I recently visited the Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve on Saturday, April 24, 2021. I had only discovered this hidden gem via the Wizards Unite (Harry Potter) game while I was waiting in the Jack-in-the-Box drive thru on the other side of the wall. The Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve is only open to the public every second Sunday and fourth Saturday of the month. It is located at the rear of the Arthur Lee Johnson Park. Admission is free, but donations are greatly appreciated. I reserved a time to come to the Preserve online a week prior as they are limiting the number of people inside the small preserve due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The preserve is small, and you can walk both loops within about twenty minutes. I suggest taking your time to look at the various plants, especially if you go during the spring. The California poppy was in full bloom in various areas around the preserve. The walking path is akin to a figure eight so if you do the entire path you will have some overlap to get back to the entrance/exit. What I could only describe as pollen was in full effect during my visit, and it looked like snow, but I wasn’t able to capture it properly with my phone’s camera. I was actually thankful to be wearing a face mask (for COVID guidelines) or I would have inhaled a lot of pollen. This carpeted the floor which reminded me of the old movie Kingdom of the Spiders, because it looks so much like thick layers of spiderweb.
Mother Nature’s Backyard is located in a corner of the preserve aimed to educate visitors about water conscious gardening. I don’t know how often, if at all, Mother Nature’s Backyard is staffed, but you can follow their blog for information.
The Gardena Willows Preserve is also a sanctuary to pollinators such as bees and Monarch butterflies. I didn’t see any Monarchs while I was there, but bees were plentiful. I was surprised to find Thistles in the preserve, though. There are many benches throughout the preserve, including on the zig-zag bridge where you can just sit and enjoy being surrounded by nature in the middle of the city.
I’m fairly new to Los Angeles’ South Bay so I was pretty surprised that friends who have lived in the area their entire lives had never heard of the Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve. There is a well-known and larger preserve in nearby Torrance called the Madrona Marsh which I’m hoping to visit soon. With COVID restrictions loosening, museums and other attractions are re-opening. We really need to give our support by visiting, respectfully, and supporting them in any way we can. Small places such as the Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve need our support more than ever, and I’m pledging to as much as I can as soon as I can. I recently visited a small museum in nearby El Segundo which I’ll be posting about soon.