Friday, August 15, 2008

A Walk Through the Park

On Sunday, August 10, I took a leisurely walk through the park. Birds were flitting from the trees and shrubs on the north edge of the park (along the Arroyo Seco flood control channel) into the water. I saw a few lizards and some squirrels. I know there were lots more - I'm not a good animal watcher.

The plants in bloom included virgin's bower (Clematis ligusticifolia), buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), mulefat (Baccharis salsifolia), alkali dropseed (Sporobolus airoides), deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens), a few poppies (Eschscholzia californica), and sugar bush (Rhus ovata).

Virgin's Bower (Clematis ligusticifolia) blooms at the Nature Park

Keeping up
I am very excited by what I see in the park. No, it is not perfect, but what we are trying to do is not easy. The basic structure of the park is good. For the next few years we will need to manage the invasive weeds. As these are better controlled I hope we will consider planting some low-growing shrubs in the central area (former grassland/weed patch). It would be nice to keep low-growing plants here because birds need low shrubs, along with trees and water. I hope we can plant wildflower seeds there again next winter, and possibly add some more buckwheat and sages. It will be best to go slowly so we can keep the invasive weeds under control.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Signage in the Park

Stonework entry to Nature Park

Each time I visit the Nature Park I enjoy the river rock entry on Pasadena Avenue. Occasional graffiti is quickly removed when the Graffiti Hotline (626) 403-7249 is called.

The Nature Park Information Sign, on the other hand, needs some work. It is not water-tight so the poster has warped. The wood stand is subject to graffiti and the plexiglass is scratched and doesn't fit within the frame.

Warped poster in information display

Back of sign is not water tight

Plexiglass is scratched and doesn't keep water out, wood is marred

I have been speaking with a boyscout about taking this project on for his Eagle Scout award. Hopefully we can improve this sign and then take on some of the signage in the park.

Park Cleanup: September 13, 2008, 9 - 12

Meet at the park info sign on Pasadena Ave and then head down into the park. The group will pull weeds, pick up litter, and enjoy the park. Come for the whole time, for an hour, or just stop by to say hello.

Nature Park entrance on Pasadena Ave., east of the York St. Bridge

Remember to:

- wear sunscreen, hat, sunglasses
- bring water
- bring gardening gloves and tools (weeders, trowels, whatever you use in your own garden)
- comfortable work clothes, including work shoes (sneakers or boots)
- binoculars for bird watching (optional)

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

Please pass this info along to anyone else you think might be interested in the park. If you know of anyone who doesn't use the internet, let me know so we can be sure they are kept in the loop.

For more information email me at:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Met with City Workers in the Park

Met with staff to discuss maintenance
On Thursday, August 7th, I met with the staff from So Pas Dept. of Public Works and TruGreen landscape maintenance at the Nature Park to discuss park maintenance. Overall, the park looks good. The sycamore circle is really looking better than ever. There is some graffiti, especially on the sign near the circle. We decided that for now it would be best to remove the sign since it is totally covered with graffiti, both painted and scratched, and can't be cleaned up anymore.
As Jesse Barajas of Public Works put it, "The greatest asset in the Nature Park are the trees." Many of the trees pre-date dedication of this land as a Nature Park in October 2004. The trees that were planted in 2004 by MRCA (Mts and Rivers Conservation Authority)and SMMC (Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy) with money from the state, are doing well.

Western Sycamore (Platanus racemosa)

Invasive weeds are biggest challenge

The biggest challenge in the park are invasive weeds. The land before its conversion to a nature park was a degraded, illegal dumpsite. Land like this is usually overgrown with exotic, invasive weeds. MRCA cleared out a castor bean forest and removed many other aggressive weeds. They regraded the land, put in a retention basin, paths, signage, and some appropriate native plants. Many of the trees are doing well, but many of the smaller shrubs and perennials have not made it. This is not a problem, though, because the park had a very nice collection of native plants to start with.

The problem are the weeds. If we do not keep them under control, the park will revert to its earlier condition. The city has been doing much to control castor bean, milk thistle and other weeds. Right now the worst problem is the tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissimo) above the circle (on the east side of the park, south of the sycamore). A large specimen of this aggressive weed was removed when the park was created. The root system continues to sprout new "tree-lets". If they aren't removed then they will take over this section of the park - no joke! TruGreen will be removing this problem plant, along with tree tobacco, Chinese elm, Russian thistle, and castor bean.

Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissimo) getting a foothold in the Nature Park