The weather took a sharp turn for the better as we did a Spring weeding Saturday morning in the Native Plant Area, the forested grove on the west side of the park established by Design Associates Working with Nature in the mid 1980s. Chavez Park Conservancy Volunteer Coordinator Bob Huttar organized the outing. When we started, a chill wind blew under cloudy skies, and we needed layers upon layers to keep warm even while working. An hour later, as if a switch had been thrown, the overcast departed, the sun came out, the wind stopped, and we had to shed jackets and hoodies.
We had done quite a bit of Kikuyu grass removal in previous outings, and Parks contractors had weed-whacked some more, but there was still plenty of work for us. A beautiful California Buckeye (Aesculus californica) stood surrounded and besieged by Kikuyu grass, and its inner structure had been invaded already. We teamed up and set it free; you could almost hear it sigh with happiness and breathe a thank you. A lovely Lemonade berry bush (Rhus integrifolia) had its feet and legs up to the knees ensnared by this diabolical weed, but we were able to free it. We were happy to see that the California Bee Plant (Scrophularia californica) had taken advantage of the space we gave it earlier and had spread vigorously on the edges of the picnic area below the DAWN forest. This native starts with big broad leaves, and then produces tiny flowers that are loaded with nectar and serve as a magnet for bees from a wide area. These plants are an important source of sustenance for bees; the “Bee Plant” name is not coincidental.
In the process of clearing weeds we also picked up quite a bit of trash, notably alcoholic beverage containers that their owners couldn’t be bothered to dispose of in a receptacle. Parks Maintenance staff does a good job in the areas they patrol, but the DAWN grove is not among those areas. There is no trash barrel in this wooded habitat. Perhaps there should be one or several? The area is more popular now that it has been cleared and cleaned up some.
Earlier in the day, I (Marty) posted signs at the northern and central gates of the Burrowing Owl Sanctuary in the northeast corner of the park. These signs were up two years ago but not since then because no owls had been spotted in that area. Until this week, when the Burrowing Owl also seen in the Nature Area on the north side of the park was photographed perched and ambulating in the fenced preserve. So the signs now fill a need.