The median before and after volunteers overhauled the area. Photo submitted
What a difference a day makes. On a sunny and surprisingly still Saturday morning, the colorless and nearly barren median on Los Osos Valley Road just past South Bay Boulevard were transformed into what will grow into a decorative entry into town.
“It’s incredible,” said Pandora Nash-Karner, president of Celebrate Los Osos (CLO), the community benefit group that spearheaded the project. “People came out of the woodwork. We had so many volunteers, we will be done early.”
The job was a pretty big undertaking that involved installing irrigation equipment for reclaimed water in the 1100-ft median, planting hundreds of drought tolerant plants as well as distributing a huge pile of topsoil and another one of gravel.
It truly was a team effort with more than 100 volunteers made up of government officials, service organizations, business owners and community members. Additionally, Golden State Water installed the plumbing for the reclaimed water free of charge, the Los Osos Community Service District provided safety vests, Miner’s Ace Hardware pitched in some shovels and Starbucks provided beverages.
Los Osos resident Donna Kube was one of the volunteers that morning. She saw a posting requesting help on social media and decided to get involved.
“It’s looked kind of ugly for a lot of years,” she said. “When I saw that this was happening, and it was going to be a beautiful entryway into our little town here, I wanted to be a part of it.”
All but one of the plants were grown in Los Osos and the seeds from the remaining plant species were harvested in the town but grown in South County. For now the plants are young and rather small, but each day the median oasis will grow into its roots.
“That’s the thing about landscaping,” said Nash-Karner, “it gets better as it gets older. The idea is that as people drive by, they are going to see a continuous curve. It’s not going to be little cute groupings of plants like you might do in your own yard; it’s a continuous sweep of plants. As they mature, that will become much more evident. In the spring the plants in the middle will have beautiful reddish-pink, long stalks with blossoms or succulent flowers. It will be really beautiful.”
CLO and Suzanne Morrison, president of Central Coast Earthscapes, a Los Osos residential and commercial landscape design firm, worked for two years redesigning the area with a visual flow in mind.
“The plants in the center of the median create a flowing line that leads you into Los Osos and beautifies the entrance to our community,” said Morrison. “The landscape is a good representation of how we can create beautiful landscapes in our community using little water and maintenance to sustain them in a healthy manner.”
Plants used include Paddle plant (Kalanchoe luciae), Hummingbird yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora), Chalk dudleya (Dudleya pulverulenta), Lomandra “Shorty” (Lomandra confertifolia), Sand dune sedge (Carex pansa) and Blue Chalksticks (Senecio mandraliscae).
The median project not only rejuvenates the space, but, for some, it was a symbol of change on the horizon.
“It is the essence of community to see folks working together,” said District 2 Supervisor Bruce Gibson. “I see signs of hope in individual communities, and this is a big sign in Los Osos. In each of our communities there are really good people coming together who want to do good things. In these very challenging times, that’s really important. It makes me optimistic.”
Funding totaled $11,820 from a San Luis Obispo County Infrastructure Grant and $5,800 from County Public Works to go toward new plant materials and the new irrigation system. Celebrate Los Osos will pay the reclaimed water bill and Earthscapes will maintain the area.