Welcome! This blog is inspired by the Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve in Gardena, California.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Summer Pollinators and Butterflies

Surveying pollinators on native plants - Mother Nature's Backyard

It’s summer and the Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve is literally buzzing with activity.  Butterflies and other pollinators are busily making nests, collecting food and setting up housekeeping.   Now is one of the best  times to visit the Preserve.  Whole families can participate in the interesting activities that take place this time of year.

Pollinators are butterflies, bees, flies and other creatures that pollinate the flowers of fruits, vegetables and other foods.  These plants can’t produce if they aren’t pollinated.    In fact, about 80% of all flowers require living pollinators; without them our lives would be less colorful, less fragrant – and hungrier.   We owe our pollinators a huge debt of gratitude.  

Recent visitors to Mother Nature’s Backyard garden (located in the Preserve) were amazed at the number of hummingbirds, butterflies and other insects visiting the flowers.   No wonder the garden and Preserve produce lots of native fruits and seeds!   The staff of Mother Nature’s Backyard can help you make your own home garden more productive by attracting native pollinators.   Just ask for suggestions.

On a recent Sunday, teams of ‘citizen scientists’ surveyed the pollinators visiting several native plants. Their results will be compiled to give us a better idea of important pollinators in local gardens.  Anyone who visits the garden from now through October can participate in the survey; just ask for a survey clipboard at the garden.    You can also take the survey at home (see http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2013/06/citizen-scientist-2013-mother-natures.html for details).

July is ‘Butterfly Celebration Month’ at the Preserve.  A great way to experience local butterflies is to take a butterfly walk with Tracy Drake (Manager/Naturalist, Madrona Marsh).   Ms. Drake will lead a butterfly walk on July 14th at 1:00 p.m.   You’ll see butterflies in their natural surroundings.  You will also learn how to capture butterflies without hurting them and get to photograph them up close.  This is a great activity for families.   Visitors will receive a handout with colorful pictures of local butterflies and a brochure on home butterfly gardens.

Learn more about pollinators at:


Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Season of Flowers

Enjoying wildflowers in Mother Nature's Backyard garden

Spring and early summer is the season of flowers in Southern California.  Nature preserves, wild lands and even native plant gardens often look their best this time of year.   Consider scheduling a visit to the Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve in the next few months.  You’ll be glad you did!

The main wildflower show begins in March with the earliest wildflowers.  The annual wildflowers are at their peak in April and May, providing a riot of color from yellow and orange to pink, red and blue.  Mother Nature’s Backyard is awash with color now.   Place of honor goes to our California state flower, the California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), which is blooming in several areas of the Preserve.

In May, the annual wildflowers are gradually replaced by the native Sages (Salvia) species.  Their purple, pink and white flowers – and spicy aroma – are worth a visit to the ‘Coastal Sage Scrub’ area on the South side of the Preserve.  Be sure to watch for hummingbirds and butterflies that are attracted to the flowers.   

In late May and June the Salvias are joined by the native Buckwheats (Eriogonum species).   With their masses of pink flowers, the Buckwheats are visited by many species of butterflies and native pollinator insects.    Plan a trip to the Preserve and Garden before the flower show is over for the year.    Be sure to bring your camera or sketchpad to capture the spring beauty.