Students from the embARC summer program, a program for high school students who are interested in college for architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning were here last week with their families for graduation and an exhibition of bird nest boxes they have designed and built on campus during the program. Some will be installed at Blake to support our birdlife.
We have been collecting rainwater from the roof into a small cistern. After 1/3 of an inch of rain, the water over flows down a bamboo aquaduct into the greenhouse to water the few remaining plants. Not watering tropical plants in the green house has been one of the strategies for saving water during the drought. The water collected is also used in the nursery out behind the greenhouse. We have done many things to conserve water: installing low flow toilets and metered faucets in our bathrooms; capturing grey water from the kitchen sink and using it to water beds in front of the greenhouse; installing new low flow irrigation systems through out the garden; building the soil and its water holding capicity by mulching and composting most garden beds; reducing the size of our large event lawn; capturing water flowing from a underground spring and using it in areas where we have no irrigation; reducing overgrowth and weeding out the undergrowth; and replacing thirsty plants with drought tolerant plants and native California plants. Many of our pools are low and grassy areas are brown as we wait for fall rain. According to East Bay Municipal Utlities District current report we are now using 45% of the water allocated to us.
Many thanks to local photographer Geoffrey Agrons who visited the garden recently and photographed the aqueduct in action. Three of these photographs or "melancholigraphs" from his "California Drought Series" are featured in this post. Over the years Geoffery has also photographed the LEAP student's intervention projects at Blake. You can enjoy the photographs here.