It was a glorious day on Sunday after the rain the day before. The sky was filled with big puffy white clouds and the sky was such a crystal clear blue that you could see Catalina Island off the coast. It didn’t rain very much and only the very top of the soil was damp, but every little bit helps. We had the Garden Grove High School Environmental Club join us that morning, along with a few other small groups. We split up into two groups; one group to plant the remaining 100 native grasses from the previous work day, and the other group to water all the native plants. The High School students were hard workers and got the native grasses (Aristida purpurea- purple three-awn grass and Stipa cernua- nodding needle grass) into the ground pretty quickly. Roberta and Kerry, two dedicated Stewards, helped me show them how to properly plant the plants, build berms and water the plants.
After that, we focused on watering all the new grasses, the grasses we planted last time, and the plants we planted last season. The deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) is doing so well it is actually blooming which is a great sign, especially in this drought. Two of our Jr. Stewards came up with a brilliant idea in terms of watering too. Working as a team, they used the 1 gallon pot to disperse the water from the jug around the plant. They held the pot over the plant and poured the water into the pot through the holes around the plant. This method prevented the water from landing directly on the plant which erodes the soil around the roots which eventually kills the plant. Team work at its best.
Since it was after Halloween we had extra goodies at our snack table this time. We had homemade brownies that I baked, mini cupcakes, Halloween cookies and the refreshing fruit Danny, the Jr. Stewards coordinator, brings out. Everything was gone by the time I got to the table at the end of the work day. Once all the water had been poured on the native plants, I took the High School students and some National Charity League mothers and daughters on a tour. It was a great time for a tour because the tide was low and the mud flats were exposed. We saw sandpipers, larger shore birds like Willets and Godwits, and even a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) hunting in the algae covered flats. Great Blue Herons are wonderful birds to point out on tours because they are a key species that uses both the Mesa land and the wetlands for food and nesting. Our Great Blue Herons hunt in both the wetlands and the Mesa, and nest in the Canary Island date palms (Phoenix canariensis) at the Point on the Mesa during the breeding season.