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Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

California Native Plant Garden flourishes despite setbacks

APES teacher Kathy May and student Fiona Yang discuss about their experiences with threats to their community garden.
Cathy Li
Senior Fiona Yang helps by weeding the California Native Plant Garden during tutorial. “It’s tiring but I’m also having fun,” Yang said. “It’s a good release [for stress].

Despite recent obstacles like littering, vandalism and gardeners unknowingly cutting down some of the plants, the California Native Plant Garden — managed by Kathy May and her Advanced Placement Environmental Science (APES) class — continues to flourish. 

The garden is located in the planters between the D and J buildings. Its popularity as a lunch spot, according to APES student senior Fiona Yang, has worsened the problem. 

“Every day we have students who throw their food and trash into the garden. Every time we’re weeding, we need to take out the garbage first,” Yang said. “It makes me feel really sad because [students] should throw their trash into the trash can.”

In addition to volunteer gardeners like Yang, May and her students have built brick enclosures around some of the more delicate plants and put up signs in hopes of preventing further damage. 

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“It’s pretty amazing to see [the plants’] growth, but they’ve been damaged a lot by students and gardeners,” May said. “It seems like every time they get thriving, someone comes in and knocks them down a notch or two. I’m just trying to let them recover.”

However, since California native plants are genetically predisposed to survive wildfires and other natural disasters, the flora should recover with time as long as the roots aren’t damaged. This, according to May, is the beauty of growing native plants.

“Those plants out there all come straight from what would grow right here in Southern California,” May said. “Instead of using plants that require so much maintenance and fossil fuel energy and things that are just polluting our air, we’re trying to make it a self-sustaining ecosystem.” 

The California Native Plant Garden was established in 2023 and includes specimens such as the manzanita, island snapdragons, white sage and salvia. 

“What we also like about California native plants is that they provide habitats for pollinators and they help increase the biodiversity of our school, which means greater ecosystem function [and] greater resilience with climate change,” May said. “Yeah, I love them.” 

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Cathy Li
Cathy Li, Print editor-in-chief
Hi everyone, my name is Cathy Li and I’m in the 12th grade, serving as your Print editor-in-chief. Though I blame Pubs for my irrationally strong hatred of Oxford commas and at least 23% of my stress-induced breakouts, I wouldn’t trade journalism for the world. I’m glad to have found an avenue in which my natural nosiness is celebrated.
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