Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine “Eco-Touring” April 2010.
Spring In Full Swing
Ramblin’ On, by the Napa Nomad – Eco-excursions in the Napa Valley
By Arvis Northrop
It’s April and finally the sunny days are outnumbering the rainy ones! Our poor front lawn is lush and green again, and trees are blossoming all over the place. My hubby and I are taking stock of our winter-ravaged back yard and getting ready to plant new flowers and vegetables. Thanks to many environmental groups, such as Friends of the Napa River, the Sierra Club and the California Native Plant Society, I’m learning about the importance of native planting and landscaping for cultivating a low-maintenance garden that is lovely to behold and provides sustainability for a healthy eco-system. A few years ago I sort of stumbled upon my first introduction to native planting while exploring Skyline Wilderness Park. Just north of the Skyline Park Social Hall, you’ll find a three acre rustic, restful place that is the Martha Walker Native Habitat Garden.
Over 150 native plants are labeled throughout the garden, providing an educational experience for those who visit. The paths meander through sections of the garden; special areas designed to represent the native species of plants and flowers that grow over the 850 acres of Skyline Park as well as Napa and adjacent counties. There are shady spots with benches and chairs; gathering areas for families and friends to share their discoveries of the landscape. In the Children’s Wildlife Habitat Garden, kids (and adults) are introduced to the eco-system that is generated by native plants that bring native insects and, in turn, attract native wildlife. There are secluded areas with bench seating for quiet bird-watching among the fruit trees and shrubs donated by members of the Napa-Solano Audubon Society. I think Martha Walker would be very pleased to know that her love of gardening and her commitment to the environment is carried on by the efforts of so many volunteers and a great community spirit. The full story of how the Martha Walker Native Habitat Garden was established can be found at the Napa Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society: http://www.napavalleycnps.org
The Napa Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) maintains the Martha Walker Garden with their group of volunteers, Friends of the Martha Walker Garden. Throughout the year they offer workshops for all ages to promote the awareness of native planting and how we can bring this important style of gardening into our own landscaping. The Skyline Nursery is also maintained by volunteers. Seeds are sowed, cuttings rooted, and young starts planted to provide plants for the Martha Walker Garden, Skyline Park and other restoration projects. You don’t have to be a master gardener to volunteer; it can be a wonderful opportunity to enhance your interest in native planting and to lend a hand in preserving our natural environment.
You’ll be able to get in the full swing of spring at the annual CNPS Wildflower Show and Plant Sale to be held on Saturday and Sunday, April 10-11 from 10:00am to 4:00pm. How often have you seen a lovely wildflower and wondered which one it is, or if you could have it growing in your own garden? At the Wildflower Show there will be over 200 flowers labeled and on display to marvel at the wide variety we have in our habitat. There will also be over 100 different native species for sale, ready for your own garden. Most local nurseries carry about 10 to 15, so the CNPS Plant Sale is the best opportunity for the public to take advantage of this selection. Additional fun during the weekend will be wildflower walks, bee-keeping demonstrations and plenty of experts on hand to answer your gardening questions.
On Friday, April 9th, there will be a special Preview Night for CNPS members and their guests. If you become a member right away, you’ll be able to join in on the fun with wine tasting, a silent auction and the premiere selection of the plant sale. The preview will be held at the Skyline Nursery in Skyline Park. Visit the CNPS website for complete information and to easily become a member online: http://www.napavalleycnps.org