Being fought hand-to-hand, against invaders from overseas.
Or, more precisely, gloved-hand to root, stem, stalk, or trunk. Often with pointy, pokey tools. Occassionally with heavy machinery, or biological and chemical agents.
The foreign enemies we're attempting to turn away?
Non-native, invasive weeds - French and Spanish broom, Italian thistle, English ivy, European olive... And the ultimate evil: Yellow star thistle. Which, I think must be from outer space, because it seems to be able to survive nearly anything, and is about as friendly as a Vermicious Knid.
Our defenders are the Edgewood Weed Warriors, a group of fine folks that beat back the encroachers that would otherwise turn a native-nature preserve, into just another scruffy park. Yes, given the chance, those weeds would happily overrun Edgewood's rare flora and fauna, and create uninviting fields of thistles as far as the eye can see. Or, banks of broom, cotoneaster, eucalyptus and acacia, instead of classic California oaks and chaparral.
The Warriors know, because that's how Edgewood Park was 10 years ago, and how the untended parks in the area look today.
So, I volunteered. And, a yearish later, not only am I still having fun and learning a ton, I can really see that this diligent, dedicated, invasive-fighting infantry makes a surprising difference.
Now, I'm sure many are saying: "weeding? Isn't that one of those tedious chores I avoid doing in my own backyard?"
Well, weeding in a park is much, much different.
Not only are you out with a bunch of great people, but you're about with a bunch of great plants and animals, too. Hundreds of species of wildflowers come and go under your nose. Hawks swoop by. You share morning fields with meadowlarks, jackrabbits and deer. Fascinating insects are revealed. Grasses rustle with glances of harmless lizards, snakes and voles.
But enough descriptions - here's the year in photos:
Year-round, sprinkles or shine, and often with great views
Birds and bunnies "accidentally" drop weed seeds in native bushes
"New species?" "I dunno, how many nutlets do you see?"
Our fearless general protects a patch of chia sage that enjoys hillside exposures
Searching for hidden enemies
Grasslands of... grasses (with scattered nature-geeks)
A doomed, but well-defended cul de sac of yellow star (now sprouting arroyo lupine!)
Sweeping for strays before summer seeds spread
Expanding the war into the enemy's home base near the edge of the park
Summer fields of native coast tarplant - and no nasty yellow star thistle
Dead enemies with seeds are removed for mulching
Fans of the weed warriors often stop to show their appreciation
Battling French broom that's infiltrating the oak woodlands
Caution - spontaneous learning is known to break out. Here, our CNPS Fellow
talks toyon and chaparral plant communities.
Dead Italians show the next season has begun. Learning to ID natives vs. weeds
as sprouts is a handy skill you pick up.
New Year's Eve - just can't get enough
Some flora & fauna we saw through the year:
Yes, there are still weeds in Edgewood. Filaree, pimpernel, European annual grasses, and some yellow star entrenched on the perimeters... But - the park is about as close to native as you can get these days in California. And, it's very nice to prove that restoration is both possible, and that there's wise warriors willing to take it on, and keep at it.
See ya in the field.
- Edgewood Weed Warriors Website - Edgewood habitat restoration info, sign-up, etc.
- Friends of Edgewood Park
- Nature of a Man (this blog) - A Year of Edgewood Park
- flickr/randomtruth - my flickr set of many photos from Edgewood Park
- San Mateo County - Edgewood County Park & Natural Preserve
- Wikipedia - Yellow star thistle