Mary DeDecker Native Plant Garden
A new addition to the Eastern California Museum in Independence is the native plant garden in the nature trail area to the north of the museum. Designed and installed through volunteer efforts of the Bristlecone Chapter of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS), the objective of this garden is to provide an aesthetically pleasing and educational showcase of the rich flora of eastern California. Equally important, the native plant garden will serve as a lasting tribute to the Owens Valley’s own distinguished botanist Mary DeDecker.
During September 2001, about 150 young plants were planted. Plants were grown from locally collected seeds and were propagated by chapter members at the Deepest Valley Native Plant Propagation Center located at the White Mountain Research Station in Bishop. Forty three species representing 18 plant families occur in the eight planting beds. The planting beds are situated among some full grown native species, including big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) and fourwing saltbush (Atriplex canescens). Many fine examples of native riparian species can also be found along the site’s two water courses, including desert olive (Forestiera pubescens), water birch (Betula occidentalis), and western hackberry (Celtis reticulata).
In its design, the garden groups plants according to the habitats in which they are typically found. Species representative of at least three broad eastern California vegetation types — Owens Valley alluvial fan, lower montane, and riparian — were included. In the northeast garden beds (downslope) the alluvial fan species predominate, and in the western area lower montane species were planted. Valley riparian species were planted nearest the water courses, especially to the east of the first bridge and near the steps.
Although most of these species are naturally drought hardy, a drip irrigation system was installed to ensure the young transplants become established. In addition, to reduce losses to herbivores, especially rabbits, protective chicken wire cages were placed around the transplants. In time, as the plants grow, they will no longer be watered, and cages will be removed.
The young garden is a work in progress. All work is being performed by volunteer efforts of Bristlecone Chapter members and friends. Much of the equipment was purchased using funds donated to the chapter in memory of Mary DeDecker. Routine maintenance will be performed by volunteers, and work parties to remove weeds and install benches and signs are anticipated. Planting new beds and/or replacing species will be an ongoing endeavor. Currently, there are plans to seed some plots with native herbaceous perennial seeds early next spring.
More Garden Photos
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