Native plant garden at Lake Cunningham

Every Wednesday morning, dedicated volunteers arrive at the Lake Cunningham native plant garden (off Tully Road in San Jose) at 9am to begin watering and weeding.  Then I trundle in at about 10.30!  Well, every little bit helps, and if you have even an hour to spare, Susan, the co-coordinator appreciates every ounce of effort.  We usually work to noon, though Susan says you are welcome to weed later…

Last week, I managed to remember my camera.  As I drove in, I was treated to the most spectacular view of the garden from across the lake.

The native plant garden was started in 2002 by California Native Plant Society (CNPS) volunteers who lived nearby.  They aim to remove invasive weeds and encourage native species thus creating a wildlife habitat, shade, and a beautiful environment that is sustainable and low maintenance.

Here is a picture of Mary and Susan bringing the water cart through the garden.  They remind me of flight attends – “Water anyone?”  The young seedlings need to be watered until they have become established.

Our other main job is weeding out the pepper weed and the nap weed.  I’m sad to say that my weed identification is better than the non-weed identification… I identify plants on a “need to know” basis.  Though I can tell you that the red flowers in the bottom left of the above picture are California Fuschia.

And here is a close up.

Notice how this native bee seems to push his proboscis right through the actual flower, yet the stigma is still hanging out beyond the petals for the pollen transfer.

Bees and butterflies also love Buckwheat which is in abundance in the native plant garden too.

Up this close, it is easy to see how exquisitely beautiful each tiny buckwheat flower is.

Most, if not all, of the plants in a native plant garden provide food for beneficial insects, attracting birds, reptiles and mammals, and boosting a diverse ecosystem. 

Look at how he drinks the nectar as if he has a straw in a milkshake!
The garden – being near the lake has some native bull rushes too.
It is right across the lake from the Raging Waters water slide park – though there is nothing raging about the water in this shot!
It’s nice to be able to soak in the tranquility of the native plant garden.
Even if at times you get that creepy feeling that you are being watched…
If you live nearby and would like to get involved, please drop down any Wednesday morning between 9 and noon.  We’d love some extra help, and you will learn a lot about native gardening from Susan – free of charge!
And if you don’t live nearby, perhaps you could think about starting a community native plant garden where you live.  The CNPS website can give you information on this too.
Byddi Lee

14 replies to Native plant garden at Lake Cunningham

  1. What a beautiful landscape. Fantastic photos too–I love the moth (butterfly?) drinking a milkshake photo the best 🙂

  2. Beautiful landscape though not quite as imaginatively named as the place in your blog post – Windy Bum – seriously?

  3. Blotanical won't seem to allow me to pick your post! I'm going through hoops here, but still no luck:(

  4. I'm just happy knowing that you tried – I don't know why it won't work…But thanks anyways 🙂

  5. I have a native garden, although Mrs IG refers to it as 'the overgrown bit you've done nothing with'.

    Sadly, this is its last year, as next year it is destined to become the new salad leaf bed!

  6. That honey bee in the buckwheat is an exciting picture – almost mythical. The light is beautiful. Thanks!

  7. Very cool! The photos are just amazing, and I'm so impressed you're doing this weekly. Thanks very much for sharing.

  8. Wow Byddi, all that work in your own garden, and at Lake Cunningham too! I'm impressed! I can only hope that our gardens look half as good in a few years, although we don't have a volunteer crew here…except for the bunnies and deer that like to undo our work, rather than help. I'm impressed with how much is still blooming there this late in the season. You have to love buckwheats and fuchsias! Fabulous photos by the way!

  9. I loved the butterfly-and-plant photos — a lovely illustration of how insects depend on plants for food! And wherever you have insects, birds can't be far away. If you plant native plants, they will come. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Really nice, Byddi! I like your comments and the photos are fantastic!

  11. Thank you for sharing the info and photos. Our Girl Scout troop would like to volunteer gardening here this summer. We've tried to email Ms. Susan and will try to get out there this Wednesday morning to find out more what's going on and how we can help.

  12. That is fabulous. You'll have lots of fun and learn loads too!

  13. Rediscovering this lovely blog. In 2015 the native garden is thriving, and volunteers are welcome Saturday mornings too, 9am-noon. The display of toyon berries is spectacular, and you can find plenty of birds gorging on them. This wet winter is a great time for planting, and we can use help with controlling invasives. So come on down!

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