Lake Cunningham Native Plant Garden
Category: Habitat Restoration
CNPS volunteers have been working since 2002 to establish a California Native Garden at Lake Cunningham Park, one of the largest regional parks in San Jose. Their goal is to enhance the environment at Lake Cunningham Park by removing invasive plants and planting California native wildflowers, perennials, and shrubs; to provide summer shade through native tree planting; to encourage community participation; to create a sustainable, low-maintenance landscape; to enhance nature-based recreation; and to create wildlife habitat.
The native garden project began in 2002 when neighborhood residents who were CNPS members sought and received permission from the park staff to plant wildflower seeds in selected areas of the park. This effort was unsuccessful because of the huge seed bank of invasive annuals and perennials at the park. From the second year onwards, volunteers focused their effort on controlling invasives and planting native shrubs, perennials, and groundcovers.
A grant from San Jose Beautiful funded the expansion of the garden along the paved path from the parking lot to the lake. A CAP grant from the City of San Jose funded the construction of a native plant nursery in the maintenance yard of the park.
Ranger Mark Rayner installed an interpretive sign at the entrance to the native garden, and signs at the Tully Entrance and near the parking lot. As part of the skate park project, the seasonal stream was lined with river rocks.
In 2006, the frontage bed along Tully Road was mulched with help from San Jose Conservation Corps, and planted with native plants using a grant from San Jose Beautiful.
In 2009-2010, a boy scout eagle project expanded the garden along the lakeside path, and a girl scout team expanded the garden to the east of the parking lot.
A listing on volunteermatch.org attracts student groups and other volunteer groups from all around the South Bay. Today, the native garden logs over 1,000 volunteer hours each year.
Volunteers are welcome at the California Native Garden and nursery. Tasks include weeding invasive plants, mulching, watering, propagation, and planting. No prior experience necessary. Earn community service hours by working outdoors near the lakeside.
Lake Cunningham Park, 2305 S. White Road, San Jose.
Saturdays, 8-11am (summer hours), 9-noon (winter hours)
Lake Cunningham Volunteers egroup
Byddi Lee's Blog about the Native Garden at Lake Cunningham