Many Hands Attract Seasonal Pollinators!

Morro Bay is home to a peaceful squadron of eco forces who maintain parks, adopt trees, care for grounds, and unite community. In the spring of 2012, the Volunteer Tree Committee, Eco Rotary, Morro Bay Beautiful, Guerrilla Gardeners, and City of Morro Bay all joined together to revitalize Morro Bay’s Bayshore Bluffs Park and increase its appeal—not just to 2-legged traffic, but to 2- and 4-winged traffic as well.

Bayshore Bluffs Park came into existence because of the nearby condominium development, according to the City of Morro Bay’s official website. There it rested, serenely offering sanctuary to its visitors until Taylor Newton, President Elect of the Eco Rotary, brought the park to the attention of Joe Woods, Recreation and Parks Director for Morro Bay. “Most people walk straight through parks because they think they’re ‘just scenery,’” said Taylor. “But that’s not all they are. I talked with Joe and the Volunteer Tree Committee and we thought, ‘What if a park could be a tool to educate people?’”

“The City values volunteers and makes efforts to provide opportunities for citizens to participate at any level,” said Joe. “This opportunity was perfect. The City agreed to support a Pollinator Garden and the Tree Committee agreed to provide a design.”

Noah Smukler, Chair of the Volunteer Tree Committee and newly re-elected City Councilman of Morro Bay, agreed. “The Tree Committee is always interested in beautifying public spaces, so creating a Pollinator Garden at Bayshore Bluffs Park was a perfect project,” he said. “It was a lower-profile park, but we knew it was a stop for monarch butterflies, so we decided to build up the plants that monarchs enjoy while also including plants for other pollinators.”

Melinda Elster, Plant Ecologist and member of the Tree Committee, co-designed the garden along with fellow Tree Committee member Gabriel Frank of Gardens by Gabriel to attract a host of pollinators throughout the year. “The plan was to add a diversity of native plants that would do well along the coast, grow in sand, and not require a lot of water after being established,” Melinda said. “Many natives don’t actually require pollinators, so we researched those that do. The goal was to support our native wildlife.”

Installing the garden was a collaborative effort on behalf of the City, the Tree Committee, the Eco Rotary, the Guerrilla Gardeners, and some very hard-working Girl Scouts from Troop 40021. “The Scouts put in 25 plants out of the 120 we’d brought!” said Melinda. “They were incredible.”

Under Taylor's tutelage, the Guerrilla Gardeners and Eco Rotary will be back to maintain the new Pollinator Garden, in tandem with the City. The next step: adding signage to lead visitors through the gardens on an educational tour.

"And because we chose plants that bloom at different times," Noah said, "when you visit the park there will most likely be something in bloom."

"It’s important to remember that native plants take time to get established, though," said Melinda. "Their roots take time to find resources, so the Pollinator Garden's big floral explosions won’t be immediate. Once they’re established, their beauty is more long-lived. Eventually the Garden will only need to be maintained once a year."

Joe Woods felt the project had a positive impact. “The City plans on taking the successes of the Bayshore Bluffs Park and applying them to restore the butterfly habitat at Morro Cove,” he said. “The Pollinator Garden will also provide information to residents seeking to add similar plants to their gardens at home.”

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