Friday, October 8, 2010

Native plant garden at Lake Cunningham

Every Wednesday morning, dedicated volunteers arrive at the Lake Cunningham native plant garden (off Tully Road in San Jose) at 9am to begin watering and weeding.  Then I trundle in at about 10.30!  Well, every little bit helps, and if you have even an hour to spare, Susan, the co-coordinator appreciates every ounce of effort.  We usually work to noon, though Susan says you are welcome to weed later...

Last week, I managed to remember my camera.  As I drove in, I was treated to the most spectacular view of the garden from across the lake.
The native plant garden was started in 2002 by California Native Plant Society (CNPS) volunteers who lived nearby.  They aim to remove invasive weeds and encourage native species thus creating a wildlife habitat, shade, and a beautiful environment that is sustainable and low maintenance.

Here is a picture of Mary and Susan bringing the water cart through the garden.  They remind me of flight attends - "Water anyone?"  The young seedlings need to be watered until they have become established.

Our other main job is weeding out the pepper weed and the nap weed.  I'm sad to say that my weed identification is better than the non-weed identification... I identify plants on a "need to know" basis.  Though I can tell you that the red flowers in the bottom left of the above picture are California Fuschia.

And here is a close up.
Notice how this native bee seems to push his proboscis right through the actual flower, yet the stigma is still hanging out beyond the petals for the pollen transfer.

Bees and butterflies also love Buckwheat which is in abundance in the native plant garden too.

Up this close, it is easy to see how exquisitely beautiful each tiny buckwheat flower is.

Most, if not all, of the plants in a native plant garden provide food for beneficial insects, attracting birds, reptiles and mammals, and boosting a diverse ecosystem. 

Look at how he drinks the nectar as if he has a straw in a milkshake!
The garden - being near the lake has some native bull rushes too.
It is right across the lake from the Raging Waters water slide park - though there is nothing raging about the water in this shot!
It's nice to be able to soak in the tranquility of the native plant garden.
Even if at times you get that creepy feeling that you are being watched...
If you live nearby and would like to get involved, please drop down any Wednesday morning between 9 and noon.  We'd love some extra help, and you will learn a lot about native gardening from Susan - free of charge!
And if you don't live nearby, perhaps you could think about starting a community native plant garden where you live.  The CNPS website can give you information on this too.

Byddi Lee