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Friends of the Regional Parks Botanic Garden
REGIONAL PARKS BOTANIC GARDEN
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The garden is located at the intersection of Wildcat Canyon Road and South Park Drive in Tilden Regional Park near Berkeley, CA

 

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JULY 2015
Newsletter
 

Happy 75th Birthday, Regional Parks Botanic Garden!
 

This year, the Regional Parks Botanic Garden turns 75! We’re celebrating in several ways: with the special issue of our Manzanita newsletter, two parties (find information about the parties at the end of this newsletter), and a brief history of the garden in words and images in this newsletter. We invite you to celebrate your own connection to this special garden, and we hope you will join us at our anniversary events.


 

The First 75 Years
 

by Sue Rosenthal

In the beginning, there was a ranch in Wildcat Canyon with a creek running through its grassland habitat.

beginning
Southeast-facing view of the future Botanic Garden site and the head of Wildcat Creek in 1901.

 

With encouragement from Mills College botany professor Howard McMinn, the East Bay Regional Park District’s Board of Directors voted to create Northern California’s only public garden devoted exclusively to California native plants—the Regional Parks Botanic Garden—in the heart of that canyon along Wildcat Creek.  The Park District hired James B. (Jim) Roof to be the garden’s first director, and on January 1, 1940, Roof set to work planting the garden with native trees, shrubs, and perennials he had collected and nurtured in a U.S. Forest Service nursery in Berkeley.


Garden of the Channel Islands Plants, Nov. 1941.

Ferndale section by the creek, Nov. 1941. Note the mature (preexisting) willow, bay, and oak trees.

 

Roof continued as director for the next 36 years. In addition to developing the garden’s beautiful landscape of native plants, he also built (with the garden crew) many of the buildings still in use in the garden today.


James Roof supervising construction of the Juniper Lodge in the Sierra Nevada section, ca. 1947.

 


Juniper Lodge in 1990, after a redesign.

Unbeknownst to EBRPD management, Roof started to build a Visitor Center for the garden in 1963 using an unorthodox, foundationless building design. Before the building was completed, Park District management learned of the project and razed the unsafe building. Ten years later, the Park District built the garden’s current Visitor Center.


Original Visitor Center under construction by Jim Roof and garden staff, 1963.
 

 


Current Visitor Center with Matilija poppy display, July 1980.
Through the years, the garden grew and developed under the guidance of its founding director Jim Roof, followed by Wayne Roderick (director from 1976 to 1983), Steve Edwards (director from 1983 to 2013), and now Bart O’Brien. Each director, along with the staff, has made unique and important contributions to the garden, furthering its mission of creating beautiful landscapes displaying California's diverse plant life. That mission embraces not only aesthetics, but also native plant conservation, public education, and horticultural experimentation designed to bring new native plants into the nursery trade.


Founding garden director Jim Roof with the original garden sign, 1950


Garden director Steve Edwards, 1990.


Garden director Wayne Roderick, late 1970s.


Current garden director Bart O’Brien leading a tour for CNPS members, March 2015.

 

The garden has also benefitted from the contributions of hundreds of volunteers working in many different capacities: assisting the gardeners; collecting and packaging seed for sale to the public; serving on the garden’s Friends board to raise funds for and otherwise support the garden; propagating plants for the garden’s biannual plant sale; and leading tours for students, adult groups, and weekend visitors.

Volunteers started the garden’s plant sale in 1979 after funding cuts mandated by Proposition 13 forced the garden to charge admission. The docent program, started at the suggestion of Dr. Glenn Keator in 1995, now includes more than 50 active volunteers who have led tours for thousands of visitors.


The garden’s first plant sale, April 1979.

Docent leading an elementary school tour, 2002.

 

Over the years, the garden has thrived, grown, and changed, with a few crazy mishaps and wild weather days along the way.


The driver of this VW bug lost control on Wildcat Canyon Road and crashed through the garden’s  fence (no one was hurt), coming to rest in the Channel Island section, Nov. 1978.

 


Snow in the garden outside the Juniper Lodge, March 1975.

 

The garden continues to change and grow—and grow more beautiful–each year.  The most recent change is the creation of three new rock gardens in the Southern California section and expansion of the garden’s collection to include plants from the California Floristic Province portion of Baja California, Mexico.


Interpretive student aide Kate Ferroggiaro and gardener Don Fuller admiring plants from northern Baja California in the new rock garden adjacent to the Visitor Center, 2015.

 

With its dedicated staff and volunteers combined with  the support of its Friends organization and many fans and admirers, the garden is sure to have a future that’s as promising and exciting as its past.


The garden staff in 2014
L to R, Seated: recently retired gardener Cat Daffer, gardener Liz Bittner; Standing: garden director Bart O’Brien, gardeners Don Fuller and Michael Uhler, interpretive student aide (ISA) Ashika Narayan, senior office assistant Teresa LeYung-Ryan, former ISA Juliet Hannafin, garden supervisor Joe Dahl. (Photo by Teresa LeYung-Ryan)
 
   

YOU’RE INVITED!
Two Celebrations of the Regional Parks Botanic Garden’s 75th Anniversary
 

JULY 22 AT THE BRAZILIAN ROOM,
TILDEN REGIONAL PARK
6-10 PM

 

 
To reserve a space, visit http://www.nativeplants.org/anniversary, print and fill out the reply form, and send it with your check payable to the Regional Parks Foundation to:
 
Regional Parks Botanic Garden
c/o East Bay Regional Park District
PO Box 5381
Oakland, CA 94605-0381

RSVPs are due in our office by July 8.
 
 


AUGUST 29
, AT THE
REGIONAL PARKS BOTANIC GARDEN

10:30 am - 5:30 pm

Birthday cake
Tours and activities
Free and open to all
 

Upcoming Classes
A click here will take you to a full description of the class as well as the class registration form
Saturday, August 1, 9:30 am–3:30 pm
Weave a Paiute-Style Water Bottle Space Available
Saturday, August 15, 9:30 am–3:30 pm Drawing Plants Space Available
Saturday, August 22, 10 am–3 pm Ferns of California Space Available
Sunday, August 23, 10 am–3 pm Inviting California to Dinner: Using Native Plants in Your Everyday Diet Space Available
Thursdays, September 10 and 17, 9:30 am–12 pm Designing a Native Garden Space Available
3 Saturdays, 10 am–3 pm: September 26, October 17, November 7 Trees and Shrubs of the Bay Area Space Available
Sunday, September 27, 10 am–6 pm Botany and Ecology of the Delta Space Available
October 9 through 12 Fall in the Siskiyou Mountains of Northwestern California Space Available
Saturday, October 24, 9 am–12 pm Seed Propagation of California Native Plants Space Available
Illustration/Photo Credits
©Source: The Berkeley Hills: A Detail of Coast Range Geology. Andrew C. Lawson and Charles Palache. Bulletin of the Department of Geology, University of California Press, 1902 Southeast-facing view of the future Botanic Garden site and the head of Wildcat Creek in 1901.
©A.E. Wieslander Garden of the Channel Islands Plants, Nov. 1941 & Ferndale section by the creek, Nov. 1941.
©Dick Walpole

 

Founding garden director Jim Roof with the original garden sign, 1950.
©Bob Case Current garden director Bart O’Brien leading a tour for CNPS members, March 2015.
©Terry Smith Docent leading an elementary school tour, 2002.
©Teresa LeYung-Ryan Interpretive student aide Kate Ferroggiaro and gardener Don Fuller admiring plants from northern Baja California in the new rock garden adjacent to the Visitor Center, 2015 & The Garden Staff

 


 

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