Prisk Elementary native garden

Mike Letteriello was at the CNPS meeting last Monday and invited all to an open house at Prisk Elementary School in Long Beach where they have an established native garden. I went on Sunday and it was marvelous. The garden is 7800 square feet and incorporates many different habitats. Mike is a community member who is retired and has worked on the garden since it was founded.

It turns out that the garden was recently profiled in the LA Times, something I discovered while visiting, so I'll share some pictures and let them cover the commentary.

Wind poppies were magnificent and a wildflower that I hadn't previously paid much attention to. I'll now be looking for a wat to incorporate them in my gardens.

I think these were desert bluebells. Amazing blue color.

The interesting thing about this cactus was that the paddles had a purple cast.

Two colors of mallow.

Pink colored Baja Fairyduster.

I'm not sure what this is.

There's a raised bed vegetable garden as well.

This spikey flower was nearly open. I thought the spikes were impressive on their own.

I spoke with a parent and garden foundation member who lamented that the teacher who has founded the garden had retired and there seemed to be no school site champion to develop lessons and be an advocate for the garden within the school. Given budget cuts in the schools, the future looked uncertain for this gem of a garden. This last year the foundation had hired a part time science teacher to incorporate lessons from the garden in the curriculum but next year the district required that the teacher go full time and be under contract with full benefits - something the foundation couldn't afford. Teachers seemed ill equipped to teach lessons from the garden.

My suggestion was to bring the plants to the children. For example, some large Clatonia perfoliata leaves, cut into bite sized pieces, could tie taste into 4th grade California history. The common name for C. perfoliata is Miners lettuce; 49ers were said to eat it as a salad substitute having learned about it from indigenous people. Understanding biodiversity in the garden could be a 5th grade science topic. There must many other similar examples.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone

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