Friends of Five Creeks Weed Warriors returned to Blake Garden to continue with the eradication of blackberries, Algerian ivy and other invasive species that threaten to take over our beautiful redwood trees. Some interesting finds in the dry creek and surrounding area- several tennis balls & a partial dried out carcass of a gopher.
Approximately 20 area students from the Leaf Academy came to the garden to help us mulch around the creek where we have been working on eradicating invasive ivy and black berries. The mulch is from a Monterey pine tree that fell recently in the parking lot. We had the small branches chipped up and piled. The mulch will help to prevent weeds from growing, increase the organic matter in the soil and hold in water from evaporating from the bare soil. The students also worked on sculptures with Zach Pine in the Create-With-Nature-Zone.
Our 20ft waterfall on the south side of the garden is part of a tributary to Cerrito creek. Over the past several years, the 1970's era creek restoration project has been worn by the drilling forces of the winter rains. The water comes into the garden with such force that it channelizes, undercuts and washes out areas of the creek. This year we had no choice but to fix the waterfall in fear that it would collapse if we got a big rainstorm. Freshmen from St Mary's High School along with their teacher Jeff assisted staff and Blake Garden volunteers to re-stack the base of the waterfall with 80 lb. bags of concrete. Some students ziplined bags of concrete to others waiting below, who stacked and spiked it into place with steel rebar. Above the waterfall, others were taking out excess gravel that had washed down from above, and moved it to regrade the path of the nearby wetland and new grassland. Weeds from the creek bed were added to compost piles that will be used in the future to boost the soil quality of new planting beds for native grasses. Our two EDSET interns, Karl and Michala, from Albany High School assisted with the project. [nggallery id=183]
Once again the Weed Warriors, a dedicated group from Friends of Five Creeks returned to continue our efforts on weed eradication along the south creek. Himalayan blackberries, Algerian ivy and mayten trees have encroached the area and threatened the redwoods planted there by Mrs. Blake probably in the 1920's. Over the past five years the weed Warriors along with a few other groups have made the creek accessible and aided in restoration planning.
We continue to develop the wetland and the hillside above. The hillside was planted with Acacia baileyana to prevent erosion. Because it is invasive if allowed to flower and go to seed, we decided to shrub it and replace it gradually with native grasses and succulents that are also good for erosion control. By cutting it back hard periodically it provided us with some interesting material to replace an aging bamboo and twine fence that we put around the perimeter of the wetland to protect newly planted native wetland species. Volunteers and students stripped the acacia branches, developed some mock ups for the fence design and are installing the the branches around the wetland. The branches are tied together with bark stripped from the branches and then soaked in water to become more pliable. This is another example of regenerative design that we use in the garden.
The Friends of Five Creeks Weed Warriors continue to eradicate two of the creek's most invasive species from the south creek: Himalayan blackberries and Algerian ivy. On this visit, they brought along a group of Japanese students who are visiting from Kyoto. The students are attending a class to learn the English language through environmental restoration. They are learning interesting words such as invasive species, eradication, erosion, and urban runoff.
We have been fighting back the blackberries, poison oak , Algerian ivy along with other invasive species in back of the headhouse. Now that we have a control of the area we have decided to transplant some black bamboo, Phyllostachys nigra, from below in the Australian hollow to enhance the view from the windows of the head house. We have been watering that area with gray water from the kitchen area sink and are considering rerouting the drain water directly into the planting bed.
Yesterday the Weed Warriors from Friends of Five Creeks returned to Blake Garden. They have been visiting the garden for 3 years, doing excellent work eradicating thornless blackberry and other invasives, along the upper part of the south creek. Weed Warriors! Many thanks for all your help.
The EDSET crew (Education in Design, Science Environmental Technology) from Albany High School are sheet mulching with our huge supply of stone pine mulch. (See posts of stone pine removal) We first cut the unwanted grasses & weeds to the ground, then covered over the site with rolls of cardboard that were pinned in place. Three to four inches of mulch was added on top. This process is used to smother the weedy species with the cardboard & mulch. Over time these will rot and add nutrients to the soil. In the future, holes will be cut into the cardboard and riparian species of plants will be planted into the ground by the creek.
Last week Betty Buginas' 4th grade class from Hilltop School, came to the garden to volunteer for service work and learn about our creek, a tributary of Cerrito creek. As one group eradicated invasive blackberry roots, the other groups were picking up trash from the creek channel, and re-grading the soil that had washed in and clogged the channel.