After spending more than a year working at the native plant garden, Master Gardener volunteers have successfully “conquered” the intrusion of weeds, death through over-watering of cacti, overgrowth of ambitious native plants, decline of fragile plants, and other challenges of maintaining a demonstration native plant garden in a somewhat hostile environment.
At our most recent work party, we took advantage of the annual native plant sale conducted by the Bristlecone Chapter of the Native Plant Society, and the generous grant of the Eastern Sierra Land Trust through its Eastside Pollinator Garden Project, and planted over 25 new plants. Many of the plants, such as milkweed, datura, and silver cholla were replacements for plants that had died. Others, such as columbine and mountain mahogany, were new natives introduced to bring color and additional diversity to the garden.
Anyone who has an opportunity to visit the garden at the Eastern Sierra Visitors Center in Lone Pine should be sure to stop in and see how diligent maintenance is paying off. Bring your phone and aim the “camera” feature at the QR codes posted on the signs to help identify plants and link to the native plant society's website for more information about each plant.
We all have our fingers crossed and look forward to the new plants taking root and growing healthily and happily into the future.
The native plant garden at the Eastern Sierra Visitors Center (ESVC) is now a Certified Pollinator Garden!
The Eastern Sierra Land Trust (ESLT)'s Eastside Pollinator Garden Project encourages the creation of pollinator-friendly gardens in Inyo and Mono County. To become certified, the garden must feature:
- Three "food" features
- Both of 2 "water" features
- Two "shelter" features
- Plants native to California (preferably the Owens Valley) make up 50% of the Pollinator Garden space
- Minimal artificial lighting unless illuminating a structure or hazard
These are described below.
On August 27, 2021, Master Gardeners Edie Warkentine and Joanne Parsons met with the ESLT's Americorp Volunteer in charge of the Eastside Pollinator Garden Project, and received the official certification plaque, which we now proudly display at the entrance to the native plant garden.
Clump plantings: plant each variety in groups of three (excepting trees)
Seasonality: The garden has three different bloom times
Diversity: The garden has three different scents, three different flower types, and/or three different flower shapes
One bird or butterfly feeder, such as:
- Thistle feeders for Goldfinches
- Fruit feeders for Orioles
- Nectar feeders for Hummingbirds
- Rotting fruit set out during butterfly migration
Larval host plants, such as: Milkweed, Indian Paintbrush, Mallow, Hollyhock, Dill, Sunflower, and more
One water source:
- Wet irrigation ditches
- Bird baths
- Natural water features (pond, creek, etc.)
One water conservation measure:
- Lawn removal
- A drip irrigation system
One natural shelter:
- Bare ground
- Dead wood
- Brush piles
One constructed shelter:
- Bird nesting boxes
- Bat houses
- Bee boxes
- Bee nesting logs
The Demonstration Native Plant Garden at the Eastern Sierra Visitors Center (ESVC) has grown into the 21st century! Thanks to the excellent work of Master Gardeners Ariel Bohr and Katie Rodriguez, we now have QR codes, linking plants to the California Native Plant Society website, posted in the garden.
Although our goal is permanent signs with QR codes attached, as an interim measure, Ariel and Katie have added QR codes to existing signs. Visitors to the garden can now use their smart phones (using the camera feature) to learn all about each identified plant.
Ariel and Katie first began this project with an eye to finalizing a brochure for the garden – a project that was begun by others several years ago. However, we quickly realized that a combination of limited resources and a desire to keep paper waste to a minimum made a physical brochure an undesirable option at this time. Technology provided a better option!
Katie and Ariel carefully went on their own plant identification search through the garden to see what has survived from past identification efforts and what has been introduced. They decided to add QR codes only to an individual specimen, even if there were others in the garden. In the future, they hope to develop an interpretative game for children who visit the garden, asking them to find all of a particular kind of plant, based on the one that has already been identified for them.
With the installation of the QR codes, and all the spring blooms, the garden is now ready for visitors!
 Wikipedia defines a QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response code) as a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode) invented in 1994 by the Japanese automotive company Denso Wave. A barcode is a machine-readable optical label that contains information about the item to which it is attached.
Since last July, the Master Gardeners have been working diligently at the ESVC native plant demonstration garden. We have removed the huge weeds (largely bassia) that had overtaken the garden and continue to monitor the area to restrict the growth of new weeds. Some wild mallow continues to try to grow in the open areas of the garden, and Harold with his hula hoe has managed to keep it in check. We have worked on the irrigation system, shutting off the excessive water that has been killing some of the beavertail and cholla. At our last visit, we transplanted some of the plants and hope to see them flourish in the future.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, we were unable to return to the garden during the 2020 spring bloom, so we were an excited group of gardeners when we arrived at the garden for our May 1 work party. We were not disappointed!
Spring is indeed the season for flowering natives. The wild roses are all open. The apricot mallow, purple sage, rose penstemmon, sulfur buckwheat and Palmer's penstemmon are a sight to behold. In addition to the flowering plants, many of the trees and bushes have leafed out. Visitors can enjoy fern bush, desert willow, rabbitbrush, and a variety of native grasses.
Different plants in the garden should be blooming for the next few months. Drop by and enjoy your surroundings if you have a chance! The bookstore at the ESVC is now open seven days a week, so the gates are usually open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Be sure to double check dates and times before your visit as they may change.
During a February work party at the ESVC, we noticed that the roses were already beginning to bloom. That signaled “time to prune!” Accordingly, at our next work party, four Master Gardeners took the first steps at training and feeding the roses that line the entry at the ESVC.
The ESVC entry was designed to promote an arbor of yellow climbing roses. A rose was planted at the base of each of the four pillars. Over the years, the roses have grown, but due to the Covid-19 shutdown and other circumstances, they had not been trained. At our work party, each Master Gardener worked on one of the four roses, and pruned to promote growth up and over the arbor. Where possible, branches were draped over the arbor. Pruning was designed to open the center of the rose and encourage upward growth, with an emphasis on no more than 3-4 major canes for each plant. We finished the day with fertilizer and a good soaking. Two Master Gardeners returned the following week to complete the pruning and training efforts.
Less than two months later, the results of our efforts were apparent. Lush cascades of yellow blooms greet visitors to the ESVC. Some of the roses have started to spread on the overhead arbor. We have removed the grasses that were invading the water wells at the bottom of each plant and fertilized again. Only time will tell whether the roses will have a second and even a third bloom this season. By next year, with additional growth, training, pruning, and feeding, we anticipate an even more spectacular display of roses.