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Author Archives: Surprise Highway

LAEP Awards Ceremony at Blake

Posted on by Surprise Highway
Filed under: Education

The garden's yearly event, the Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Department's Awards Ceremony, happened this weekend. About 250 students, faculty, staff, friends and relatives attended the event. The weather was beautiful and the garden was in full bloom and looked fantastic for the event.



CRS Graduation at Blake

Posted on by Surprise Highway
Filed under: Education

The U.C. Berkeley Conservation Resource Sciences Department holds it's alternative graduation celebration in the garden every year. We had another succesful event with cooperating weather and great views of the Golden Gate Bridge within a beautiful flowering garden.



New fence around wetland started

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

The wetland restoration project has been ongoing for several years. This semester one of our Albany High School interns, Suzanne slipped on a pair of rubber boots, went into the muddy water and eradicated invasive species, and trimmed the tule and the cattails in our small  managed wetland. We have been and replacing the invasive species with riparian California natives. The area is expanding into a surrounding upland native species area as well. In order to protect the area until it gets fully established we have been fencing it off with materials from the garden. At first we used branches from coppiced Acacia dealbata trees from the hillside. After several years they have become brittle and have fallen apart.  We are replacing them with bamboo, Phyllostachys bambusoides, timber bamboo that has gone to seed in our and our next door neighbor's garden. With help from our 5 Albany High School EDSET (Environmental Design, Science Engineering and Technology) Interns we have put in the posts around the area. Next we will  fabricate and  install cross pieces to close off the area.



Girl Scouts help out with composting

Posted on by Surprise Highway
Filed under: Community

A Girl Scout group from Kensington came to the garden to learn about composting. We put them to work by piling browns (leaves)and greens (weeds) onto one pile and adding water.  Other scouts shoveled  decomposed compost from another pile onto a screen.  After sifting through 1/2 inch and then 1/4 inch screens the result is rich dark brown compost that smells like the rain forest. Through the process the girls discovered many of the decomposers doing their job in the piles. Red worms, sow bugs, springtails, benificial bacteria and fungi are what we saw or saw evidence of. In an hour we made a  wheelbarrow of compost to add to the garden.



Fasciated Echium by front gate

Posted on by Surprise Highway
Filed under: Flora & Fauna

Strange folding forms appeared growing by the front gate. The fasciated plant is Echium candicans or commonly known as "Pride of Madiera". Fasciation describes the way a plant grows in unusual or ribbon like forms. And it  can happen to different parts of a plant, the root, stem or flower of many different species of plants and can be caused by bacteria, fungus, genetics, environmental, or insects. Some plants such as Celosia or cockscomb are actual grown with this defect to create  an unusual "flower"  that resembles  the top of the head of a male chicken. 



Retirement Party for Joe McBride

Posted on by Surprise Highway
Filed under: Education

It was a perfect California spring day when speeches were given, songs were sung and messages were written in celebration of the retirement of Professor Joe McBride who has been teaching in the U.C. Berkeley Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning department for many years.



3 New Hives

Posted on by Surprise Highway
Filed under: Flora & Fauna

Three new bee hives were installed in the garden by bee keeper Chris Bauer.



Recent Photographs at Blake

Posted on by Surprise Highway
Filed under: Art In The Garden

Photographer Geoffrey Agrons has been taking photographs here in the garden for over a year . Here are a few more that he took recently.



ADA path project nearly complete

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

We are now finishing the last details of the ADA path  project. We decided to keep the trail that cuts off the ADA Path toward the headhouse. A sloped trail through beds of succulents on the sunny side and ferns under the oak is connected to the concrete construction with a fan shaped redwood set of steps designed and built by staff, volunteers and students. 



Stonework below Redwood Grove

Posted on by Surprise Highway
Filed under: Design, Build

The steep path has been altered to go around the outcropping of illite rock just below the redwood grove. Mike, one of our staff has designed and built the path made from concrete pieces reclaimed from the disassembled  parking structure near the house.