Skyline Gardens: Ecological Botany and Restoration. Limit 10 persons – RSVP to Glen Schneider – Outings twice a week: Sundays at 9:30 am; Wednesdays at 4:30 pm — for 3 1/2 hours. Bring water, gloves, boots, long pants and shirts.

The Skyline Trail section of the Berkeley – Oakland Hills between Tilden’s Steam Trains and the Caldecott Tunnel (Hwy 24) is one of the East Bay’s great, but little known, botanical hot spots. Actually the trail is a series of jewel-box native gardens, hence the name Skyline Gardens. East Bay CNPS is now sponsoring a thorough botanical survey of the area, and just recently, with permission from EBMUD, is combining that with restoration/invasive plant removals. This is a multi-year project.

So far 12 native species have been identified in the mile-and-a-half corridor. Because of the high density of native plants, it is a great place to botanize, learn, and observe – not only species, but also intact plant communities. We will learn natives not only as flowers, but also as seedlings, plants, seed heads, and at rest. We will learn them in community – who they grow with, and how they disperse and interact.

As a result of invasive removal natives are regenerating in amazing numbers. Plants not catalogued in 80 years are popping up. And, yes, invasive plants such as thistles, hemlock, Euphorbia and weedy grasses are also eagerly trying to establish themselves (Nature loves a vacuum). The restoration work involves removing invasives before they go to seed, and letting the natives gradually reoccupy liberated space through natural increase. This is sometimes called the Bradley method.

Each outing will combine botany and restoration. For the first hour, we will botanize and by observing learn together. Then we will follow with restoration/weeding for two hours, having gained a clearer view of what we are protecting. This is a new project, so we will be co-creating this approach together. The project is open to anyone with a strong interest and commitment, regardless of background. Because of the nature of our permit from EBMUD each outing will be limited to 10 persons, so RSVP is mandatory.

Please bring water, hats, gloves, boots, and long pants and shirts; a hand lens if you have one. Bring clippers if you have them; other hand tools will be provided. The Wednesday evening outing will work to sunset, capturing the lovely transition from sunlight to twilight.

Naturalist Glen Schneider, project leader, is an East Bay native. He grew up in a local nursery family and has been a native plant garden landscape designer/installer for over 40 years. His own garden in Berkeley is on the Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour every year.

As with any outdoor activity, there are inherent risks in participating. By attending the event, you agree that you are 100% responsible for your own safety, health and well-being.

Glen Schneider