Flora and Function of Floating Islands

Visitors to the Lago Santa Margarita Beach Club may have noticed a few new features in the harbor: twenty-two floating botanical islands. These islands are part of the Lake Ecosystem Restoration Project, and will be valuable instruments in maintaining the Lake’s health and beauty. The Lake Ad Hoc Committee worked closely with Eco Lake Solutions to ensure the islands complement the Lake’s natural viewscape while deterring golden algae growth.

The floating islands were delivered and planted in November and December of 2018. Each island covers approximately 52 square feet and hosts approximately sixty plants. The plants on the islands have been curated for both beauty and effectiveness in water quality management. Tall plants such as papyrus and canna lilies in the center of the island will draw the eye upward and towards the peak of the Santa Ana Mountains. Plants that trail over the edges of the islands, like water clover, fairy lily, and water hyssop will visually blend the islands into the waterline. Filling the space between, perennials and shrubs such as calla lilies and water mint will add depth and fullness to the islands. Each of these plants has deep root systems that take well to aquatic habitats and outpace the growth of golden algae.

As each plant adjusts to its new home on the islands, the shoot (or above-ground portion of the plant) will be pruned so the plant can focus its energy on creating hardy underwater root systems. This process can take approximately six to nine months, during which the plants will be held in the Beach Club harbor. Though the islands will look bare for a few months, the plants will be hard at work developing root systems that will display lush foliage in time. The plants will “incubate” in the Beach Club harbor for approximately six months as they adjust to their new environment.