Skyline Gardens is the section of EBMUD land between Tilden’s Steam Trains and the Caldecott Tunnel (Hwy 24). This is the most botanically diverse area of its size (about 250 acres) in the entire East Bay. 272 native species have been identified so far. There are more native species here than at Huckleberry Preserve (166 species), Claremont Canyon Preserve (177 species), Mitchell Canyon (127 species), and even the Mt. Diablo Summit zone (125 species). The map below shows the core project area; each blue dot shows the location of one native species (red for a grove); 170 native plant species are found along a mile-and-a-quarter of trail.
Because of the high density of native plants, this is a great place to botanize, learn, and observe – not only species, but how they behave and associate in plant communities. As a result of invasive removals (Eucalyptus, thistles, hemlock, etc.) in the area, natives are regenerating in amazing numbers. (Nature loves a vacuum). Plants not catalogued in 100 years are popping up. The restoration work involves removing invasives before they go to seed, and letting the natives gradually reoccupy liberated space through natural dispersal. This is sometimes called the Bradley method.
Workdays are held twice weekly; midweek late afternoons (after work) and Sunday mornings for three hours each. Since May 2016, 88 volunteer workdays have been held, involving 142 people in some 550 volunteer shifts totaling over 1600 hours on site.
The project is led by naturalist Glen Schneider, an East Bay native. He grew up in a local nursery family and has been a native plant garden landscape designer/builder for over 40 years. His own garden in Berkeley is on the Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour every year.
The Skyline Gardens Project is an ongoing , multi-year project dependent upon a regular core of volunteers. Please join us and help love this beautiful land back to wholeness!