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Shade House: Home Sweet Home for 65,000 Plants
Hundreds of native plants growing inside the Shade House at Presidio Nursery.
 
The Presidio Nursery has long been “the little greenhouse that could.” Each year about 65,000 native plants emerge from aging buildings that sometimes need as much TLC as the seedlings themselves. This summer the nursery is enjoying a long-awaited home improvement project as its 17 year old “shade house” is replaced with a modern structure that increases its blooming capacity. The new shade house is the latest step in an ongoing effort to upgrade the nursery’s facilities to support the park’s restoration needs.
 
 
Made in the Shade
A shade house is a transition zone where seedlings go for three to nine months to develop “street smarts” before they are out-planted at restoration sites. Here they are gently exposed to what life in the outdoors is really like. Protection comes through a filtered woven cloth material which reduces direct sunlight and rain. The plants are also exposed to some pests, which makes them stronger as they adapt to natural conditions.
 
The new 72’ x 110’ shade house replaces a beloved but outdated structure built nearly two decades ago by the nursery’s early volunteers. The updated facility is safer and uses water far more efficiently. In fact, once the older structure is removed, a wetland area will be created on site to clean runoff from the nursery, allowing the water to be used for irrigation. The new shade house will be able to use the gray water from these wetlands to care for the young plants. The wetlands will also protect the newly restored Dragonfly Creek, which flows next to the nursery grounds.
 
 
Building for the Future
The shade house, as well as the recently built Seed and Plant Lab, a high-tech building for processing, storing, and treating native plant seeds, are a part of the overall vision to upgrade and expand the nursery. Over time, new structures such as indoor and outdoor classrooms, an interpretive center, and a large gathering space will be created to support new programs. The structures will be environmentally friendly, too. Rainwater harvesting and storage, sustainable flooring, energy efficient and low flow fixtures, skylights and insulation, permeable pavement, and nontoxic, reusable, and biodegradable building materials will be used.
 
 
Get Involved!
The nursery hosts regular volunteer drop-in programs where volunteers nurture native plants. Activities include transplanting seedlings, pruning, composting, seed collecting, and taking care of the nursery’s native plant demonstration garden. Join us!
 
The nursery program is led by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, the Presidio Trust, and the National Park Service.
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