A new garden is taking root at the Richardson Bay Audubon Center this spring. What was once a large field of invasive Harding grass just a year ago is now being converted into a native plant demonstration garden.
Biologist Paige Fernandez mowed and weed whacked the field in 2021 to construct the rock paths with the help of high school interns in the Audubon Youth Leaders (AYL) program. The rock paths were finished by high school volunteers, and the new cohort of AYLs placed a tarp over the first garden bed to kill off the weeds. Middle school interns from Marin County Day School (MCDS) lifted the tarp and pulled out the remaining weeds to reveal and fresh bed of soil that was ready to be planted in. The young interns also worked together to make chicken wire cages to protect plants that are not deer resistant. Community Conservation Fellow Christina Cen designed a map of where to place different plants according to their height and width. With the combined efforts of staff, AYL’s, MCDS, the rotary club, and Children for Change volunteers, the new pollinator garden is now teeming with young native plants! The plants in this garden will provide food and habitat for native pollinators such as hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and moths.
AYL’s moved the tarp to an adjacent bed in the beginning of February. Both MCDS and AYL students are beginning to weed the area and filling it in with plants to create a bird garden. Next winter, other beds of the demonstration garden will be filled in with native plants as well. It will be made up of 5 garden beds total with benches, educational signs, and plant labels, separated by gravel walkways.
Native plants are crucial to supporting a healthy ecosystem. The provide food and shelter for native animals which maintains balanced food webs within a habitat. This new garden replaces invasive plants with native plants that will serve the insects, birds, and other animals that reside at the Richardson Bay Audubon Center. Additionally, landscaping with natives is more environmentally friendly because plants that are adapted to the Californian climate need minimal watering to maintain. The garden showcases the different plants that visitors can easily use to bring a piece of nature to their own yards. This will be an ongoing and collaborative effort between the different groups that Richardson Bay Audubon Center which engages and educates the youth of the community on the environmental importance of these plants.