Join the Los Rios Park Garden Angels, No Wings Required.

On any given hot summer day, the colorful native gardens at the Montanez Adobe in the Los Rios Park are the headquarters to flittering beneficial pollinators, soaking up the sunrays and drinking nectar from the flowers.

As you meander through the pathways you will be greeted by a variety of local Orange County butterflies that have made their way to a new home at the park. Thanks to the dedicated Los Rios Park Garden Angel volunteers, an organization started in 2009 have tended to the habitats every Thursday morning while caring and maintaining the thriving gardens.

Sadly, the butterfly populations are on the decline worldwide due to many reasons, some to loss of habitats and most from usage of pesticides and insecticides. One thing is certain the butterfly populations in our beloved Los Rios Park are on the rise. The Garden Angels have taken up this plight to strengthen our local pollinators by distinguishing the fauna and flora to benefit their declining population through the North American Butterfly Association.

In 2013 the park received recognition as a certified North America Butterfly Association (NABA) approved garden. In order to be a NABA certified butterfly garden the park needed to provide a minimum of 12 host and nectar plants from the required plant list to support regional native butterfly habitats. Many of the existing plants in the Los Rios Park were on the list, those plants that weren’t on the list were supplied by Tree of Life Nursery.

The common named plants listed below provide a strong butterfly habitat and are the correct food source to support the growing Orange County butterfly populations at the park. Included below is the list of the butterflies.

By using these plants in your garden pallet, you will help in the plight of the butterfly recovery and can gain a NABA certificate of your own. For more info

Host and Nectar :Plants, Shrubs, Trees and Vines:

  • CA Buckwheat

  • Golden ,White and Red Yarrow

  • CA Native Milkweed

  • Tropical Milkweed

  • Budlea butterfly bush

  • Toyon

  • Bush Mallow

  • Hollyhocks

  • CA Poppies

  • Passion vine

  • Ceanothus

  • Coffee Berry

  • Yellow Cassia

  • Bush Sunflower

  • Mistletoe

  • Sycamore

  • Holly Leaf Cherry

  • Coast Live Oak

Los Rios Park Butterflies

  • Monarchs

  • Mourning Cloak

  • Cloudless sulphurs

  • Yellow sulphurs

  • Anise swallowtail

  • White checkered skippers

  • Gulf fritillary

Creating a butterfly garden or caring for one is one step you can make this winter to get started and make a difference. Would you like to learn more about butterfly gardens and caring for their habitats? The Los Rios Garden Angels Volunteers are in need of more volunteers to help tend to the gardens on Thursdays. No garden experience is needed, you will be trained. Volunteer application is required as are gloves and closed toe shoes. For more details contact If you would like to create a garden of your own visit Tree of Life Nursery for workshops, plants and landscape consultants to help you.

This summer Los Rios Park will celebrate the return of the Monarch butterflies, We welcome you to join us this winter at the Los Rios Park to help prepare for their arrival. More details to follow this spring. See you at the park.

Garden Inspiration for 2018: Inspired by Mental Wellness

Nature is the best remedy and medicine for the soul. It keeps the mind and spirit healthy. The buzzword for today is wellness; we seek it from our foods, our jobs, and our vacations, even in our gardens. We create spaces and places that give us an opportunity to disconnect from the clamor all around us to reconnect with Mother Nature in exchange for a relaxed state of mind.

2017 was a year of unpredictability and turmoil from the climate surges to the barrage of media hype and hysterics 24/7.

I wanted to find out just what is on the horizon in the world for 2018. I’m excited to report that self mental wellness is the number one desire driving this new trend globally, locally, indoors and out, connecting in nature for overall health.

Mental wellness is finding a balance in ones life and on many levels using all our senses and surroundings. The World Health Organization predicts anxiety will be the #1 health issue out ranking obesity. Mental health is no longer a stigma and more and more millennial’s are making mental health a priority balancing physical and mental to slow down, disconnect with technology and process thoughts instead of rushing from one thing to the next. Being surrounded in greenery indoors or outside creates a harmonious calming effect to the brain, which in turn creates happy endorphins. Nature shifts our brain towards hope and compassion and away from stress and anger.

What are the seven impacts in 2018 that are adding to this shift towards wellness in our selves and surroundings? Here are areas to examine and ponder for a healthier you and environment.

  1. Climate Control: The last 20 years on record have been heating up globally. We are seeing it with the radical destructive weather patterns this past year. Gardening is just as unpredictable due to the ever-changing seasonal conditions. To help reduce the worry and cost, researchers have put together weather hardy resilient plants that can stand up to any condition. The ideal garden for our coastal yet arid region is a desert garden comprised of a variety of drought tolerant, cacti and trees adding seasonal color, textures, form and longevity. These plants include, Date palm, Euphorbia, fennel, irises and poppies. For hot and dry conditions try adding tall trees such as acacia, mesquite and desert willow that provide shade and help reduce heat in urban areas. Cacti and succulents are slow growing, low water use and provide structure in the landscape.

  2. Plants as social networks. Think of your plants as connected communities instead of individuals. When you walk through a forest you will encounter every square inch is a mosaic of interlocking plants, trees, shrubs and ground covers. When you plant in communities you mange entire plantings not a n individual plant. The focus becomes one of management and not maintenance freeing up weekend mowing. This planting approach creates an open natural garden that is enjoyable in all seasons using grasses, self-seeded flowers and pathways for pondering.

  3. Wabi-Sabi- The art of imperfect gardening: This is the dance between nature and nurture in the garden. It is the ancient Japanese practice that appreciates imperfections in life and the ability to age gracefully. This form or gardening allows you to relax and appreciate the humble plant forms and yes, weeds. This is the time to repurpose items that around the house, or find treasures from barns or antique stores of yesteryear objects, wheel barrel planted with bulbs and alyssum, watering can, wind mill as a water fall. Lose the lawn and your weekly mow and blow gardener. Replace with sedges, ground covers, and perennials for pollinators, birds and bees.

  4. Privacy room: Turn off the noise to breathe and relax. We need to find or create a space inside or outside to call our own just to do the art of nothing. In this moment of nothingness it’s important to have green plants all around. The plants clean the air giving you more oxygen to breathe which clears your mind. Plants to immerse around you include ferns, orchids, palms, philodendron’s, herbs and any leafy plant.

  5. Water Feature: Make a reflective splash in your garden with a simple water feature. Just the sound of running or dripping water is calming and relaxing. Slowing water down by capturing rain in barrels and storing it for landscape use has an impact in our drought conditions saving precious resources.

  6. Grow your own Protein: Planting a garden or purchasing clean local sourced sustainable vegetables is more attainable then 20 years ago. The new plant eater consumer movement is called the Flexitarian ; requesting stores to provide clean, food items that is locally sourced or food grown from their own backyards. Flexitarians are eating less meat and eat protein rich vegetables. Here is a sample of protein rich vegetables that you can plant now. Asparagus, Broccoli, Kale, Peas Millet, Spinach, Quinoa.

  7. Purple is the new color of health: Purple foods have anthocyanin, a known anti-oxidant which help fight off cancer, reduce obesity, protect the heart and has anti aging benefits. Purple foods promote mental acuity. Start the year off right by planting or purchasing beets, blueberries, plums, eggplant, purple cauliflower, asparagus, carrots sweet potatoes acai, black rice, corn and even cereal. Last put not least the Pantone 2018 palette color of the year that inspires designers for all objects worldwide is called Verdure, which is an eggplant, berry infused purple. Be sure to use this restful and restorative color in your personal surroundings, as a planting guide in your garden and as a food group, purple reigns.