Our First – Hopefully Not the Last — Pollinator Garden


Status:  1/28/2022

The City of Los Angeles is the largest U.S. city to date certified as a biodiversity haven by the National Wildlife Federation – and it can get even better!  The San Fernando Valley Audubon Society (SFVAS), already an environmental champion in our region, has launched and funded a biodiversity pilot project at Los Angeles Fire Department Station 83 in Encino.  While most of the station frontage was landscaped with rock in 2021, a portion was left open for installation of a pollinator garden, with a vision of extending this type of environmental infill project throughout the City of Los Angeles to further the mission of the SFVAS.  

Fire Station 83, NW corner

The immediate goals are to increase the amount of habitat for pollinators in the community: to provide an example for the community of how this can be done and how they can be involved; to provide environmental education opportunities for local school children; and to provide a pleasant space for residents to enjoy nature. Long term goals include expanding the program to a variety of municipal facilities.  There are 106 City of Los Angeles Fire Stations, and 160 LADWP distribution stations.  While many of these facilities have installed drought-resistant landscaping, too often it is mostly rocks with a few non-native plants, which does nothing for habitat or biodiversity.  Further, many of these facilities are in areas with special needs – including park-poor neighborhoods and high fire-severity locations.  Proper design and installation of the native plant palette can be an enduring asset for any location.

Plantings include most of the listed plants.  There is a row of Toyon along the fence, a Desert Willow and an Arbutus.  The other plants are distributed along the front.

The Station 83 area has irregularly shaped planting beds and 4 mature trees.  Beginning in January 2022, the beds were cleared of weeds, reshaped, and planted with a variety of mostly native (or near-native) plants which attract a variety of pollinators.  These plants include: Arbutus “Marina”Desert Willow Chilopsis linearis   Toyon Heteromeles arbutifolia, California lilac Ceanothus conchaGolden currant Ribes aureus “gracillimum”, Baja Fairy Duster, Calliandra californica.   California fuchsia Zauschneria canumMimulus aurantiacus Sticky MonkeyflowerRed yucca Hesperaloe parviflora Yarrow Achillea “moonglow”Sage Salvia ‘Mrs. Beard’Firecracker penstemon Penstemon eatoniiShowy milkweed Asclepias speciosa, and  Common yarrow Achillea millefolium.

The garden is being professionally designed and installed.  Volunteers with the SFVAS will be watering the plants and pulling weeds as necessary.  Besides needing little or no water when fully established, the garden must be low maintenance, as the local LAFD stations have to take care of their landscaping.   The Los Angeles City Mayor’s office and City Council are following the progress of this pilot program.  We welcome their efforts to encourage this type of project throughout the City.