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Volunteers clear away overgrown brush at the Equestrian Center corner to make way for a native plants garden.

An enthusiastic group has begun what they hope will be a transformative project to beautify YLP in a new, more natural, less water-dependent way, by planting vegetation that’s accustomed to our hot, dry summers and recently rain-stingy winters.

You’ve probably seen some of their first work at the Equestrian Center corner (Long Hollow Drive and Yosemite Springs Parkway). A group of 19 volunteers spent much of a sunny, springlike day last Saturday removing aging and non-native bushes, plants and other vegetation.

It’s preparation for a California native plants garden that’ll need much less watering and is adapted to our foothill/chaparral environment — plants like deergrass, sages, coyote brush, penstemon and many more. Fire safety is a top priority, of course.

Thanks go to the Ladies of the Lakes Garden Committee and the new Native Plants Live Here group, started by Leslie Lipton — whose home at Revis Way and the parkway is a bountiful native plants parkland of its own.

With 20 years of experience in California native plant gardening, Lipton leads the native plants efforts here. Native Plants Live Here works with individual residents to inspire love of their property through planting California native plants and stewarding existing treasures such as oaks and manzanita. Classes and meetings focus on basics of starting out with California natives in our yards. Lipton maintains an informative blog tailored especially for YLP, at nativeplantslivehere.com.

The LOL Gardening Committee, of course, has been a valuable contributor to YLP’s quality of life for many years, guided by expert gardener Carolyn Villi who remains much involved in the new native plants efforts. The committee has kept up the plantings in the front of the clubhouse and in the clubhouse planters and in other areas.

“Part of the whole LOL mandate is… we do things to benefit our community,” said Jean Cosby, now head of the Gardening Committee and past LOL president. “We’re just continuing on with that mandate, just enlarging it.”

After the Equestrian Center corner, the next collaboration is a plan to plant native varieties at the corner of Club House Drive and the parkway around the big granite sign.

“Even though it’s a Ladies of the Lakes/Native Plants Live Here gig now, eventually we’d like it to become a community effort,” Cosby said. The work is mostly by volunteers, and others are welcome to help out.

“It’s a lot of physical labor. We don’t want to wear out the same people,” she said with a laugh. “It’s in our hearts to spiff up this place, and be proud of having visitors come.”

The LOL Garden Committee (or club) has other events such as field trips and craft days and next month plans to tour a garden in North Fork, Cosby said.

YLP residents interested in helping out in this CA native plant initiative are invited to email Jean Cosby at jjonrevis@gmail.com and be put on her mail list or sign up on the nativeplantslivehere.com website.

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