By Tony Gurnoe
Director of Horticulture
SDBG Partners with City of Encinitas to Care for and Restore Native Plants in Open Spaces
After decades of conservation and stewardship of native species within the Garden, SDBG has expanded that botanical expertise to an additional 15 acres of open space in Encinitas.
In spring of 2020, the Garden partnered with the City of Encinitas to care for and restore open spaces adjacent to Cottonwood Creek and Encinitas Boulevard.
Our role in this project focuses on invasive species removal in sensitive habitats, improvement of the sites with signage and erosion mitigation, and effective revegetation of significant portions of the natural area behind Cottonwood Creek Park.
SDBG staff and volunteers will work over the next two years to improve endangered bird habitat, reduce fire hazards by excluding weeds, improve the seasonal beauty of the trail by planting more flowering natives, and improve the public’s safety by working with the City to document hazards.
Our first step in this partnership was an exhaustive survey of the areas. The data collected informed our invasive species removal strategy and set the foundation for creating the ideal plant palette. Weed removal represents a significant portion of this project. Our targets include some of the most noxious weeds of our region, such as Ricinus communis, Arundo donax, and Pennisetum setaceum. Since May, our team has removed hundreds of yards of invasive material.
In November, many of the plants grown by SDBG staff and volunteers will be planted in the Cottonwood Creek restoration site, making autumn an exciting time. The seasonal planting effort will continue through the following spring. Most of these plants will be from material collected within the Garden’s natural areas.
SDBG has also collaborated with other nonprofits including the Nature Collective and California Botanic Garden to provide beautiful and even endangered native plants for this project. Young plants will be given supplemental water, but this difficulty encourages us to take full advantage of our rainy season.
The Garden is proud to be able to safely re-engage staff and volunteers to put our collective hearts into making our community more beautiful and sustainable even during such a difficult time.
Cottonwood Creek was historically the main supply of water for Encinitas and ends at Moonlight Beach where thousands of children play. To improve this area is a huge opportunity for us and the community members who work, live, play – and plant – in Encinitas!