- Author: David Layland, UC Master Gardener of Napa County
Four years ago, the City of Napa's Parks and Recreation Department and the UC Master Gardeners of Napa County reached an agreement to create a learning garden at the Las Flores Community Center in Napa. The idea was to transform part of Las Flores Park into an educational opportunity for the community. The result is the Las Flores Learning Garden (LFLG).
The demonstration gardens at LFLG, still in development, will illustrate various types of plantings, such as California natives or low-maintenance plants. Already, LFLG is providing educational programs, viewing opportunities and a botanical oasis for the people of Napa. The whole street frontage along Linda Vista Avenue and parts of Culpepper Street has been revitalized, with weeds and unsightly shrubbery replaced by four themed gardens.
These educational gardens include a low-maintenance, low-water garden with attractive non-thirsty plants. There's also a California native garden with plants indigenous to our state and county.
Visitors will also find a demonstration garden with an array of flowering annuals and perennials that attract native bees and honeybees, butterflies and other insects, as well as hummingbirds and seed-eating birds. This pollinator garden provides habitat and a fueling station for migratory species, such as the Monarch butterfly and other insects whose wild habitats have been severely impacted by agriculture or urban development, pesticide use and invasive species, among other causes.
The fourth demonstration garden showcases succulents from different parts of the world. This non-irrigated area, or dry garden, highlights plants that are adapted to areas with low rainfall and high summer temperatures, while still surviving Napa Valley winters.
All the gardens have bilingual signage as well as QR (Quick Response) codes that direct visitors to the Master Gardener website for more information. The gardens also have observation platforms and benches accessible to people with disabilities.
Master Gardeners are already offering public educational events at LFLG, typically on the last Saturday of each month. These events cover a variety of horticultural topics and provide opportunities for hands-on experience in the garden.
More demonstration gardens are planned, including a garden to showcase alternatives to water-guzzling turf grasses, a children's garden and a meditation garden for relaxation and contemplation. The Master Gardeners' wish list for the Las Flores Learning Garden includes areas for demonstrating how to compost, how to improve soil health, how to do “restorative gardening” and how to create backyard or patio oases for relaxation, entertainment and wellbeing.
In the future, the Master Gardeners hope to collaborate with Parks & Rec on dedicated areas for teaching plant propagation, how to start and care for seedlings, how to improve wildlife habitat, and how to grow fruits and vegetables.
If you are an avid user of Napa parks, you may have observed how green the city looks from vistas in Westwood Hills, Alston or Timberhill Parks. Napa boasts an amazing urban forest, not only in public areas (parks, creekside paths and sidewalk strips) but in residential areas as well. This urban forest provides shade and reduces the heat effects of global warming, especially in urban areas with a lot of hardscape.
The Master Gardeners hope to use the LFLG to educate Napans about what we, as individuals, can do to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere through composting and other gardening practices that store carbon in the soil instead of the atmosphere.
We are grateful to the Parks & Rec staff and City of Napa officials for their enthusiasm and support as we develop this meaningful resource for the community.
Workshop: Join UC Master Gardeners of Napa County for a workshop on “Pollinators in Your Garden” on Saturday, May 27, from 10 a.m. to noon at Las Flores Learning Garden, Las Flores Community Center, 4300 Linda Vista Avenue, Napa. Space is limited; register at https://bit.ly/42INCZ2.
Library Talk: Join UC Master Gardeners of Napa County and St. Helena Library for a talk on “Attracting Monarchs and Polliinators” on Tuesday, May 30, from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm at St. Helena Public Library, 1492 Library Lane, St. Helena. Learn how to create and maintain year-round habitat for pollinators in your garden. After the talk, enjoy an optional guided tour of the UC Master Gardeners' Pollinator Garden behind the library. The talk is free but please register at https://bit.ly/3M20ClW.
Library Talk: Join UC Master Gardeners and Napa County Library for a talk on “Summer Fruit Tree Care” on Thursday, June 1, from 6 pm to 7 pm at Napa Library, 580 Coombs Street, Napa.
Learn about summer pruning, watering, pest prevention and more from an experienced orchardist. The talk is free but please register at https://2023JunFruitTreesLibraryTalk.
Help Desk: The Master Gardener Help Desk is available to answer your garden questions on Mondays and Fridays from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m at the University of California Cooperative Extension Office, 1710 Soscol Avenue, Suite 4, Napa. Or sSend your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, address, phone number and a brief description of the problem. For best results, attach a photo of the plant. You may also leave a voicemail message with the same information at 707-253-4143.