By Sean Eshelman
Special to The Alpine Mountaineer
A new trend has been sweeping the San Bernardino Mountain communities. Rather than filling their yards with grasses and other plants requiring high amounts of water, attention and care, many residents are opting for a more sustainable route and landscaping with flora native to our mountains.
This Saturday, Oct. 15, The Heaps Peak Arboretum will hold their semi-annual Heaps Peak native plant sale to benefit the Rim of the World Interpretive Association (ROWIA), which operates and maintains the Arboretum. The event is ROWIA’s largest fundraiser of the year.
Among the plants offered are the more popular elderberries, dogwoods and milkweed; however, a total of 38 varieties of plants will be available for purchase during the plant sale. All plants are found naturally, scattered throughout the mountain’s ecosystem.
Landscaping with native plants provides myriad benefits, aside from their natural beauty. Native plants are evolved to thrive in their natural environment, and thus are healthier and stronger once established. Therefore, native plants require far less water, pesticide and maintenance, since they are acclimated to our dry environment.
“It’s not like gardening where you have to constantly look after what you’ve planted,” Sara Green, volunteer and member of the ROWIA fundraising committee said. “Once established, these plants require little or no watering and just take off on their own.”
What is also making native plants popular, however, are the benefits they provide to the ecosystem itself. They provide a natural habitat for wildlife – from the microscopic soil bacteria to larger birds and mammals.
With honey bee and other pollinating insect populations a current problem, native plants provide a steady and abundant source of nectar and pollen from spring to fall.
One of the plant varieties being offered is the narrow-leafed milkweed, which is integral to the lifecycle of the endangered monarch butterfly, which uses the plant exclusively as a food source as well as a place to lay eggs and transition from caterpillar to adult.
“We all need to do our part to help restore this little bit of beauty on the mountain,” Carol Kinzel, former ROWIA president and current volunteer, said of the importance of milkweed in a recent Crestline Connects community meeting.
The Heaps Peak Arboretum fall native plant sale will be held Saturday, Oct. 15 beginning at 9 a.m. and continuing until noon or while plant supplies last. However, visitors are encouraged to arrive early.
“People traditionally line up as early as 7:30 a.m.,” Kinzel said. She mentioned that the event typically runs through its stock well before noon.
Prices for plants range from $5 to $20 based on the variety; both cash and card payment methods will be accepted.
Residents who would like to support the efforts of ROWIA but are unable to attend the plant sale may do so by becoming a member of ROWIA, making a time or money donation, or by simply visiting the Arboretum and purchasing a variety of commemorative T-shirts, sweaters and other items at the Heaps Peak Arboretum visitor kiosk.
The Heaps Peak Arboretum is located at 29358 Rim of the World Highway 18 in Skyforest. Additionally, volunteers are always welcome to donate their time to the Arboretum and may express their interest by visiting https://hparboretum.com/volunteer/.