just too cool.<br /><br />Aunt Snow – I remember castor beans plants from when I was growing up on Long Island in NY. There the frost does them in – here

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