Residents lend a hand to help nature thrive



VARIETY PACK—Steve Gerrity of Woodland Hills checks out the native plants for sale during Mountains Restoration Trust’s Spring Festival in Calabasas on march 23. In addition to the plant sale, the event had booths offering gardening techniques and tours of the Masson Homestead House.

VARIETY PACK—Steve Gerrity of Woodland Hills checks out the native plants for sale during Mountains Restoration Trust’s Spring Festival in Calabasas on march 23. In addition to the plant sale, the event had booths offering gardening techniques and tours of the Masson Homestead House.

While birds chirped vigorously in the background, adults and children planted about 150 coastal oak saplings on a hillside at Gates Canyon Park.

Hosted by the City of Calabasas, the tree planting on March 23 commemorated Arbor Day, an annual holiday when Americans plant trees coast to coast and learn how to care for them.

The oak saplings will take between 15 and 20 years to mature.

“We’re hoping that between 30 to 40 percent of the trees will survive,” said Alex Farassati, environmental services supervisor for Calabasas.

Once grown, the trees will provide homes for local birds and squirrels.

“Planting trees will make the world a better place,” said Jule Malkhasian, 6, who participated in the activities with her twin brother, Dane, and parents, Andrew and Jeannine Malkhasian.

“It’s something good to do for the environment,” said Joyce Liu, who brought her two children and two friends along to partake in the tree planting activity. “You want to get them involved early to raise awareness about trees and foster a sense of care for nature,” Liu said.

Parents, children and teenagers worked in groups, shoveling dirt, planting seedlings and watering the soil so roots could take hold.

A few feet away, a dozen people attended a presentation on composting and native plants to learn how to care for their grounds in an environmentally responsible way.

On the other side of town, Mountains Restoration Trust volunteers hosted a spring festival to encourage people to use native plants in their gardens.

“ It’s a day for education. We’re trying to show people how they can conserve water by growing native plants,” said Nancy Helsley, a board member for Restoration Trust.

“Drought is a major problem in California and water conservation will become increasingly important as populations grow,” said Helsley, a Calabasas resident.

Mountains Restoration Trust grows a variety of indigenous plants for restoration projects in the Santa Monica Mountains. Surplus plants, such as California wild roses, coffeeberry shrubs and California brickellbushes, were offered for sale during the festival.

Experts were on hand to answer questions about native plants and home gardening. Revenue from the plant sale will go toward protecting and restoring natural resources in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Tammy Williams-Anderson, a Thousand Oaks resident and volunteer for Mountains Restoration Trust, said native plants are easy to care for.

“They really don’t require a lot of care, provided they’re planted at the right time of year and in the right location,” she said, remarking that most native plants fare better when planted in the fall.


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