The forested grove in the low hills on the west side of the park contains more than 90 per cent of the trees and shrubs in the park, not counting the pines lining Spinnaker Way on the southern border. The nonprofit group Design Associates Working With Nature (DAWN), headed by the well-known local arborist and native plant specialist Charli Danielsen, created this oasis in the late 1980s under contract with the City. Since that time, the area has received little if any professional attention. Irrigation put in place in the first year or so broke down long ago. Some things have flourished, others not. Birds, other animals, the wind have carried in seeds that no human hand planted. There are natives and immigrants, garden favorites and nasty weeds. In many places, different species intermesh their branches with one another, fighting for sunshine. Some trees have lost limbs; others have fallen into each others’ crowns. Thirty years of neglect have produced a pocket wilderness.
Last weekend, I had the privilege of an hour’s walk into this grove with a professional botanist, Jutta Burger, a senior researcher with the California Invasive Plant Council. This was far from a comprehensive inventory — a project for another day — but Burger was able to identify more than a dozen of the species currently growing there. They ranged from the very common, such as Lemonadeberry and Ragweed, to the exotic and surprising, like the Santa Cruz Island Ironwood, which is declining in its home range. Here is an almost random selection of images with their common and scientific names. More to come.