Kids For The Bay at Blake Garden

Posted on by redwood grove

Kids for the Bay, a summer camp for area kids came to the garden for a tour and then worked in the Create with Nature Zone  with artist Zach Pine. Later a  San Rafael wildlife group came and gave a talk and demonstration with live birds & snakes and along with other educational materials.

[In]land projects at Blake

Posted on by redwood grove

Each summer the [In]land summer program from U.C. Berkeley's College of Environmental Design comes to the garden for their first assignement entitled "Revealing the Landscape". Students tour the garden looking for a site that impresses them in some way and respond with a temporary installation/intervention. These are the entries for this year.

Progress on Rain Catchment Project continues

Posted on by redwood grove
Filed under: Water, Design, Build, Video

The next part of the project will involve installing a pool at the top of the catchment area to slow incoming water and direct it south along the swale  along the road and west downhill into the flower bed. Both areas are lined with drainrock and then larger tumbled round rock will be laid in on top. For the catchment pool we had to pull out one of the cotoneaster shrubs, remove the stump and then back fill with soil and drainrock.

Work on swale project continues

Posted on by redwood grove
Filed under: Education, Design, Build

As we were working on the rain garden/french drain project we got more material donated to us from a project at the College of Environmental Design project: Trex, a recycled plastic edging board and some drainage rock to replace the rotted existing edging. As we took the opportunity to reuse the recycled materials, we made the swale wider and deeper to hold more runoff rainwater and we are also regrading the road with the road base cut from the edge of the road.

Bamboo re-reuse

Posted on by redwood grove

Structures that were built out of donated timber bamboo from the garden and recycled fabric hold Coast live oak trees that will be planted by College of Environmental Design students taught by Professors Walter Hood and Ron Rael in locations around Oakland.

Bees vacate hive

Posted on by redwood grove

On St. Patrick's Day one of our bee hives swarmed and exited the hives around mid-day. At first they gathered in an acacia tree overhanging the hives. After staying there for a while, they moved again flying over the greenhouse and out of Blake Garden. Later in the day they were seen again by a neighbor below the garden. We called our beekeeper Chris Bauer, and he came early on the 18th to inspect the hive that the bees left. He took some closeup shots and made some interesting observations and discoveries. Chris explains:

Bees start swarming at this time of year as a way to expand their numbers. Roughly half the bees from an established colony, including the current queen, will vacate the hive in a swarm and take up temporary residence nearby. That's what you see in the video above as the bees settle in an acacia tree. When scout bees from the swarm locate a suitable hive location, the swarm takes off again to set up permanent residence somewhere much more protected. The other half of the original colony stays where they are with a new queen and continues on exactly as they had been before. When the process is complete the original one colony has become two. 

One of the reasons the hive in the video swarmed is that they had expanded extremely rapidly and filled out all the space in their hive. Every inch of the boxes were stuffed with bees, wax, and honey. I added an empty box to the ones they already had to give them more room to build comb in and fill out. 

The other close up pictures show how bees use the cells of comb for different purposes. The white cells to the left are capped over and contain honey. Adjacent to the honey are cells that hold pollen. Pollen is used as a protein source and combined with honey to feed young bees which is why next to the pollen cells are cells containing young bees. The young bees in these pictures are in a larval stage and look like little curled up grubs. When the young bee larvae reach a certain point of maturity they are sealed into cells to complete their growth into adult bees. The darker sealed cells on the right of these pictures hold rows and rows of bees that will emerge by chewing off the wax caps of their own cells and start contributing right away to the life of the hive.

In the Zone

Posted on by Marge dWylde
Filed under: Art In The Garden

The ‘Create with Nature Zone” was created several years ago in collaboration with area artist Zach Pine. People, big or little, can come into the zone and build sculpture out of materials we provide from the garden. Wednesday we found this little boy and his family building this large structure. He explained that he was putting keys in around the base to make the structure more sound. Good idea. It is very sturdy.

Work on Rain Garden & Redwood Steps continues

Posted on by Surprise Highway
Filed under: Water, Design, Build

Work by volunteers and interns continues on two projects in the garden. Soil/road base from the rain garden/french drain project has been dug out and replaced with rocks collected in the garden to capture and slow rain water to flow through into the garden beds on the slope above the lawn.  Meanwhile the displaced road base is sent to the new redwood steps project in the Redwood grove to back fill the new hand hewn redwood stair risers.

The Owl and the Ravens

Posted on by Surprise Highway

I came into the garden on  Tuesday morning before Christmas and  heard a bunch of crows "cawing" loudly behind the greenhouse.  Continuing the morning duties of  unlocking  doors and opening  gates the sound of the crows  was replaced by   "shack, shack, shack",  a flock of Steller's jays in the same location. As  I  wandered out back to see what the ruckus was,  little woodland birds  frantically  flew left and right.  Raven sounds ,"crunk, crunk" replaced the jays.  High on a branch, through the fog, back lit by morning light, I could make out the  silhouette of a great horned owl and two ravens attacking from either side. One raven would peck high and other  low. Then the owl let out a strange sound that resembled simultaneously a hiss and a growl.  It raised its enormous wings and then flew silently away.

Redwood steps project

Posted on by Surprise Highway

Redwood steps on a trail in the redwood grove made possibly in the 70's have rotted and pose a bit of a hazardous trail. Recently three redwoods in the area died of root rot and had to be taken down. The downed trees are being hand hewn by three volunteers in the garden: Peter, Craig and Kristoffer with a draw knife to scrape the bark off  and then hewing square a with Swedish broadaxe. Two of the treads are ready to put in place. They will be drilled and held in place with 1/2" metal re-bar.