top of page

Volunteer Gardeners

Join the

Habitat Restoration Group

Habitat Restoration Workdays occur the first Saturday of the month from 9:00 a.m. to noon  - All volunteers are welcome to participate. Learn from experienced restoration team leaders, meet other gardening enthusiasts and enjoy a morning of "gardening in the Park." For more info. or to RSVP for a workday, email! 
Mark your calendars for 2023: Jan 7, Feb 4, March 4, April 1, May 6, June 3, July 1, August 5, September 2, October 7, November 4 and December 2.
Who we are

The Mt. Helix Park Habitat Restoration Group (formerly the Mt. Helix Garden Party) was formed to preserve and beautify the landscape within Mt. Helix Park for the community and visitors to enjoy.  It is the belief of the Habitat Restoration Group that cultivating this historic landmark will foster a connection with nature and an appreciation for the preservation of the habitat in its original splendor.

What we do & when we meet

The Mt. Helix Habitat Restoration Group meets regularly the first Saturday of each month for  workdays (weather permitting, RSVP for updates and cancelations); for annual workdays (for larger projects within the Park); for lectures; for outings, to local nature preserves, gardens and nurseries.  To be included in the restoration group events and projects list and receive regular invitations to events as well as updates, contact, or call the Park office during office hours Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (619) 741-4363.

California poppy

butterfly habitat

native fern

pearly everlast


Past projects and events at the Park:
  • CNPS Tour April 9, 2022 Mt Helix Park is featured for the 2nd time on this showcase tour.

  • February 4 & 5, 2022 a team of volunteers, staff and board members join efforts in the Yawkey Trail restoration project to address erosion and improvements for the 1/4-mile trail that spans the Park's west and north facing slopes. 

  • November 2021 over the course of several planting day, volunteers added more than 200 new California native plants to the landscape, committing to water and care for them until established. 

  • 2021 First Saturday of the month workdays sustain Park habitat removing invasive weeds, adding California native plants, providing supplemental watering during a prolonged drought and dozens of other maintenance projects.

  • December 6, 2020 - More than 40 volunteers, following COVID protocol, put 200 California native plants in the ground. 

  • May 2 & June 6, 2020 (no workday on July 4) - First Saturday of the Month workdays, despite restrictions, volunteers, practicing safe social distancing, worked to clear the Park of trash and continued to remove debris from invasive plants. 

  • April 4, 2020 - First Saturday of the Month workdays continue to focus on weed abatement as the 2020 spring rains produce new crops of invasives.

  • November & December, 2019 A series of Park workdays introduce new plants all around the Park during the California native planting season. Several of the Park's invasive trees are removed by the East County Transitional Living crews.

  • November 2, 2019 Patrick Montgomery of RECON Native Plants talks about Planting for Success using tried and true California native plants that can live with little to no maintenance. Also presenting, Ann Baldridge of the Resource Conservation District, discusses her organization's commitment to educating the public about cultivating and gardening for pollinators and their Milkweed for Monarchs program.

  • June 8, 2019 East County Transitional Living Center volunteers remove invasive weeds from Sunrise Point, clearing the area in preparation for the summer gala in August.  Still more of their volunteers worked along the Park's slopes to remove unwanted mustard plants.

  • June 1, 2019 regularly scheduled Habitat Restoration Group workday on the southwest end of the Yawkey Trail

  • May 25, 2019 Naturalist Jim Merzbacher talked to attendees about gardening for butterflies and other pollinators at the Park's first of two annually held nature lectures. Rich with details about the area's biological history and biodiversity, Merzbacher's experience as the co-founder for the Dictionary Hill Open Space Advocates group made for an insightful presentation followed by a guided tour of the Yawkey Trail which is lined with exemplary California native plants.

  • May 4, 2019 regularly scheduled Habitat Restoration Group workday on the southwest end of the Yawkey Trail

  • April 6, 2018 regularly scheduled Habitat Restoration Group workday on the southwest end of the Yawkey Trail

  • March 23, 2019 habitat volunteers gather for a workday along the southwest end of the Yawkey Trail to remove  mustard from the slopes. Regular workdays during this peak weed season are critical for keeping up the momentum for the team's weed abatement efforts. ​

  • March 9, 2019 habitat volunteers gather for a first-Saturday-of-the-month workday along the southwest end of the Yawkey Trail to remove  mustard from the slopes. Monthly workdays during this peak weed season are critical for keeping up the momentum for the team's weed abatement efforts. 

  • February 9 regular workdays begin for 2019 along the Yawkey Trail as winter and spring rains stimulate the growth of invasive weeds.​

  • September, 2018 Solana Center hosts "All About Worms" a lecture and demonstration on how to compost with worms.

  • February 16, 2018 regular workdays begin along the Yawkey Trail as winter and spring rains stimulate the growth of invasive weeds.

  • November 18, 2017 Audubon Naturalist, Phil Lambert, was the guest speaker for the Nature/Sustainable Living lecture series presentation on the removal of invasive plants and the use of California native plants as a fire resistant landscaping component in large, natural landscapes such as those found on Mt. Helix.

  • March 11, April 30, May 21 and June 25 , 2017 - Adopt-A-Plot volunteers increase their efforts to pull invasive mustard weeds that have begun to flower and seed.  Following a healthy rainy season, these along with other weeds have posed a challenge for the Habitat Restoration Group who are hoping to rid the Park of invasive weeds before they have the opportunity to reseed themselves.  This is a critical piece of the restoration plan.

  • February 4, 2017 - Habitat restoration lead, Ed Piffard, presented a habitat restoration lecture and demonstration

      which included the planting of 65 new  California native plants.   Adopt-A-Plot and
     general volunteers will maintain and water the plants until they are established.

  • November 26, 2016 - Volunteers (including landscape professionals) staff and board members joined forces to complete the final phase of the landscaping project in front of the Park office.  30 California native plants were placed in the ground concluding improvement plans that have been in the works for more than a year.

  • April 2, 2016 - Mt. Helix Park joined 20 other public and private gardens throughout east county for the California Native Society's 2016 Garden Native Tour.  Volunteers from the Mt. Helix Garden Party and Adopt-A-Plot programs worked for weeks to plant dozens of plants along the Yawkey Trail and to pull invasive weeds.  The result was a picture-perfect day along the trail with many of the native plants in full bloom.  Dozens of tour ticket holders, many of which had never been to Mt. Helix Park, came up for the farm girl BACON TRUCK lunch stop and to join docent lead tours and question and answer opportunities.

  • February 6, 2016 - 12 Adopt-A-Plot and Mt. Helix Garden Party members planted over 180 California native plants along the Yawkey Trail, many of them donated by the volunteers themselves and still others donated by Tree of Life Nursery.  Together the same teams will water the new plants for several weeks until they are established.  Their efforts were just in time for predicted rains and the Saturday, April 2 California Native Plant Society's Garden Native Tour where Mt. Helix Park was featured along with 20 other gardens around east county.  It was a great opportunity to meet, not only the Park plant experts, but to see 20 other native gardens around east county. For more information about future CNPS tours visit

  • November 21, 2015 – Volunteers trained to become one of Mt. Helix Park's official weed abatement team members.  Guests joined board member and plant expert, Ed Piffard, for a two-hour presentation and certification that will allowed them to become part of the Adopt-A-Plot program.  Individuals/group members can be part of the Park's habitat restoration efforts by helping us to rid the "Crown Jewel of East County" of invasive mustard weed that is threatening the California native plants within the Park.  A limited number of plots are available. 

  • On November 7, 2015 - Mt. Helix Garden Party members planted more than 35 California native plants along the historic amphitheater.

  • In June of 2015 gardening team members gave the landscaping around the San Miguel Fire station some TLC with new California native plants. The team also does regular maintenance on all of the Park's recently planted restoration areas.  Look for our signs along the Yawkey Trail!

  • On June 13, 2015, Phil Lambert of the Audubon Society's Silverwood Wildlife Santuary gave a presentation and led a walkabout in the Park for a group of local enthusiasts to discuss "Birds of Mt. Helix."  Lambert's two hour lecture focused on migration, identification and even landscaping to benefit the local bird populations.  Mt. Helix Park's Nature/Sustainable Living lectures are free and open to the public.

  • On December 22, 2014 members of the Garden Party seeded the better part of our 12-acre Park with a specially purchased blend of California native seeds.  Dedicated volunteers, board members and staff continue to water and abate weeds as part of a community-wide effort to reestablish the native flora.

  • On November 1, 2014 Garden Party volunteers planted more than 20 additional native California plants on the north easterly slope.  Temporary fencing and "Habitat Restoration" signs were placed to help protect the young plants until they are established.

  • On May 17, 2014, author and landscape designer, Greg Rubin, discussed landscaping with California native plants, their drought tolerant and fire resistant properties as well as their other benefits to the environment during a free, walk-up, outdoor event.

  • On March 1,  2014, Mt. Helix Garden Party plant aficionado, Ed Piffard, discussed how to propagate California native plants.  This free one-hour lecture will help us begin to cultivate new plants for future use in the gardening team's restoration efforts and anywhere we are looking to landscape with these drought-tolerant, low maintenance varieties.

  • On February 8, 2014, Mt. Helix Park hosted a workday.  Volunteers from the Armed Forces YMCA as well as the community worked on trail maintenance and the fence around the cross.

  • On January 18, 2014, 59 California native plants, donated by one of the gardening team members, were planted along the south easterly portion of the Yawkey Trail as part of the teams restoration efforts.

  • In November of 2013 the Mt. Helix Garden Party is formed.  Members of the community and Park staff gather to discuss habitat restoration projects and how the newly formed volunteers can begin work. In addition to Park projects, the garden club members meet for garden tours, plant sales and a host of other opportunities to share their common passion for gardening.  To join the group contact our offices or email


Would you like to help but don't have the time?  Donate any of the following plants to the Mt. Helix Habitat Restoration Group for use in our restoration efforts or make a donation and we will purchase them on your behalf!  (Your donation is tax-deductible):


Holly-Leaf Cherry (Prunus ilicifolia)Toyon (Heteromeles arbutofolia)Spiny Redberry (Rhamnus crocea)Sugar Bush (Rhus ovata)Lemonadeberry (Rhus integrifolia)


To purchase any of the above yourself, go to www.reconnativeplants.comOr you can donate directly to Mt. Helix Park here


To register for the Adopt-A-Plot program, contact, or call (619) 741-4363

bottom of page