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.