Category Archives: Parks

Twilight Tours In The Botanic Gardens

Dear Friends,

Join us for a cool evening stroll!
Tours begin at 7:00 PM and will last until around 8:30 PM, followed by dessert/refreshments on the patio.

We will be hosting two Twilight Tours this summer:

July 25th
August 15th

Tours begin at 7:00 PM and will last until around 8:30 PM, followed by dessert/refreshments on the patio.

A follow-up message will be sent with additional details and RSVP information.

If you have never been in the Botanic Gardens come nightfall, you are encouraged to attend this event. It is unbelievably serene and mysterious in the evening, and always a relief from the heat of the day.  The tours are led by our docents.

As always, we hope to see you there!

~Your Friends at the UCR Botanic Gardens

A Parklet

Ugly parking places transformed into delightful dining spots. Or outdoor art galleries. Or herb gardens that scent the air as you head into a restaurant.

The idea of transforming dingy parking spots and other unused curbside spaces into visually enticing mini parks is a movement gaining traction across the U.S.

Now Redlands is getting on board.

The city is launching a Parklet Pilot Project that will lead to the creation of least one small sidewalk or curbside park by Sept. 19, the ninth annual international Park(ing) Day.

Ryan Berk, 29, who owns two downtown businesses, one of which has a small park/herb garden next to it, and is leading the way on the parklets idea, said they will set Redlands apart from other well-known historic downtowns in Southern California.

“This is something that Claremont doesn’t have, that Old Town Orange doesn’t have … that will make us unique,” he told the City Council on Tuesday, March 4.

He envisions a collaboration of artists, architects and business owners creating visually interesting and unique spaces downtown.

Patty Hart, manager of the Olive Avenue Market, envisions the market having one of the first parklet in the street out front. The business already has obtained city permission to use the parkway in front of the business for tables and chairs, but would like to expand into an Olive Avenue parking spot.

“We think that we’re in the perfect location for a pilot project,” Hart said.

Councilman Jon Harrison presented the concept, which he said would be a year-long effort to create several parklets without spending a lot of money or using much city staff time. Four people have volunteered to serve on an organizing committee, he said.

Several other businesses have expressed interest in creating parklets – Martha Green’s Eatery on Citrus Avenue, Gerrard’s Market on Center Street, Augie’s Coffee Roasters on Fifth Street and Rok N Fondue on State Street.

The parklets would not all be in the street, Harrison said. On State Street, for example, where parking is at a premium, they could be created in areas where the sidewalk bows out for a tree well, he said.

The idea originated in San Francisco in 2005, when Rebar, an art and design studio in the city, paid for two hours of parking in a space along a downtown street. They rolled out a length of sod, plopped down a bench and a boxed tree and created a temporary park in a city more focused on vehicles than urban open space, the Park(ing) Day website states.

A photo of the park was shared across the internet and the idea caught on. The next year, 47 parks were created in 13 cities in three countries across two continents, the website states. By 2011, Park(ing) Day had become an annual September event. That year, there were 975 parks in 162 cities in 35 countries across six continents, the website states.

Riverside has held several Park(ing) Day events, when landscaping businesses, architects and even the city’s parks and recreation department have created parks for a day along Mission Inn Avenue. But none has remained in place longer than a day.

Redlands Councilman Bob Gardner said he saw parklets while visiting Grand Junction, Colo.

“As you drive through the Main Street area there are these things that catch your eye … and break up what frankly would be a kind of boring downtown,” Gardner said.

Downtown visitors shouldn’t be worried about the loss of parking spots, he said, because it would be good for most of them to walk a little farther to their destinations.

“In the long run we need to get people out of their cars and encourage habits that don’t depend on using the car for everything we do,” Gardner said.

Mayor Pete Aguilar pointed out that the city’s redesign of Ed Hales Park at Fifth and State streets was intended to provide opportunities for restaurants to use the space, and that State Street Deli, across the street, already offers sidewalk dining.

“So we do some of this already, we just don’t call it that officially,” Aguilar said.

Harrison said he hopes the architecturally designed parklets will be more successful than a mobile park the city created a couple of years ago by turning a shipping container into a planter with seating.

“In certain situations that may be ideal, but we haven’t found the right spot for that one yet, he said.

The goal is to launch the year-long pilot project on Sept. 19. Between now and then, a committee of four volunteers will meet with city staff to develop guidelines and regulations, and talk with business people to find out how receptive they are and what concerns they have.

Harrison said the trend toward creating small, useable outdoor spaces is exciting for communities that want to see “downtowns being the living rooms of cities again.”

Contact Jan Sears at 951-368-9477 or


Redlands is joining a long list of cities that are creating small parks to make commercial areas more inviting.

WHAT: Small, attractively designed areas in a parking space or along a sidewalk that offer seating, landscaping, bicycle parking and may incorporate art.

WHERE: Five businesses have expressed interest in creating a parklet.

OBSERVATION: Park(ing) Day is observed internationally on the third Friday in September.


Urban Vegetation Deters Crime

More Green? Less Mean

Green plants in urban landscapeAccording to a new study from Temple University, well maintained green spaces can decrease urban crime: Temple professor Jeremy Mennis found that areas of Philadelphia with more greenery experienced lower crime rates. The study explains that this is because of “the calming impact that vegetated landscapes may impart, thus reducing psychological precursors to violent acts.” []

Contrary to convention, vegetation, when well-maintained, can lower the rates of certain types of crime, such as aggravated assault, robbery and burglary, in cities, according to a Temple University study, “Does vegetation encourage or suppress urban crime? Evidence from Philadelphia, PA,” published in the journal, Landscape and Urban Planning.Read more at:

Lawn Party

Urban Green Spaces Can Keep You From Feeling Blue


Author Jacqueline Detwiler


a 25 percent increase in green space within 1.5 square miles of a person’s home increased life satisfaction by 1 percent and decreased mental distress by 5 percent



Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York’s Central Park and father of American landscape architecture, was a big believer in the restorative powers of urban greenery, once saying, “We want a ground to which people may easily go when the day’s work is done … where they shall, in effect, find the city put far away from them.”

But does just living near parks and gardens increase your life satisfaction? Recent research from the University of Exeter’s European Centre for Environment & Human Health suggests it might.

The scientists assessed the amount of green space (i.e., parks and gardens) across England and then compared it against various psychological measures in 10,000 people across 18 years.

Even controlling for factors like income, education, marital status and local crime, they found that a 25 percent increase in green space within 1.5 square miles of a person’s home increased life satisfaction by 1 percent and decreased mental distress by 5 percent. Data on how many squirrels got into the roses again were conspicuously absent.

Paris Hires Sheep To Mow City Lawns

Four French ewes have ditched their country pads for the bright lights of Paris. If the city government likes their work, it may not be long until tourists see other eco-friendly animal lawnmowers at the Eiffel Tower.

sheep mowing pairs city lawns

PARIS — Will tourists soon see flocks of baaing sheep at the Eiffel Tower and bleating ewes by Notre Dame cathedral?

That could be the case, since Paris City Hall this week installed a small flock of sheep to mow the lawn at the city’s gardens, replacing gas-guzzling lawnmowers.

The media came out in full force to greet the four ovine landscapers.


The media came out in full force to greet the four ovine landscapers.

Four woolly ewes — shipped in from an island off the Brittany coast — are currently munching the grass surrounding Paris Archives building. The number of sites doing that could expand from October in and around Paris.

The goal of the experiment is for sheep to graze at intervals until autumn on the parcel of land and to maintain it without weed-killers.


The goal of the experiment is for sheep to graze at intervals until autumn on the parcel of land and to maintain it without weed-killers.

The ovine-operation follows a successful stint last year by two goats that were hired privately by the Louvre to mow the lawn at Tuileries, central Paris’ grand 17th-century gardens.

Motorless and independent, the four-legged workers contentedly munch day and night — oblivious of the France’s strict 35-hour work week.

A similar experiment in a Paris suburb found that sheep droppings attracted small insects, which in turn helped bring back the swallow population.


A similar experiment in a Paris suburb found that sheep droppings attracted small insects, which in turn helped bring back the swallow population.

A similar experiment in a park outside Paris even found that sheep droppings were a benefit, bringing swallows back to the area.

The sheep are part of an ‘eco-grazing’ experiment in the 19th district in Paris.


The sheep are part of an ‘eco-grazing’ experiment in the 19th district in Paris.

“It might sound funny, but animal lawnmowers are ecological as no gasoline is required, and cost half the price of a machine,” said Marcel Collet, Paris farm director. “And they’re so cute.”

Paris City Hall, meanwhile, has big ambitions for its sheep. “I can imagine this very easily in London and New York … even Tokyo,” said Fabienne Giboudeaux, Paris City Hall’s director of Green Spaces. “And why not have them at the Eiffel Tower?”

The Ouessant sheep hail from an island off the Brittany coast.


The Ouessant sheep hail from an island off the Brittany coast.

The City Hall initiative was inspired by a handful of private French companies that have been hiring sheep and goat lawnmowers for quite some time.

Sylvain Girard, owner of

Francois Mori/AP

Sylvain Girard, owner of “Ecomouton” inspects a tiny worker. Ecomouton has 260 sheep working landscaping gigs for major French companies.

Alain Divo is the director of one such company, Ecoterra, whose goats worked at the Tuileries last summer. He said having animal lawnmowers is great for biodiversity.

“We installed some at the Parc des Sceaux (a famous park outside Paris), where the swallow population had completely disappeared. Because the droppings attract small insects, the swallows all came back in two years,” he said.

“It might sound funny, but animal lawnmowers are ecological as no gasoline is required, and cost half the price of a machine,” said Marcel Collet, Paris farm director.


“It might sound funny, but animal lawnmowers are ecological as no gasoline is required, and cost half the price of a machine,” said Marcel Collet, Paris farm director.

Parisians who cringe at the sight of poop may worry that sheep droppings could ruin their pristine City of Light. But Divo said goat and sheep poop crumbles away in days to an odorless, inoffensive powder that serves as potent fertilizer for the grass.

Another company known as Ecomouton, (Ecosheep in English), currently has 260 sheep working the premises of top companies such as Gaz de France. Ecomouton plans to expand that number to more than 600 sheep by the end of 2013.

Its director, Sylvain Girard, said he’s surprised by the initiative’s success, with interest coming in from countries such as the Britain, Germany, Belgium and Russia.

He’s said the idea came to him by chance.

“I have a company myself with lawn, and I was always running about after the guy who was meant to mow the lawn. One day I just thought: ‘What if I just put in sheep?'” said Girard. “It was a bit of a wacky idea, but it worked.”

A Free, Pick-Your-Own Orchard Takes Root in Los Angeles

Before Seattle developed plans for its one-of-a-kind food forest, before Guerilla Grafters took their pruning knives to the flowering trees on the sidewalks of San Francisco, there was Fallen Fruit.

The Los Angeles-based artist collective has been exploring the interrelationship of public space, urban planning and food through various fruit-related performances, installations and actions since 2004. And now, members David Burns, Matias Viegener, and Austin Young are bringing California’s first-ever publicly funded community orchard to Los Angeles County.

Twenty-seven trees have been planted in Del Aire park, which sits in an unincorporated area of L.A.’s South Bay, each chosen to be “fruitful and abundant” in the particular climate that exists west of Interstate 405 (it’s more than a cultural divider, apparently). Burns tells TakePark that they tended predominately toward “things that you don’t typically buy,” like persimmons and pomegranates.

Lemons, limes, various hybrid stone fruit, and a few different types of figs are also among the trees included in the orchard. The group plans to provide fruit pickers and maps of the trees, but beyond that general guidance, Burns says that as far as Fallen Fruit is concerned, the fate of the orchard in in the community’s hands.

Fallen Fruit was initially born as a cartography project: The group charted the publicly accessible fruit trees in various neighborhoods around Los Angeles, distributing the maps online. The artwork helped residents interact with their communities, showing people that they could turn to local resources like the Meyer lemon tree that’s branches reach over an alley rather than a taking a trip to the grocery store. This on-going mapping effort, which has since expanded across Los Angeles and around globe (curious to know where all of the guanábana trees are in Cali, Colombia? There’s a map for that), was followed by fruit-tree adoption events, community jam-making parties, and eventually public orchards like the one at Del Aire.

When there are plans to rehab a public park, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission is often involved with bringing artworks to the space. When considering a new vision for Del Aire in 2008, the Commission’s Project Manager for the park, Letitia Fernandez, tells TakePart that the Victory Garden installations by Amy Franceschini and Futurefarmers, done in collaboration with the city of San Francisco, inspired the Commission to pursue a food-related artwork. “I pulled together a list of artist that were working at the intersection of food and art and put out a call to those folks to apply for what was essentially a year long residency,” Fernandez says of the Commission’s initial outreach. “The idea was to do civic engagement activities to gauge the interest in the community of having some kind of public gardening project in the area,” with the hope of following those one-off events with a permanent installation of some sort.

Fallen Fruit was on that list, and the group’s idea for a public orchard beat out the other food-art proposals, earning the trio $40,000, funded by the Public Percent for Art program, to bring the plan to fuition. As means of introducting themselves and the idea to the neighborhood, Fallen Fruit brought their signature tree-adoption and public-fruit jam events to Del Aire—engagements that both pulled in the community and expanded the boundaries of the orchard beyond its 27-tree heart. The area residents who walked off with one or more of the 50-some adopted saplings were asked to plant them in publicly accessible areas, and the trees will be included in Fallen Fruit’s map of the orchard.

While chance brought Fallen Fruit to this specific park, the symbolism that’s wrapped up in the location is such that I can’t think of a more appropriate place. An office building owned by the aerospace giant Northrop Grumman and the Los Angeles Air Fore Base are just blocks away, signs of the military-industrial- and manufacturing-driven economy the South Bay has depended on (along with oil refining) since World War II.  But prior to the war, the surrounding area was integral to the County’s agriculture-based economy. So while a publicly owned orchard is a new model for growing food in Los Angeles, it also represents a return to a lost, largely forgotten history.

More recently, Jerry Brown’s Governor-Moonbeam-era signing of the Direct Marketing Act, which allowed farmers to sell directly to consumers, led to the first Southern California farmers’ market to open in nearby Gardena in 1979. The success of the market, which still takes place every Saturday, helped popularize the then-novel idea of buying produce directly from growers.

Could planting public parks with communal fruit trees be as commonplace as farmers’ markets in thirty years? Only time will tell, of course, but Burns tells TakePart that Fallen Fruit has received a number of inquires from other cities interested in bringing the public-orchard concept to their own parks—New York City among them.

The intention of the orchard is not only to help feed a neighborhood, but to draw the surrounding communities together, and as Fernandez sees it, the creation of the park was infused with that attitude on the administrative level too. “I think that that’s what’s at the core of this work, and that trickled into the approval process,” she tells TakePart. “From the beginning we had the spirit of breaking new ground, of being open and flexible, of experimentation. And I think that’s a really beautiful thing for a government agency.”

The two years of planning and development the Del Aire orchard required didn’t just involve the Arts Commission, but the office of County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (the supervisor’s deputy, Karly Katona, in particular), the Parks and Recreation Department and other agencies too. The fact that the project managed to navigate L.A. County’s rather notorious bureaucracy, happily bringing together disparate departments, has made other city planners optimistic about making a Del Aire-like park fly elsewhere.

The orchard, which will have its official grand opening in the New Year, doesn’t resemble an urban Eden just yet. Unlike popular backyard plants like salad greens or tomatoes, tree-fruit crops require a bit more patience in the beginning, but with decades-long lifespans, the wait pays off in the long run. “We do imagine that in the first few years it won’t be perceived as being abundant,” Burns says regarding the initial harvests. “But I can tell you that after this project is out of memory, the trees will be abundant and people will forget. And that’s part of the goal: to have the trees remain and the trapping of the project disappear.”

Related Stories on TakePart

Community Garden Revives Neighborhood, Creates Food for Elderly

Fruit Trees Feed Girls’ Survival in India

Urban Fowl: Community Garden Chickens Laying Lead-Filled Eggs

Willy Blackmore is the food editor at TakePart. He has also written about food, art, and agriculture for such publications as Los Angeles Magazine, The Awl, GOODLA Weekly, The New Inquiry, and BlackBook. Email Willy |

National Park Service Funds Trail Projects in 22 States and DC

Release Date: January 26, 2012

Contacts:         Kathy Kupper, 202-208-6843,

Steve Elkinton, 202-354-6938,

National Park Service Funds Trail Projects in 22 States and DC

 WASHINGTON – You’ve heard of taking a walk in a park, it will now be easier to take a walk to a park because of nearly one million dollars in trail grants announced today by the National Park Service.

The 2012 Connect Trails to Parks Awards will provide a total of $934,000 to 14 projects where national historic and scenic trails intersect with national parks and other federal facilities. The projects will restore or improve existing trails and trailhead connections, provide better wayside and interpretive services, encourage innovative educational services, support bridge and trailhead designs, and provide planning services for important trail gateways.

“We really want people to get up, get out, and enjoy the outdoors,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “It is vital for physical and mental well-being. These trail projects will provide additional places to recreate and improve access to existing parks and other green spaces.”

Many of the projects reflect National Park Service priorities such as expanding outreach, connecting to youth, enhancing urban recreation, promoting healthy lifestyles, and upgrading interpretive materials as outlined in the agency’s A Call to Action: Preparing for a Second Century of Stewardship and Engagement.

In addition to operating 397 parks across the United States and its territories, the National Park Service plays a vital role in overseeing the 52,000-mile National Trails System. The trails system dates from 1968 legislation that created the Appalachian and Pacific Crest national scenic trails. Today, the National Trails System includes 11 national scenic trails (NSTs), 19 national historic trails (NHTs), and more than 1,150 national recreation trails (NRTs).

The Connect Trails to Parks program is designed to increase awareness, appreciation, and use of the nation’s federally-designated system of trails. The years from 2008 to 2018 have been declared “A Decade for the National Trails” ramping up to the trails system’s 50th anniversary in 2018. Many of these projects will help specific trails and their related federal facilities to achieve goals associated with this commemorative decade.  At the same time, the National Park Service, as an agency, is preparing to celebrate its 100th anniversary in August, 2016.

2012 Connect Trails to Parks Project Awards



States Award Amount Project Title Trail(s) Park or Other Federal Area


$100,000 Develop Natchez Trace NST Education Program Natchez Trace NST Natchez Trace Parkway


$83,200 Landscape Painting on the New England NST New England NST Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP, Weir Farm NHS, and Thomas Cole NHS




New Hampshire

New Jersey

New York

North Carolina





West Virginia

$64,200 Implement Appalachian Trail Leave No Trace Initiative Appalachian NST 6 NPS park units8 national forests
North DakotaBroadcast network + Amtrak programs $64,500 Distance Learning Along the Lewis & Clark NHT Lewis & Clark NHT Ft. Union Trading Post NHSKnife River Indian Villages NHS
MassachusettsConnecticut $49,920 Creative Youth Engagement on the New England NST New England NST Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP + 3 other NPS sites
Minnesota $99,840 Shingobee Connection Trail/Pumphouse Bay Bridge North Country NST Chippewa National Forest
MontanaNorth Dakota

South Dakota

$19,552 Interpreting Indian Language & Culture on the Lewis & Clark Trail Lewis & Clark NHT Ft. Union Trading Post NHSKnife River Indian Villages NHS
Utah $99,996 Interpretation at Lions Park Transit and Trail Hub Old Spanish NHT Arches National Park
Utah $36,644 Non-Motorized Pathway Along the Old Spanish NHT at Moab Old Spanish NHT Arches National Park
Virginia $43,543 Capt. John Smith Chesapeake NHT/James River Assets Capt. John Smith NHT Presquile NWR, Colonial NHP, Petersburg NB, Richmond NB, and James River NWR
VirginiaWashington, DC $98,800 Implement Signage Program in Virginia and DC Potomac Heritage NSTStar-Spangled Banner NHT National Mall and MonumentsRock Creek Park

Nat. Capital Parks-East

Washington, DC $84,760 DC Park Prescriptions Initiative Potomac Heritage NST,Star-Spangled Banner       NHT, and

Capt. John Smith Chesapeake NHT

DC Area Parks, including Chesapeake and Ohio Canal NHP
Wisconsin $57,200 Children’s TV Program About the Ice Age Trail Ice Age NST Ice Age Reserve Units
Wisconsin  $31,845 Trail Construction and Upgrades – Ice Age NST Ice Age NST Ice Age Reserve Units


About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 397 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at


A Walk In The Park Boosts Performance

In a convergence of health and public planning, researchers have been zeroing in on some of the circumstances that bring optimal mental refreshment.

In what native peoples would deem a “duh” moment, researchers say taking in the sights and sounds of nature are  especially beneficial. No kidding.

Whether it’s parks or plants, the effect works. Why Unwinding Is Hard. Read more.

Syamore Canyon Wilderness Park To Have Interpretive Center

The city is planning to build a 1,000-square-foot nature center off Central Avenue near Lochmoor Drive using a $780,000 state grant. City officials have not yet set a date for completion of the center. The city parks department plans to partner with the Riverside Metropolitan Museum to offer science and nature programs at the facility.

That’s a great next step and will serve as an educational resource for Sycamore Canyon Park.

But what’s really wanted and urgently needed is a plan to develop access to Sycamore Canyon Park  from Alessandro Blvd., Canyon Crest Drive and Cottonwood Ave. That would give convenient access to trails with parking. That would also open the park to greater exploration and enjoyment.

If other communities with well cared for and accessible natural amenities areany guide, surrounding property values will rise and property crime will decline.