This has been a good year for Salamanders in the Garden. We are almost back up to our rainfall average and, since we have started hugelkultur and mulching at Blake, we have uncovered many of them -- especially Arboreal Salamanders (Aneides lugubris) and California Slender Salamanders (Batrochoseps attenuatus).
During one of the big storms this week, one of the 90+ year old stone pines (Pinus pinea) came crashing down blocking the path to the Mediterranean section. Luckily, it fell away from the house -- but it did do considerable damage to some young trees and shrubs just below. Our great crew has started the cleanup and we have been sorting which pieces can be chipped for mulch and which pieces can be used for bio-terracing and hand hewing to make benches and other structures in the garden. Stone pine is dense and good for building. Last year after a strong storm which knocked off a large branch, we harvested enough wood to make 5+ hand-hewn benches . For more on hand hewing see: Hand Hewing at Blake Garden.
"Where's the pink mound?" A garden visitor asked. "The pink mound?" I wasn't sure what she was talking about... Until I walked down the driveway. Flowering quince, Chaenomeles spp. blooms in February then leafs out. Watch out for the wicked thorns.
After another day of work by work-study student, Anastasia and volunteer Keith, the greenhouse interior has become aesthetically richer. They continued to attach bromeliads and orchids to some pruned branches and added found sandstone pavers around the sculptural elements.
tunnel is nearing completion. While two of our volunteers, Peter S. and Peter K., were working, some local kids gave it a try. [media id=17 width=320 height=240]
As an Environmental Earth Science major, I am exploring the interactions between the biosphere, atmosphere and lithosphere, as well as concepts of reuse and sustainability. Composting embodies these ideas well since it promotes the recycling of material in a given area, whether it is human-produced food scraps or leaf litter and other organic material. The success of compost is further determined by the chemical and physical qualities of the compost heap, such as the ability of atmospheric gases to aerate the compost. The fact that these practices are what provide the foundation for human society -- enabling us to produce our food source -- is what makes me interested in working on such projects. -- Jesson Go
Kian, Nolan and Lucas, our EDSET intern students from Albany High School, continue their work on the wetland regrading project. We buried invasive old Acacia baileyiana branches with mud from the newly created wetland and gravel from infill of the creek. This method accomplishes several things; regrading a path area with materials originating on site; reducing the waste stream by reusing the branches as fill; the branches will break down and act as organic matter for conditioning the soil; the clay mud is removed from the wetland providing breeding grounds for the Pacific Chorus Frog; and the gravel is cleared from the channel that is clogging the flow of the creek .
It's Big. Planting a Giant Sequoia completes our full flush of redwoods: the Sequoiadendron giganteum is the most massive tree in the world and can live to be 3000 years old. Danny, one of our work-study students, and Dawn, one of our gardeners, planted the the big tree sequoia in the lower part of the Coast Redwood grove. The Coast Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, is the tallest tree in the world. Our grove was planted by the Blakes in the early 1920s. Some of the Coast Redwoods came from their former residence in the area that is now the site of the stadium on the U.C. Campus. Below the new big tree redwoods are three Dawn Redwoods, the Metasequoia gliptrostroboides. The Dawn Redwood is native to China and was thought to be extinct for millions of years; they are deciduous and were planted sometime between 1922 and 1959. This new Giant Sequoia was graciously donated to the garden by a neighbor.
Olive trees, Olea europaea, originally from the Mediterranean do well in our climate. We recently planted two in the hollow overlooking the bay. These are Mission Olives, and have been propagated from trees from the one of the Spanish missions here in California. These 2 trees were given to the garden by one of our volunteers.
In order to direct water from our dirt road and into the creek, Jesse, one of our work-study students, is continuing a big project that was started last semester by work-study student Nathan. On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, you will find Jesse working on a swale lined with Glauconite schist, a blue-green metamorphic stone that is found on the property.