By Patti Berryhill, Garden Conservation Manager
One of the best (of many!) things about working in the Living Classroom gardens every day is the opportunity to indulge my photography hobby. Excited students, amazing wildlife, delicious vegetables - so many great photo subjects!
I recently took my macro lens to the native garden at Theuerkauf School to try and capture some of the smaller wonders in the landscape. As you can see from the photos, the fall and winter in a California native garden are the time for many shrubs to show off their beautiful blooms.
Ribes malvaceum, or Pink Chaparral Current, is a deciduous shrub native to slopes in the Coastal ranges. It has fragrant pink flower clusters that bloom from October to March. The pollinators love it -- and the birds love the edible red fruit it produces. A bonus for home landscapes near open areas: it's deer-proof. The leaves can be added to peppermint tea! Communities: Chaparral, Closed-cone Pine Forest, mixed Evergreen Forest and Central Oak Woodland.
Baccharis pilularis, commonly known as Coyote Bush or Coyote Brush, is a great wildlife attraction. It’s a nectary source for predatory wasps (very tiny, very cool non-stinging wasps - they lay their eggs inside bad insects, the larvae hatch out and eat the bad insect from the inside out); native skippers, which are small butterflies; and native flies. It also attracts native bees. On a warm day, there can be so much activity on this plant. They are hardy, too; there was one at Theuerkauf that was rotting in the middle, so we coppiced (cut it to the ground) and it's now a beautiful little plant. It’s another deer-proof plant, and is a great choice for privacy hedges. Communities: Chaparral, Closed-cone Pine Forest, Coastal Sage Scrub, Mixed-Evergreen Forest, Coastal Prairie and Southern Oak Woodland.
Both are great choices for people who want to add more native plants to their home landscapes!
By Shawn Shahin, Living Classroom Program Director, Palo Alto Unified School District
On Monday 11/5, Living Classroom docents and staff participated in a California Water Workshop presented by former Living Classroom Program Assistant Janet Hedley, and her amazing team from the Santa Clara Valley Water District! The workshop included three informative and engaging activities that are part of the water district's outreach curriculum: Discover California, H2O on the Go, and Hidden Water. Did you know that your water footprint includes what you eat, what you buy, and what you use? Check out how much water is needed to create each of the following items!
What can you do to help conserve water? Here are a few suggestions...Eat lower on the food chain, use reusable water bottles instead of plastic water bottles, purchase clothing from secondhand stores, and buy large bags of chips and package them yourself in reusable containers.