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Shirley McPheeters (l.) and Lesley Hunt volunteering at Native Here
Photo by Janice Bray

Changes at the Nursery

This winter you will be noticing some changes to the nursery’s organization and tree cover. One major issue facing the future success of growing our plants is the amount of shade that is produced by the trees at Native Here Nursery. Many of you will reember the major revision in tree canopy with the removal of several mature Monterey pines about five years ago. What were once saplings have now shot up tremendously with the new resources available to them—mainly sun. In another five years I would expect our oaks to coalesce into a continuous canopy that would limit our available growing light and provide poor conditions for many of our sun-loving species. We have so far removed several bay laurels, the Italian alder (sorry, Margot), and two coast live oaks. The remaining oaks will be carefully thinned to provide higher filtered light. We love our trees, but we also have a mission to grow healthy plants from all over our East Bay region.

The other changes are becoming even more noticeable. Both the mission and character of the nursery is focused around locally native plants, and planting them back out in their appropriate locations. A large part of selecting site-appropriate material is to select from genetically local sources. Several nursery volunteers, and many of our customers, have encouraged us to re-arrange the nursery by species in order to facilitate both appropriate growing conditions and an easier customer and seller experience. In addition to removing our uniqueness among the native plant nursery community, a system which disregards location (genetic and ecotype) would ruin the mission of the nursery, and likely the character as well. I have settled on a different and also imperfect solution to re-organize the nursery stock by species within larger ecological regions as described by Ertter’s Annotated Checklist of the East Bay Flora (Bay Hills, Flatlands, Valley, Diablo, etc.). We will continue to encourage customers to buy material as close to their site as possible and will keep all of the specific location information attached to each individual plant. I believe that this will strike a balance between serving our customers and the species and natural communities that comprise “the environment.” I hope that this new system will provide a more complete view of what grows natively in each area of our county, as it is difficult to keep complete stock available from each collection location. Furthermore, this will help us better provide the appropriate amounts of water, sunlight, and loving care needed for each species, since we will have a larger area from which to choose the micro-habitat within the nursery for each species.

Volunteer Corner

We have had the pleasure of seeing many of our less frequent volunteers helping out at workdays this year. Not only are these workdays critical to completing larger projects, they also fill me and the nursery with energy and a sense of community. It is no doubt also inspiring for our regular volunteers to see that others who cannot make it as often love the nursery.

With the early/normal start to the rain this fall, our section tenders have not needed to water. With the rain and holidays has also come a general decrease in volunteer turnout. I would like to specially thank Charli for moving a large portion of the seed sowing operation to her residence, which has provided both protection from rain and space for pots, which have been hard to come by during the nursery re-arrangement.

Please consider joining us this Sunday, January 4th, for another stock re-arrangement workday. It will be held from 10 am to 2 pm at Native Here Nursery, 101 Golf Course Drive. There will be light refreshments available, as well as plenty of work: sprucing, lifting, hauling, raking, and singing.

Theo Fitanides
Manager, Native Here Nursery