Again this year Blake Garden participated in the Bay Area SODblitz (Sudden Oak Death blitz) survey. Since the SOD oomycete pathogen Phytophthora ramorum spreads most often on infected California bay laurel leaves we collected leaves from 5 different bay trees in the garden. 4-5 leaves from each tree were placed in envelopes with GPS locations for the trees. The envelopes were dropped off at Mulford Hall on the UCB campus where they will be tested for the pathogen at the Forest Pathology and Mycology Laboratory. Results will be known next fall. Last year (2011) the same 5 bay trees were also tested. Thankfully the results turned up negative for the SOD pathogen. We are hopeful that the results will be the same for 2012, but we are very mindful that other locations around the Bay Area have not fared as well as Blake Garden. For more information on SOD and the SODblitz visit: http://nature.berkeley.edu/garbelotto/english/sodblitz.php
One of our old trees, Alnus cordata, an Italian alder, just below the redwood grove fell over in the latest storm. Campus arborists came out and helped us remove it from the path. Woodworkers, bowl turners and furniture makers interested in the beautiful orange wood and helped us clean up the area and took some of the wood to create with.
The San Francisco Garden Club asked Garden manager, Lauri Twitchell and another former Master of Landscape Architecture Grad, Holly Selvig to represent them in the annual Bouquets to Art Event at the de Young museum. We chose five pieces within the museums collection to respond to in flowers. We got "Rubbing from the Ball Court", an image from a granite wall from Chichen Itza depicting a soccer like game where the loser loses his head at the end of the match. Green, Purple & Red foliage was collected from the garden. It is early in the season so the red lilies, red roses and red rununculus were purchased. The vase was carved granite. Gallery statement: Our floral piece is inspired by the materiality of the event represented in the "Rubbing from the Ball Court". The stylized nature of the stone carving tempers the extreme drama of the event: the beheading of the loser of the ball game. We tried to capture that drama in color, form, and material, and at the same time, also honor the brutal cultural tradition.
The Berkeley Circus & Soiree consisted of a day of CED students showcasing their work to professionals in the field followed by a gala celebration at the de Young Museum. The garden was asked to create some flower arrangements. We gathered vases from second hand stores and originally thought that what we mostly would be using was an interesting variety of greens and a few flowers blooming from the garden. (Maybe we would even have to go out and buy some!!) But to our surprise and delight we collected many beautiful flowers from the garden and ended up making some very exuberant floral arrangements for the gala held at the museum in San Francisco.
It is the end of February and spring is here at Blake Garden. The Magnolias are in mid bloom. Some of the early bloomers are just finishing. M. cylindrica and M. campbellii, native to China were the first to bloom. The beautiful M. x soulangeana is now coming into full bloom. This garden favorite was developed in 1826 by French plantsman and an officer in Napoleon’s army, Etienne Soulange Bodin. To create M. x soulangeana he crossed M. denudate and M. liliiflora. Now over 100 cultivars are known in the trade. So, if you want to buy one of these Tulip Tree cultivars, now is a good time to look in nurseries around here for the color and bloom size you would like to have. In full bloom is M. kobus. It is also known in the trade as M. kobus var. stellata. The common name is Star Magnolia. This small tree is native to Japan. M. dawsoniana, a native of China, is also in full bloom. M. ‘Milky Way’ is just starting to bloom. This is a small tree (14’-18’)with a big flower (up to 7 inches). It was developed by Felix Jury from New Zealand in 1960 from a cross between M. soulangeana ‘Lennei Alba’ and M. s. ‘Mark Jury’ (another magnolia Felix developed and is named after his son). Coming into bloom sometime soon is my favorite bush magnolia, M. liliiflora with its burgundy upright, vase shaped flowers. Also in bud is M. ‘Elizabeth’ with pale yellow flowers. This magnolia is cross from Magnolia acuminate x M. denudate made by Evamarie Sperber and named in honor of Elizabeth Scholz, director of Brooklyn Botanic Garden, in 1978. The genus Magnolia is one of the most ancient of the angiosperms with fossils going back over 60 million years to the Tertiary Period. One of its pollinators, a beetle in the Nitidulidae family was also common in Tertiary Times. -- Janet De Haven, Blake Garden Gardener
Here are a few things sited in the garden recently.
Chris Bauer, Blake Garden bee keeper installed a new swarm of bees to the new location. Soon we will moving the our other hives over to the new site.
Blake Garden gardener Dawn Kooyumjian discovered something very unusual in the formal section of the garden. The honeybees had blue pollen stuck to the sides of their legs. On further investigation it was discovered that the bees were collecting pollen from the California native, Gilia capitata, blue thimble flower.
Last week a swarm of bees congregated outside the greenhouse office. We called our beekeeper, Chris Bauer to inform him of the hive that was forming in a small tree near our door. Geared up, Chris cut the bee covered old branch and dropped the bees into a box. We moved the bees to their new location on the east side of the creek.
The old location we have for the bees is collapsing. We are building a new site with the work of staff, volunteers, and the EDSET student interns from Albany high school on the east side of the creek. An area was cleared of invasive blackberries, concrete pavers were set in the ground for a platform for the bee boxes, a small bridge was built for the beekeeper Chris Bauer to access the hives. And steps made from the stone pine that came down recently were set into the slope.