|An Anna's hummingbird taps nectar from a manzanita shrub. Photo by Trude Hurd.|
Orange County Register column by contributing writer Jennifer J. Meyer 6/4/16
Visitors can stroll through the new, pollinators’ garden at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine to discover the beauty of native plants and how they benefit native bees and hummingbirds.
Project director of education Trude Hurd and assistant Deborah Brin of the local Sea and Sage Audubon chapter designed and planted the garden to show how homeowners can help wildlife.
“More than one-third of everything we eat was pollinated by an animal,” Hurd said. “But the population of native bees is declining.”
Pollinators include animals such as hummingbirds, insects and bats, which help create new plants by transferring pollen from one plant to another. Native bees are especially important, though moths, butterflies and beetles also help pollinate plants, she said.
“California natives are also beautiful,” Hurd said. Her hope is that the garden will inspire homeowners to choose plants that are native to Southern California, which are naturally adapted to the area and drought-tolerant.
The 6,600-square-foot garden was planted in January. Most of the plants are thriving on a once-a-week watering schedule. During this first year, the plants are taking root. By the second year, the plants will become established, and watering can then be reduced to once a month, Hurd said.
A path of decomposed granite meanders among the plants, which bloom at different times throughout the year. Different textures and colors were combined to add interest. The garden is separated into an area for hummingbirds and another for native bees. Red, orange and deep purple plants with tubular-shaped flowers were selected to attract hummingbirds. These include bladderpod, California fushia, Cleveland and hummingbird sage, dudleya, island bush snapdragon, scarlet bugler, showy penstemon, sticky monkeyflower and manzanita. Plants chosen to attract native bees include California and ashy-leaf buckwheat, California wild lilac and varieties of mallow and sage.
Plants were purchased from the Tree of Life Nursery in San Juan Capistrano, Back to Natives Nursery in Santa Ana and Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary in Modjeska Canyon. For specific information on these plants, go to californianativeplants.com.
The garden was the vision of former Sea and Sage education chairman Vic Westling, who wanted to bring attention to the benefits of native pollinators and their unfortunate decline. Money for the project was donated by Westling and his wife, Bobbie, and the Judy Gordon Generation Fund. A host of volunteers aided in planting, mulching, laying the granite for the path, digging fence posts and building a rabbit-proof fence. Eagle Scout candidate Matthew Charles is creating nesting structures for native bees.
Sea and Sage Audubon will host a grand opening with tours of the pollinators garden 10 a.m. to noon June 11. RSVP for the event at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information and directions, go to seaandsageaudubon.org or call the Audubon House at 949-261-7963.