9: Spring projects

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June 25, 2014 by missionazul

Spring is busting out the seams.  Master Gus Broucaret and I taught the tree care class.  Its focus was for students to gain practical experience in the pruning, planting, care, and removal of trees.  This was balanced by the academic aspect of learning about tree structure and physiology, and standing in awe of magnificent creatures.  We journeyed forth with the help of the International Society of Arboriculture text as our guide.  

Yes, this is a skill seldom practiced by most tree workers in town settings (except for take downs) – climbing with spurs.  Little holes jabbed in the wood hurt the trees in the long term.  But, it is a good exercise in ropes and harnesses, and it grants a renewed perspective on the world.  This is Ben Strobridge of San Francisco Landscapes hollering from on high:

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Then Celia Sisneros went up, again.

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I am happy to report that Master Chris Fong, who has done apprentices with Indian gurus, Chinese medicine men, and African drum royalty, is now apprenticing with the trees.  Contain your exuberance!

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Pruning trees is an art best learned hands on.  It is easy to chop and drop limbs.  Not so easy to develop an eye for form and structure, and make good decisions hanging from 30 feet up.  Our best climbers this semester were two ladies, shown here on a plant ID tree, Eucalyptus nicholii.  They are pruning away the dead wood facing the onshore winds that come from the west.  Thank you Michele Palmer of Friends of the Urban Forest and Celia Sisneros of Broucaret Landscaping.

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A dedicated gardener has arisen in the mini farm, and helped its transition from a weedy subsistence plot into a showy work of floral art.  Patricia Filingame (formerly of the Zen Center and Free Farm) has been putting in many hours aside the bindweed, sow bugs, and lettuce.  A big hand of applause for well turned and aged compost!

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Another hurrah for well maintained drip irrigation lines, fava beans, and culinary herb beds:

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And this is what the weedy potato that keeps creeping up everywhere looks like without its skin.  You are going in the frying pan buddy!

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The general maintenance class taught by Gus Broucaret and myself meets Tuesdays.  We mow the lawn and talk two cycle or four cycle, rotary or reel, gas or electric.

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Then we plant a bed of perennials, and weed, and weed, and weed some more.  The topic of conversation shifts to the merits of bone meal, stratification of tulips, and naturalization of daffodils.

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Can’t forget tool ID.  When do you use a scoop shovel?  What is a good spare part to keep in your wallet for a water hose?

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The formal garden.  This is the spot for our hedging practice and for selecting useful ground covers.  Thyme and Dymondia, two thumbs up!  The water features and concrete work you learn in the saturday construction class.

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In the saturday class they balance their knowledge of nuts and screws, metric and US standard with department projects.  Looking about, it is easy to spot Master Robert Broucaret and his students’ handiwork:

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Replace the old, in with the new!  Beds for veggies.  Forms and rebar, plumb and level.  The basics that you can apply anywhere!

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This spring a pair of phoebes raised their young beneath the overhang of our building.  They were there to greet us in the mornings as we went about, and were hunting for dragonflies on the wing while we wrestled with geraniums in piles.

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Last but not least, our design class went on a field trip to San Bruno Mountain.  San Bruno Mountain!!!  San Bruno Mountain!!  Yup, ten minutes away, the best place in the world.  One student, an artist – Rose Byers – had a particularly acute eye for details and good feeling for design spaces.  Although she was new to the world of plants, biology, and horticulture, she managed to spot this tiny creature sitting on the stonecrop Sedum spathulifolium.  An endangered species.  A larva being tended for protein and sugar secretions by an ant.  Shhhhhhhhhhhh…….. The San Bruno Elfin!  Epic!

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Make the garden your sanctuary.  Work with all your force, and enjoy the beauty that is our world.

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