Nature park planting party was a big success

Download PDF

Three hundred, one-gallon native, coastal sage scrub plants were purchased from El Nativo Growers with discretionary funds from city councilmember, Rick Schneider. The plants were delivered to the South Pasadena Woodland and Wildlife Park on Friday, January 27, 2012, and with the help of three volunteers, we quickly unloaded the truck, counted the plants, and separated them into groups that would be placed in different locations around the park.

Small group of deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens) and a coast sunflower (Encelia californica) to be planted on Pasadena Avenue at the entrance of the park. We have tried quite a few things including Pacific Coast Hybrid irises, yarrow, monkeyflowers and blue-eyed grass with spotty success. Let’s see how these durable grasses do.
Still smiling after unloading, counting, separating and placing 300 one-gallon pots. Volunteers made this project both possible and fun. Thanks to Marie, Allan and Liz!

The next day, Saturday, January 28th, girls scouts and community volunteers started arriving at 9 AM. At 10, students from Occidental College arrived. In total, there were about fifty people participating. The day was sunny and cool, perfect planting weather, and everyone was ready to get dirty and have some fun. Although I was very busy the whole day, I was able to snap a few pictures that tell the story better than words.

Sign with contact info and dates for future community park clean-ups.
Tools, hoses and watering cans laid out and ready for the big day. Luckily other volunteers brought extra tools as well, but still we were not fully equipped when the scouts and the college students were working in the morning.
Equestrian rides by as girl scouts and other volunteers get started.
Girls from one troop help younger scouts plant blue-eyed grass and other natives.
Occidental College students make due using sticks to pull weeds while waiting for some tools to become available. Girl Scouts (upper right) are busy planting California fuchsia in soil that turned out to be rock hard. A couple planted there two years ago survived, so hopefully, in spite of the soil, we will have a lovely red floral display next fall.
Not only did volunteers dig and plant, they also watered each and every new planting, and as you can see from this picture of a girl scout, they did it with a smile.
Some parents stayed to work, others only dropped off or picked up kids, but most remained long enough to see what was happening and to catch up with friends and neighbors.
Sometimes it is nice to just slow down and enjoy life outdoors.
Everyone seemed to be having a good time.
Amy Nettleton (Landscape Architect, Elemental Landscapes) chats with Drew Ready (S. Pas Natural Resources & Envir. Comm.) while his son digs nearby. Amy  laid out paths in this central part of the park, raking the mulch to mark their location so that we would know where to put the plants and where to keep the ground clear.
The morning went by very quickly but a lot was accomplished.
David is proud of how much he got in the ground!
Mike, volunteer par excellence, traveled from Long Beach to see what we were up to. Working with teachers at Prisk Elementary School, Mike created and has maintained —   has it been a dozen years now? — a truly amazing native plant school garden.
Sonia Nicholson, who was on the original community task-force for the design of the park, lends a hand…. and a foot.
Councilman Rick Scheider (left), responsible for providing funds for the plants, talks with Sam Burgess (right), high school environmental science teacher and scout parent, Don Wielenga (2nd from left), and girl scout, Maaike Wielenga (3rd from left). Maaike’s troop is getting their Silver Award working at the nature park. In addition to participating in the planting party, they are also creating interpretive materials including plant identification signs and a park brochure.
Oxy student lovingly plants a black sage (Salvia mellifera).
Students get ready to pose for photo by school photographer.
Plants in the ground and well watered, tools and hoses loaded back in my car, we take a break at the end of the day by the Arroyo Seco. Most students are unfamiliar with the waterways in Southern California and find it interesting to see the basis for our nature park.

I have been back to the park several times since the planting and things are looking good. Still, this is not the easiest place to grow new plants. The irrigation system does not function so plants have to be watered – until they become established –  with a series of hoses that are connected to a spigot up on Pasadena Avenue and strung down into the park. Some plants are too far from the spigot and can only be reached with a watering can. The park has a healthy and hungry population of gophers who love to eat the roots of tender new plantings, and I have already found some evidence of their work. Finally, the soil in the park was heavily disturbed and is just starting to heal. We have worked hard to remove weeds, giving the native plants a chance to grow and multiple, and we are definitely seeing positive results. It is likely we will have a fairly high loss rate, but those that make it will naturalize in the site, reseeding and eventually replacing the weeds with appropriate and lovely coastal sage scrub habitat. As this occurs, the area will become a better home for birds, lizards, butterflies, dragonflies, and a myriad of other insects and critters that once flourished here.

Thanks to everyone who made the Nature Park Planting Party and Occidental College MLK Day of Service a success. If you would like to be notified of future park clean-ups and events, check the nature park blog, Native By Design, or email me to add your name to our park email list (all emails are sent using bcc for privacy).

One thought on “Nature park planting party was a big success

  1. Anonymous

    Very cool to see what you've been up to in your community!

Comments are closed.