Washington Elementary Native Garden

Help our Schoolyard Habitat Garden to Thrive: come out for Community Gardening Days – the Third Saturday each month, from 9 am to noon. Email Lois Brunet to sign up (lbrunet@pasadenaaudubon.org).

Vice Mayor Tyron Hampton at the garden

Community comes together for grand opening of new bird-friendly school garden

The November 16 Planting Day celebration at the new native plant and pollinator garden at Washington Elementary STEM Magnet (WSEM) was a big success due to the mighty efforts of volunteers, teachers, school children and their parents. Over 80 members of the community joined in for a morning of planting, learning about So. Cal. plants and the power of teaming up, nature-themed activities, and a congratulatory meal. Volunteers at the event included Principal Karrone Meeks, STEM Specialist Jodie West and Pasadena Vice Mayor Tyron Hampton, who also spoke to the crowd gathered for the occasion. The celebration continued through the week, providing 225 students additional opportunities to learn about and add plants to their new learning space.

The garden at WESM in Pasadena features California native plants that attract birds and pollinators, an outdoor classroom, and a rainwater garden with bioswales, which slow the flow of rain through the space and allow for it to drain naturally into the earth. The garden fills a large courtyard at the school and now contains favorites such as Hummingbird Sage, lupine, California Poppy and milkweed, as well as chaparral species such as Laurel Sumac and Coffeeberry.

The garden will provide students with outdoor learning opportunities and provide a habitat for native species of birds, bees, butterflies.

“We’ve been trying to bring an outdoor schoolyard program to fruition for more than eight years and it’s wonderful to see it becoming a reality, with even more opportunities for kids to learn,” said Jodie West.

Pasadena Audubon took on creating a garden for WESM as an extension of their innovative Bird Science Program, with the goal of getting students excited about the environment, conservation, and bird watching. A native plant and pollinator garden brings to life the lessons of the Bird Science Program for the students at WESM with features intended to recreate local ecosystems. The WESM garden effort was organized by PAS Program Director Lois Brunet, who used a Burke Grant from National Audubon to lay the groundwork. The garden was designed by Jesse Chang of Catalyst SGV who volunteered his time. Pasadena Water and Power also sponsored the project, providing signage and drip irrigation. The project brought together 80 volunteers from seven different organizations who contributed more than 600 hours of effort.

There is not room in this article to list all of the people who made this project happen, but to everyone, we offer our sincere gratitude and congratulations.

The WESM garden is off to a great start, helped by the winter rains that began in the week following Planting Day. Still, it could use some tender loving care in the months ahead as the new plants get established. Join us on community days – every 3rd Saturday from 9 to noon.

See also this article in Pasadena Now about the garden.