by Kaija Gibbs
The Orinda Garden Club has been taking advantage of the wonderful weather this late summer/early fall and has spent a lot of time exploring the outdoors. In keeping with the OGC’s 2019 theme of “Close to Home,” most of our wanderings have been nearby.
Bay Visions Presidio/Crissy Field Field Trip
On September 25thwe ventured furthest from home and met up with other Bay Area garden clubs for a Bay Visions field trip to the Presidio in San Francisco. About 20 of our members attended and enjoyed an informative presentation on restoration efforts at the Presidio and Crissy Field. We were also treated to an amazingly tasty and “trash-free” lunch.
P4P Sibley Volcanic Park California Pipevine Walk
On October 17thwe moved a bit closer to home with a Partners 4 Plants hike in Sibley Volcanic Park with the Piedmont Garden Club. Along with the hike we were treated to an informative talk on the importance of native pollinators, especially the California Pipevine.
California pipevine (Aristolochia californica) won a Freeman Medal Honorable Mention in 2017 for the Orinda Garden Club and is the exclusive food source for the larvae of the Pipevine swallowtail butterfly, Battus philemon hirsuta. This butterfly is completely dependent on the host plant for survival.The red-spotted caterpillars eat the leaves of the pipevine and then use the flowers as a secure enclosure to undergo their transformation from larvae to butterfly. The leaves of the plant contain a toxin, which when eaten by the caterpillars, makes them unpalatable to predators.Urban encroachment has greatly diminished available habitat for the Pipevine swallowtail butterfly. As a native plant, California pipevine requires only light summer watering, making it particularly desirable in areas with little or seasonal rainfall. It can tolerate almost any soil and is very low maintenance. Endemic to northern California and native to the Sacramento Valley, San Francisco Bay area, Sierra Nevada foothills, it thrives in Zones 8 to 10.
With the help of East Bay Regional Parks botanist, Michele Hammond, a group of volunteers planted pipevine plants in three different locations within the park — Sibley, Huckleberry and at the Alvarado entrance to Wildcat Canyon. They will be monitoring the different locations to see how the plants do. It takes a few years for the plants to be established. If all goes well, they will plant more next year.
Planting California pipevine plants in our Orinda gardens can lead to butterfly visits and increased butterfly populations.
Historical Walk of Orinda
On October 22nda group of 18 members joined together to learn about the history of our town and efforts being made to conserve our past. Led by our very own Laurie Smith, our P4P co-chair and a volunteer with the Orinda Historical Society, we strolled all around town and gained a better appreciation for our hometown. Did you know Orinda was a stop on the Pony Express? Or that a railroad brought sightseers to Orinda on the weekends for dancing and picnics? Rumor has it that Casa Orinda bought their fried chicken recipe from Colonel Sanders and still keeps it under lock and key. There is also evidence that a group of Native Americans made the 16th fairway at Orinda Country Club their home. Conservation efforts have led to a greater understanding of Orinda’s contributions to the history of the Bay Area and Laurie gave us pride in our community and an awareness of why conservation matters.
Orinda Garden Club has been busy so far this year but still has much more fun planned!