(In)Land 2014: Revealing the Landscape

July 17th, 2014

(In)Land Project

(In)Land students from U.C.Berkeley Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning Summer Program  came to the garden to work on a project entitled “Revealing the Landscape”. Students paired up and chose a site in the garden that interested them and created a temporary installation with simple materials. They gave a brief presentation to a review team of professionals (landscape teachers, landscape architects and architects, and artists) with drawings and photographs along with models of their ideas, processes and finished installations.


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Garden Details

July 11th, 2014

Geoffery Agrons, a local photographer, always finds something of interest to photograph in our garden.

Flipping Compost

June 23rd, 2014

In order in to keep our compost piles productive we add oxygen by turning and water by hosing it down to keep the piles as wet as a wrung-out sponge.  While turning we can observe what decomposers are present: red worms, sow bugs, roly poly bugs (both are actually crustaceans) ants, centipedes, millipedes. We also look for signs of beneficial bacteria & fungus which are microscopic, but they do leave evidence of white skeletal patches. All these creatures eat or absorb the organic matter we have added to the piles (leaves, branches, garden waste) and turn it into fabulous compost. Why is compost good for the garden? We process a lot of garden waste with this system  so it doesnt have to be hauled off to the landfill, compost is organic matter and holds water in the soil, and it adds humus, a kind of glue that holds soil particles together. It also adds beneficial fungus and beneficial bacteria that break down the soil releasing nutrients that are needed by plants and protect the roots of plants from non-benificials. We have sped up the video to illustrate the pattern of turning and watering the piles . The result is three piles: one we add “greens & browns” to on a daily basis, a second pile that is composting (we only need to turn and water it once in awhile)  and a third pile that we are currently harvesting through a screening system.

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Planting and Fencework continues in wetland

May 30th, 2014

Our managed wetland has been weeded and pruned by one of our Albany High School EDSET (Environmental Design Science Engineering and Technology) student interns.  Staff, volunteers and EDSET interns  have been replacing the decomposing acacia fence  with a split bamboo railing to keep foot traffic off newly planted upland native grasses. along with bee and butterfly plants.  We also  planted  some water loving willows and a new tree, Box Elder, Acer negundo to provide more diversity for the habitat. Pacific chorus frog tadpoles were spotted in the shallow pool.


Crestmont Kinders Tweet at Blake

May 30th, 2014

Crestmont kindergarten students came to the garden recently to study birds and bird habitat. We started off by observing the robins looking for worms in the irrigated lawn. Next we learned how to use binoculars by first trying to site the bird then pulling up a handmade binoculars( two taped card board rolls) up to our eyes. Next we tried the real set of binoculars. We toured the garden listening to bird song, looking at different bird habitats and seeing if we could spot the male and female mallard that have taken up residence in our ponds. After a snack we looked at bird nests found in the garden and then worked collaboratively on our own nest in the Create with Nature zone. 

LAEP Awards Ceremony at Blake

May 19th, 2014

The garden’s yearly event, the Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Department’s Awards Ceremony, happened this weekend. About 250 students, faculty, staff, friends and relatives attended the event. The weather was beautiful and the garden was in full bloom and looked fantastic for the event.

CRS Graduation at Blake

May 19th, 2014

The U.C. Berkeley Conservation Resource Sciences Department holds it’s alternative graduation celebration in the garden every year. We had another succesful event with cooperating weather and great views of the Golden Gate Bridge within a beautiful flowering garden.

New fence around wetland started

May 19th, 2014

The wetland restoration project has been ongoing for several years. This semester one of our Albany High School interns, Suzanne slipped on a pair of rubber boots, went into the muddy water and eradicated invasive species, and trimmed the tule and the cattails in our small  managed wetland. We have been and replacing the invasive species with riparian California natives. The area is expanding into a surrounding upland native species area as well. In order to protect the area until it gets fully established we have been fencing it off with materials from the garden. At first we used branches from coppiced Acacia dealbata trees from the hillside. After several years they have become brittle and have fallen apart.  We are replacing them with bamboo, Phyllostachys bambusoides, timber bamboo that has gone to seed in our and our next door neighbor’s garden. With help from our 5 Albany High School EDSET (Environmental Design, Science Engineering and Technology) Interns we have put in the posts around the area. Next we will  fabricate and  install cross pieces to close off the area.

Girl Scouts help out with composting

May 19th, 2014

A Girl Scout group from Kensington came to the garden to learn about composting. We put them to work by piling browns (leaves)and greens (weeds) onto one pile and adding water.  Other scouts shoveled  decomposed compost from another pile onto a screen.  After sifting through 1/2 inch and then 1/4 inch screens the result is rich dark brown compost that smells like the rain forest. Through the process the girls discovered many of the decomposers doing their job in the piles. Red worms, sow bugs, springtails, benificial bacteria and fungi are what we saw or saw evidence of. In an hour we made a  wheelbarrow of compost to add to the garden.

Fasciated Echium by front gate

May 12th, 2014

Strange folding forms appeared growing by the front gate. The fasciated plant is Echium candicans or commonly known as “Pride of Madiera”. Fasciation describes the way a plant grows in unusual or ribbon like forms. And it  can happen to different parts of a plant, the root, stem or flower of many different species of plants and can be caused by bacteria, fungus, genetics, environmental, or insects. Some plants such as Celosia or cockscomb are actual grown with this defect to create  an unusual “flower”  that resembles  the top of the head of a male chicken.