Redwood steps project
Redwood steps on a trail in the redwood grove made possibly in the 70's have rotted and pose a bit of a hazardous trail. Recently three redwoods in the area died of root rot and had to be taken down. The downed trees are being hand hewn by three volunteers in the garden: Peter, Craig and Kristoffer with a draw knife to scrape the bark off and then hewing square a with Swedish broadaxe. Two of the treads are ready to put in place. They will be drilled and held in place with 1/2" metal re-bar.
After years of rusting, our wheelbarrows were repaired by the architecture shop at the College of Environmental Design saving us from having to replace them.
Leaf Academy visits Blake
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.
heavy rain impacts Blake Garden
Within the last few days we have gotten over 5 inches of rain. A tributary of Cerrito creek runs through the garden and is impacted by urban runoff. The video is of water blasting through the garden after a big down pour on Sunday morning. We recently repaired the base of the waterfall with volunteers from St. Mary's High School along with our staff, volunteers and EDSET interns from Albany High school. The repair seems to be holding up and was done just in the nick of time.
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]
Weed Warriors visit Blake
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.
Acacia fence Part 1
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.
Weed Warriors visit Blake
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.
Creek Restoration Phase 1 completed
Phase 1 of the tributary of Cerrito Creek restoration project is completed. We started by repairing the culvert that runs under the road and rebuilding the support with broken concrete pieces from a volunteers patio. Invasive species of blackberries and Algerian ivy have been eradicated from the banks. The banks of the channel have been reinforced against erosion by terracing with redwood branches from the garden and secured into the ground by posts of hand hewn redwood & stone pine. Erosion netting has been placed over the soil, and several red twig dogwoods have been planted into the banks; they will eventually hold the soil as the roots spread. Mulch was added as the final layer to prevent run off from eroding the bare surface soil and slow the weed growth.
Creek Restoration Phase 1
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.