Archive for January, 2015

Have you seen the Soap Plants in Guadalupe Oak Grove Park?

On Martin-Luther King Day, I went to the Guadalupe Oak Grove Park for a walk. It was a beautiful day and, it seems, we continue to have Indian Summer days in succession. I noticed that the buds on the Blue Oak (Quercus douglasii) were beginning to open! The little flowers that lead to acorns were beginning to show as were new, green leaflets. This is, perhaps, a false spring, with heavy winds and cold weather to follow (and hopefully rain!). Cold and wind can do a lot of damage to young oak leaves, as was the case last Spring. It is good to see that the prior heavy rains and current warm weather are promoting spring-like conditions…. but this is worrisome as it is only the end of January. What can you do? Enjoy it while it lasts!


I also noticed signs of CA native wildflowers burgeoning forth! Actually there are/were few flowers, just the sprouting plants. We’ll see the flowers soon, especially if we have a string of 72 degree days! More likely we must await the end of February and March/April.

I want to tell you about one CA Native Wildflower in the Guadalupe Oak Grove Park that grows from an underground bulb, and ask you to follow its progress this Spring. The plant is called Soap Plant (common name): Chlorogalum pomeridianum, the botanical name. This plant was used by the indigenous people to a great extent. Go to the following web page to see how it was used:

To see how it looks currently, go to the following URL:

Note the ‘waviness’ of the leaves. As you enter GOGP from J. Fontana Park near the Tot lot, a good patch of the Soap Plant is on the upper trail  to your left, just as you are climbing to the first quarry site.  Now the Soap plant is ‘off trail’ for the most part; so please be careful to visit only the near-trail soap-plant sites. In ‘normal’ times, the first flowers may open just prior to Memorial Day.

Let me tell you one fascinating aspect of this plant. The flowers open like clockwork, one by one, within a minute of each other, and they go from fully closed to fully open in a matter of seconds. You don’t need slow motion or timed exposure to see these flowers open! For a little “soap opera” here’s a short PowerPoint presentation.  And here is a little soap-plant story I wrote in 2007.

Patrick Pizzo

Pat Pizzo

Pat Pizzo


Help save the Monarch Butterfly

Late, late notice… but there will be a minor planting project in TJ Martin Park, down by Coleman this noon.

If you have a little time, please help us to put in some Milkweed plants. Won’t take long. Bring a shovel and meet-up at the
the following location:

LocationThis is in the large field at the west end of the park.

Martin-Fontana Parks Association to increase the Monarch Butterfly habitat

“Monarch Decline Prompts Concern”

 San Jose Mercury News Jan. 3, 2015 narrowleaf-milkweed-v1-600x398


Endangered species protection may be in store.

Monarch butterflies are disappearing at such an alarming rate that they may become an endangered species. Our TJ Martin and Jeffrey Fontana Parks, as well as Guadalupe Oak Grove Park are poised to become an important part of the effort to bring them back to Almaden Valley.

To attract and support the Monarch Butterfly population in the Spring of 2015, Monika Gardias, a California Native Plant Society member, will be working with MFPA project managers Dave Poeschel and Patrick Pizzo, and a volunteer group, to plant several plugs of Narrowleaf Milkweed. This CA native plant and primary Monarch butterfly habitat nourishes the caterpillars and provides a site for the orange and black butterflies to lay their eggs.

narrowleaf-milkweed-v2-600x398Several areas of our parks have been identified to join the butterfly habitat established last March in Fontana Park near Golf Creek. Volunteers are needed to plant several plugs of Asciepias fascicularis, Narrowleaf Milkweed. They require only wet season water to flourish and become a butterfly habitat, joined by several species of native flowers.

If you are interested in helping on a workday sometime this month, or possible in February, please email Monika Gardias,, or Pat Pizzo, for more information.

Final Results of “Guadalupe Oak Grove Park’s Future Survey”

gogp_park_ sign2On December 31, 2014, the Guadalupe Oak Grove Survey came to a close. Seventy-two park users responded to the survey. The results are reported in the .pdf file linked below. We thank all who responded to this survey. The one message that came across loud and clear is that residents LOVE this park!

The survey results are being made available to the City of San Jose, (District 10 and Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services) and the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority. These are the people who, in cooperation, will steward the maintenance and long-range viability of the GOGP. Our intent at collecting the data was to give the City a sense of what Almaden Valley residents and park users want for the GOGP. Personally, I think we met our goal and I thank Dave Poeschel and Lee Pauser for their efforts on behalf of GOGP.

Patrick P. Pizzo, MFPA projects manager.

For the Guadalupe Oak Grove Park’s Future Survey Final Results click here.

Martin-Fontana Parks Association Membership Drive a Success

We now have 301 MEMBERS !!!

The membership of our organization has come a long way in five years. With the beginnings of an organization formed in a neighborhood home, ten neighbors began shaping the vision of what could be our future. Today, the organization now has 301 members as of December 31, 2014.


Buried Treasure


Our December membership drive was conducted by ten Association members, over four weeks, with a humorous pirate theme. Costumes at report meetings were the delight of all campaign members. In keeping with the theme, campaigners competed in securing members (buried treasure)  on their way to setting a record number of members for our organization. Now that we have reached 301 members, what does it mean for our organization?


From left to right are Pirates Sunny & Pat Wagstaff, Capt. of the Terror Crew, Rod Carpenter, Capt. of the Seadogs, Mike Kalashian, Pirate Dick Stevens, and Pirate Linda Wilson.

IMG_0709 - Copy

From left to right are Pirates Dave Poeschel & Sunny Wagstaff, Capt. Rod Carpenter, Pirates Larry Hinman, Vince Piazzisi, & Capt. Mike Kalashian.

Note:  Not shown was Pirate Pier Maggiani of the Sea Dogs, recipient of the “Pirate’s Necklace of Honor” for bringing in the most doubloons, and fellow Pirates Larry Sasscer and Patrick Pizzo.


Expansion of our sphere of influence within the community will be enhanced with our larger membership base. We now have more funds to beautify our parks. PG&E is aware of our numbers and growing stature. We hope that through new members with new ideas for now and the future it will strengthen our Association. All members are called upon as a source of volunteers for project development and Board and Committee participation. Most importantly, we look to our 301 members to save and enhance our parks for the future through a strong Martin-Fontana Park Association.

Many of you are reading this posting for the first time as new members. The Board of Directors would like to welcome you and encourage all members to take an active role in your Association. If you know of someone who would like to become a member, please have them contact Rod Carpenter at: