The construction continues as we are putting in a handicap accessible pathway from the Event lawn area to the new handicap accessible bathroom that was put in a few months ago. Construction should be complete within the next couple of weeks.
Blake Garden received a beautiful ash and steel bench made by students from the Introduction to Materials and Construction Class taught by Professor Linda Jewell and Ray Freeman.
We applied for a grant through UC Berkeley’s sponsored TGIF (The Green Initiative Fund) Program and received funding to build a new compost area that would enable us to use the front loader to turn the compost piles rather that physically turning them by hand. The staff members at Blake decided on a site location and design. Student interns and volunteers helped with the construction under the guidance of Mike Frappier, our staff stone work expert. This project has enabled Blake Garden to: dramatically reduce green waste, recycle material on site, increase efficiency of compost production, reduce risk of repetitive stress injury, eliminate $3000 in green dumpster fees, and save more than 250 hours of labor. All of the grant project posters will be displayed on Earth day at the 10th Annual Sustainable Summit hosted by the Chancellors Advisory Committee on Sustainability (CACS) April 22 2:00-3:00 at UC Berkeley Campus in Sutardja Dia Hall with other events ongoing until 5:00. Public is welcome!
The Unseen Landscape: an installation project is done by undergraduates in the Landscape Architecture Design 101 class taught by Daphne Edwards. The students were to choose a site in the garden and design an intervention/installation to highlight a landscape feature or quality. The project is up in the garden until Friday , October 12. boards and models will be in the greenhouse to view after Wednesday, Oct. 10th.
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.
Phase one of the creek restoration project has started. We are covering the steep banks with jute mesh and securing it with redwood branches and stone pine stakes: debris recycled/reused from the garden. This process will help with erosion control. Next we will be planting riparian plant species on the hillside. The concept is that when these water loving species drop their roots into the ground they will hold the soil on the bank while simultaneously natural materials will rot.
The demolishing of the deteriorating parking structure, left us with lots of concrete material for use on future projects such as the creek restoration project. We are in the process of designing the creek project project and needed to store the bulky material. This was a creative solution to store the concrete chunks and make it ready for the project.
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.
One of the formal gardens, the square pool garden, is getting renovated with new low-water irrigation netafim drip system, and replanted with some new plants that are more drought tolerant. This is a part of our ongoing effort for the whole garden to be more water wise and reduce the amount of water use in the garden.
Local Kensington Photographer Geoffery Agrons has shared some of his beautiful photos of this Fall's Revealing the Landscape Project.