El Viento Pocket Park
Our most recent and ongoing project is to complete phase-two improvements at El Viento pocket park, a small, triangular park at the corner of North Granados Drive and El Viento Street, just a block west of the Solana Beach Fire Station. The City of Solana Beach approached the SeaWeeders in 2019 about taking the park to a "next level." It had been created through road improvements and neighborhood volunteer efforts about a decade earlier, but suffered from erosion after heavy rains. Another challenge: There is no access to water on the small site for irrigation.
In September, 2019, our club won a $4,000 grant from the Solana Beach Foundation to pursue improvements. The City Public Works department and Public Arts Commission also promised financial support to maintain the park, which is one of 20 public art sites in the city. Katie Pelisek of Pelican Landscape Design developed a landscape concept plan to include water-wise aloes, agaves, yuccas and cacti, as well as Sea-Lavender, Blue Bush Wattle, Crown of Thorns and Mexican Lobelia.
Many of these plants were donated by neighbors and nursed by club members through the hot, dry summer. In February 2020, work began to address site drainage issues and improve the soil. More than 40 boulders were placed to prevent erosion and provide seating for stunning ocean views. Jackhammers were used to break up compacted soil and an initial planting was completed before March brought almost weekly rains. On a couple of clear days between storm fronts, we laid 16 yards of mulch, thanks to the help of a dozen community-minded sixth graders from nearby Skyline Elementary School.
Additional community plantings days are planned.
Solana Beach Fire Station
Native Garden at Fire Wall Sculpture,
In March 2019, we partnered with artist Betsy Schulz to create a boulder seating area and native garden around her stunning Fire Wall sculpture at the Solana Beach Fire Station, Lomas Santa Fe Drive at El Viento Street.
Native plantings (many donated by the artist and our members) include white sage (salvia apiana), toyon (heteromeles arbutifolia), Lemonade berry (rhus integrifolia), Chapparal Bush Mallow (malacothamnus fasciculatus), San Clemente Island Bush Mallow (malaconthamnus clementines), and Trichostema lanatum (woolly blue curls), as well as Dudleya, "Sticks on Fire' (euphorbia tirucalli), various aloes, and a new Torrey Pine.
After laying a bed of cardboard and newspaper (to the great amusement of local firefighters) to prevent weeds, SeaWeeder volunteers helped spread several yards of mulch around the plantings. Throughout Spring and Summer, a team of club volunteers weekly hand watered the sometimes finicky natives to help them get established.
Rios trailhead: San Elijo Lagoon
Our San Elijo lagoon patrol completed extensive replanting and added a retaining wall/sitting area at the North Rios trailhead in February 2017. Toyon, Lemonade Berry, Baccharis, Artemisia, Buckwheat, Monkey Flower, Bladderpod, Phacelia, Western Wallflower, California Fuchsia and Blue-eyed Grass were installed, all of the plants coming from the lagoon conservancy’s own nursery.
We teamed again with the Nature Collective (formerly, the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy) in February 2020 to refresh the native plant landscape. Volunteers continue to assist with watering and clean up after hikers at the popular trailhead.
Solana Beach Post Office
In 2014, the SeaWeeders led a major effort to re-landscape the Solana Beach Post Office, with significant help from the Solana Beach Presbyterian Church's Community Outreach program and the local Rotary Club. Along with new plantings, the $11,000 re-design included a seeded-concrete patio, bike rack, two benches, sculpture platforms and formal paths that replaced the raggedy trails customers had worn through the old iceplant.
Ever since, weeding, trimming and maintaining one of the club’s marquee beautification project has been chiefly a volunteer activity.
In 2017-18, work teams began tackling the overgrown fortnight lilies, replanting with more lilies to maintain the historic design, but also adding water-wise aloes, aeoniums, agaves and anigozanthos (Kangaroo Paws). The Club also trimmed trees and painted the flag pole and railings.
To deter weeds and nourish the soil, we laid a bed of newspaper and cardboard between the plants and covered with a hearty layer of mulch.
In 2019, one of our founding members generously donated a Forest Pansy Redbud tree (Cercis canadensis), adding a burst of cheerful pink flowers to the Spring bloom. Future plans include addition of another seating bench near the south parking lot and continuing care for the site's mature trees.
Special thanks to Brian Fujita, Betsy Penberth, Jane Morton and many others for countless hours of weeding, pruning and planting, as well as to the design team of Irina Gronborg, Peggy Martin, Michele Stribling, and Katie Pelisek of Pelican Design. Tina Zucker generously donated many of the succulents for the site on South Sierra Avenue.
Grab your gloves and join our volunteers most Saturday mornings at the P.O. Or click here to support our 'P.O. Posse' with a donation.
And in 2021 — Fresh Paint!
Gardener and handy-man extraordinaire Jimmy Joe Gooding in March completed refurbishment of the colorful Topiary sculpture at the Solana Beach Post Office.
The sculpture by artist Christi Beniston was one of a grouping of four she created about a decade ago for the El Paseo Invitational Sculpture Exhibit “Topiaries” in Palm Desert. The set was purchased by the City of Pasadena, but eventually broken up. This tower came back to Solana Beach and was displayed on North Cedros for a time before making its way to the Post Office about six years ago.
Jimmy Joe took advantage of some barefoot weather to help bring the topiary “back to its former glory,” as Christi says. “I wanted a good Santa Ana,” he explained. He figured out how to dismantle some top sections to sand and repaint in his home workshop. The rest of the work was done on site, with sample sizes of exterior-grade paint, masking tape, and an industrial-strength overcoat of varnish. The color pallet is “95 percent” aligned with the original, he said. “I went for a pinker pink and an oranger orange.”
Coastal Rail Trail Community Garden
In 2004, the Club adopted a section of the then newly created Coastal Rail Trail, which winds long the eastern side of Highway 101 through Solana Beach. Volunteers still tend to the plot, which features Torrey Pines, native plants and shaded benches across from Solana Beach City Hall.
Eastern Gateway to Solana Beach
Our members helped design the garden around a serpentine welcome sculpture at the eastern gateway to Solana Beach at Lomas Santa Fe and Highland Drive.
Volunteer with us!
Our members welcome helpers! Contact SBSeaweeders@gmail.com to inquire about upcoming volunteer opportunities or offer your services.