Category Archives: Restoration

Temporary concrete rubble wall

Posted on by Surprise Highway

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.

Transplanting Bamboo behind Headhouse

Posted on by Surprise Highway

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.

Formal Garden renovation in progress

Posted on by Surprise Highway

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.

EDSET students work on HUGELKULTUR project

Posted on by Surprise Highway

Last Friday our Albany High School EDSET interns Jamie, Xian and Sareena worked beside the new wetland putting in a new field of native grass, Elymus glaucus. They planted on top of  a hugelkultur (or "wild compost") bed that is made of rotting wood cut from the area several years ago, composted weeds and grasses and soil and silt from the wetland.

parking structure down

Posted on by Surprise Highway

The parking structure built in the 1970's for additional parking and as a turn around was taken down today.  It was slowly collapsing over the past few months.  We relocated our bees that had been housed on the site to a new site on the east side of the creek near the greenhouse.  Removing the structure  opens up new views into the hollow below and also opens many  possibilities, and we look forward  to exploring new ideas for the space.

Revisiting the Wetland

Posted on by Surprise Highway

U.C. undergraduate students from William Berry's 2010 ES 125 class, Bay Area Landscapes, returned to the garden a year later to check on the planting they had done in the wetland as a hands on experiential learning project.  It's a success, with most all of the plants surviving,  the invasive species reduced and tadpoles swimming amongst the bulrushes and cattails planted  in the pool.

New Formal Garden Planting

Posted on by Surprise Highway

We are restoring one of the planting beds in front of the house. Over time perennial plants & shrubs have died out and other plants from the garden (self-starters) with the help of birds,etc had moved in. It is time for an update and a chance to recharge the soil with nutrients. Dawn Kooyumjian, one of our staff gardeners led the  group with a new design and newly purchased plants from the nursery. But first we removed all the plants to loosen the soil and remove old roots, etc. Then we mixed our own compost that we make on site from garden debris with a manure charged amendment, and added this mixture to the reworked beds. Next, the plants were laid out according to the planting design sketch. The plants were then planted by our crew of workstudy students & volunteers and watered in.

Sheet mulching

Posted on by Surprise Highway

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.

Creek Restoration Update

Posted on by Surprise Highway
Filed under: Education, Restoration

Two of the UC Berkeley Rivers & Creek students, Catherine Sheridan and Karuna Greenberg came to the garden to go over the master plan for restoration for the upper part of the tributary of Cerrito creek that runs through the Blake Garden. We are ready to move forward to meet with the people from campus to go over the plan and start the  restoration work. Download the master plan PDF (4.5mb): blake_creek_paper_LA227.pdf 

Creek during recent rain

Posted on by Surprise Highway
Filed under: Water, Restoration, Video
Video shot on Thursday March, 24 2011: Urban Runoff from Rincon Road entering into Blake Garden: [media id=22 width=480 height=360] Inside fence from Rincon Road: [media id=20 width=480 height=360] Standing just west of  headcut just inside fence: [media id=19 width=480 height=360] Culvert pipe by tool shed with new retaining wall: [media id=26 width=480 height=360] From the upper water drop: [media id=25 width=480 height=360] View of both falls: [media id=23 width=480 height=360] The bear trap at Highgate Road: [media id=24 width=480 height=360]