Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Short History of the Nature Park

About a week ago I wrote a really short piece on the Nature Park for my other blog: Wild Suburbia. For those new to the park, it gives a brief overview of when it was made into a park and how the Friends of the Nature Park got started.

As a reminder, we will be planting this season. If you know of any students, scouts, or others who would like to volunteer, please give them my email address (barbara.eisenstein@gmail.com). We haven't chosen a date to plant yet, but it may be in mid-January. If any of you have suggestions, please let me know.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 16, 2009

November 14 Clean up Report

The picture below is is the most encouraging sign that the nature park is healing. Some California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) was planted in the park. The plant is native to this area and was likely here before we wreaked havoc on the Arroyo. This one is a seedling that came either from those that were planted here or nearby, or maybe it comes from seed that has been dormant in the soil, or possibly it was brought here by a bird. Regardless of how it got here, it is the beginning of recovery for this degraded land.

California buckwheat seedling (Eriogonum fasciculatum)

But not all is perfect in the park. Weeds continue to be a difficult problem. Here you can see the castor bean (Ricinus communis) seedlings coming up in great number. On Saturday we spent time clearing several areas of these pesty weeds.

Castor bean (Ricinus communis)

I am reading a book on vegetation restoration, Bringing Back the Bush, written by Joan Bradley, an Australia woman, who worked with her sister Eileen Bradley battling weeds in the Australian bush. The climate and plant types found there are quite similar to our chaparral and coastal sage scrub. We can learn much from their experience. They have come up with three basic principles for what they call the Bradley method and these are: 1) start from the non-weedy areas (if there are any) and work from there out; 2) work with great care to create as little disturbance while weeding as possible; and 3) do not over clear.

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is another opportunistic weed.

We have made some mistakes according to the Bradley method, but we should try to implement their methods in the future because they have found them to work, and they make sense. The general idea is that weeds win in disturbed environments. Over clearing an area makes it perfect for aggressive, invasive weeds to take control. Disturbance also tips the scale in favor of weeds. The idea is to work with nature by removing weeds while encouraging native vegetation to get a foothold because weeds have more difficulty competing with natives in undisturbed sites.

I would like to apply this idea by having individuals adopt areas that have some native plants and then work out from their areas. One spot might be near the sycamore circle. There is the remains of an ailanthus (tree of heaven) forest in this area. If several people focus only on that area, then eventually the massive root system will be depleted of nutrition and will begin to decompose.

A second area is south of the water retention basin. The castor beans were particularly thick in this area. We removed many seedlings this Saturday, with less disturbance to the site since they were young and easy to pull. We need to make sure no castor bean grows to reproductive size. By allowing the seeds in the soil to germinate and then removing them, we will eventually deplete the seed bank. At the same time we need to plant or encourage native plants to get going so that they will keep the area natural.

A third area is near the newly planted kiosk in the center. The native buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) in this area is seeding around. Rather than planting the whole central mound, let's start by the kiosk and gradually move towards the golf course. Datura (Datura wrightii) is a native disturbance plant that one expects to find in disturbed areas where non-native weeds haven't completely dominated. Many are coming up in this central area so we need to protect and encourage them.

Datura seedling (Datura wrightii)

So pick your spot and keep at it, and as always, enjoy the Nature Park.

Pretty picture of the day: alkali dropseed (Sporobolus airoides).

Friday, November 13, 2009

Park Clean-up - Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009, 9 - 12

PARK CLEAN UP: SATURDAY , November 14, 2009, 9 am - noon

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.

See you soon!