By Rachael Lloyd
Usually animals are placed in cages for the viewing pleasure of humans. This past spring eight plants in cages appeared in the Bolsa Chica State Beach Headquarters Native Plant Garden. The cages were placed there by our Amigos Environmental Club, not to prevent the plants from escaping but to protect them. Bolsa Chica State Beach's very own cottontail rabbits and ground squirrel populations, along with humans, are invited to view the new plants from outside the cages. Both of the rodent species are known to relish the tasty roots and tender leaves of young plants, especially when there is easy-to-dig soft dirt around their bases. In about a year when the plants have matured and the dirt has firmed up the plants will be set free for all to enjoy.
Amigos volunteer Jeanne Lepowsky directed our Environmental Club teens in the planting activity. Jeanne is an Elementary School science instructor and certified Orange County Master Gardener. Jeanne is a volunteer in our FLOW program and Amigos is fortunate to have her involved in the native plant garden as well. During the past fall and spring Jeanne has enriched the experiences our Environmental Club for teens during their garden work in several ways. She has instructed them in how to take plant cuttings for propagation, how to identify and remove invasive weeds, and demonstrated the native planting techniques.
When you are visiting the garden look for the cages and enjoy seeing the new installations of Black Sage, California Sagebrush, Bladderpod, California Bush Sunflower, and California Buckwheat. All of the new plantings are thriving. Along with existing plants they will be featured in the native plant trail developed by Bolsa Chica State Beach Interpreter Elizabeth Bailey for her upcoming summer Junior Ranger program.