In June of 2002, we received a Teacher Action Grant from Aquatic Outreach Institute (AOI) to create a habitat garden. The garden is planted with California native plants to provide habitat for beneficial insects, butterflies, birds, and other wildlife.
Goals for the Dover Habitat Garden:
1. To create habitat for local, native insects and animals.
2. To educate our school community and neighborhood about the benefits of growing local, native plants.
3. To certify our garden as a Wildlife Habitat Garden through the National Wildlife Foundation.
What is a native plant?
A native plant is a plant that has evolved and grown in a particular place for thousands of years. California is particularly rich in natives. While most states have counts somewhere between 1,200 and 2,900 native plants, California has more than 6,000. According to the California Native Plant Society Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants of California, 1,467 native plants are rare or endangered. More than 1,200 plants are native to the East Bay in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Two examples of California native plants are the California poppy and Oak tree.
Why grow native plants?
1. Gardening with local natives is better for wildlife.
2. Gardening with local native plants conserves water and protects water quality.
3. Gardening with local native plants helps prevent the spread of invasive species.
Native Plant Communities
California native plants can be found in four plant communities: woodland, scrubland (chaparral), grassland, and riparian (creeks). Many examples of woodland and scrubland communities can be found through out the East Bay Regional Parks. However, there are few remaining examples of grassland and riparian plant communities in our area due to urbanization, cattle grazing, and invasive species. Our Habitat Garden will feature all four plant communities.
Not Your Ordinary Garden
Unlike our small Butterfly Garden project, the Habitat Garden does not provide instant pretty color. Instead, the beauty of the Habitat Garden is found in the small details of a spider web shimmering in the sun, the delicate seed of a blooming coyote bush, or the tiny wildflowers within grassy meadows. Like the sleepy brown hillsides that blanket our state in fall, many California native plants are brown now too. In fact, they’re dormant, waiting for the rains to come and awaken them. Many natives that we will plant are small, rare, and hard to find, while others can grow quickly and can be seen frequently along our freeways. The Habitat Garden will mature slowly and with patience, wildlife will come to find a home in the heart of our school