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Category Archives: Gardening

Cal Poly Takes On Canada: Mosaicultures

Cal Poly Takes On Canada

Lauren Milliken, AEPS Student

Lauren Millikin, AEPS Student, Montreal Canada

Lauren Millikin, AEPS Student, Montreal Canada

A group of Cal Poly students and I went to Montreal to construct my senior project by participating in an international Mosaicultures competition. Mosaiculture is creating figures completely filled and covered with plant material. The competition was to create a landscape design that incorporated the theme of “Land of Hope.” Our team represented California in competition. Our goal was to design a scene that illustrated one of the defining characteristics of California: farming. California farms play a large role in the state’s economy, and we wanted to portray the connection between the farmer and land since agriculture plays a pivotal role in shaping our state’s economy. Our design revolved around an old farmer’s truck, and a father and son that represented farmers harvesting their crop. Stacked produce crates were also placed throughout the entire design to in order represent the symbol of California agriculture.

The group of Cal Poly students and a few faculty members all traveled to Montreal, Canada to construct the design at the Montreal Botanical Gardens.

The group of Cal Poly students and a few faculty members all traveled to Montreal, Canada to construct the design at the Montreal Botanical Gardens.

The Mosaiculture team

The Mosaiculture team

Team California/USA

Team California/USA

Team USA

Team USA

The group of Cal Poly students and a few faculty members all traveled to Montreal, Canada to construct the design at the Montreal Botanical Gardens. The garden is world-renowned and consists of many types of beautiful gardens with smaller ones within them.

Although constructing our actual project was hard work, the group still enjoyed the time spent together working towards a common goal. The two figures were welded for us by the engineers while groups of about two people worked together to line the figure with plastic netting and then fill it with peat moss. In order for the plants to grow, and still maintain its shape, the media had to be packed down as much as possible, which proved to be the most tedious process in the design. After the figures were filled, the plants were installed by cutting holes in the netting big enough for plugs. We used various plant materials for different parts of figures like the overalls, shirt, jeans, hat, skin, and boots. The plugs were allowed grow into the figure and give them character. The rest of the plot had the truck with Mosaicultures filled crates and the ground was turned into rows of crops. We chose plants that mirrored actual crops grown in state such as echeveria that represented artichokes and begonia as strawberries. The rows were all plotted in different direction to give the area texture and depth.

Site preparation

Site preparation

Building the pallettes and boxes

Building the pallettes and boxes

The two figures were welded for us by the engineers while groups of about two people worked together to line the figure with plastic netting and then fill it with peat moss.

The two figures were welded for us by the engineers while groups of about two people worked together to line the figure with plastic netting and then fill it with peat moss.

In order for the plants to grow, and still maintain its shape, the media had to be packed down as much as possible, which proved to be the most tedious process in the design.

In order for the plants to grow, and still maintain its shape, the media had to be packed down as much as possible, which proved to be the most tedious process in the design.

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In order for the plants to grow, and still maintain its shape, the media had to be packed down as much as possible, which proved to be the most tedious process in the design

In order for the plants to grow, and still maintain its shape, the media had to be packed down as much as possible, which proved to be the most tedious process in the design

After the figures were filled, the plants were installed by cutting holes in the netting big enough for plugs.

After the figures were filled, the plants were installed by cutting holes in the netting big enough for plugs.

We used various plant materials for different parts of figures like the overalls, shirt, jeans, hat, skin, and boots.

We used various plant materials for different parts of figures like the overalls, shirt, jeans, hat, skin, and boots.

The farmers

The farmers

The plugs were allowed grow into the figure and give them character.

The plugs were allowed grow into the figure and give them character.

All our hard work put into creating the Mosaicultures was well worth it: the plot looked beautiful, even better than what was created in the design process. I am happy to be part of this school trip to Montreal. Not only did I receive hands-on experience in building a Mosaicultures in one of the most beautiful, and diverse, cities in the world, I also learned the importance of positive team dynamics in group projects. Overall, the trip was a major success, and truly embodied the Cal Poly “learn by doing” philosophy.

Students at work

Students at work

Designing the "crops"

Designing the “crops”

Working on the green truck

Working on the green truck

The "green truck"

The “green truck”

the "green" truck

the “green” truck

the truck with the "crops"

the truck with the “crops”

Placing the truck in the plot

Placing the truck in the plot

Next door project...

Next door project…

planting the "crops"

planting the “crops”

Team USA

Team USA

Finished product

Finished product

Finished product

Finished product

 

2012 Haskell Scholarship Recipient

2012 Haskell Scholarship Recipient

Posted By: Desiree Davis, EHS student

My name is Desiree Davis and I was awarded the 2012 scholarship through the Arnold D. Haskell Foundation. This scholarship is made possible by the M. H. Sherman Company to benefit the overall advancement of environmental horticulture education in California. The Arnold D. Haskell Fund provides support to two outstanding students majoring in horticultural science at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA. As part of their overall educational experience, the students intern at the Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona del Mar, CA during the summer quarter following their scholarship award.

The Sherman Library & Gardens were established by Arnold D. Haskell starting in the mid-1950s. The gardens are open to the public.. Haskell named the Library & Gardens in honor of his mentor and benefactor, M. H. Sherman (1853-1932).

The following determine eligibility for the scholarship award:

1. Students must be actively pursuing a B.S. in major in Agricultural and Environmental Plant Sciences in the College of Agriculture.

2. Students must have scholastic achievement of a minimum cumulative 3.00 GPA

3. Students must demonstrate horticultural competency including successful completion of Principles of Horticulture, at least one Plant Materials class, Landscape Maintenance, Plant Propagation, or comparable courses.

4. Students must show evidence of participation and/or leadership in department activities such as student clubs, events, judging teams, etc.

5. Students must demonstrate strong personal character, work ethic, and initiative.

The Horticulture and Crop Science Department committee selects finalists from among qualified applicants. This committee forwards the finalists’ applications to Sherman Library & Gardens and M. H. Sherman Company for their review. The finalists interview with Sherman Company representatives at the Gardens. The HCS Department Head, Dr. John Peterson, is present at these interviews and participates in the selection of the Arnold D. Haskell Scholars.

Recipients must complete a six-week internship for academic credit at the Sherman Library & Gardens during the summer following receipt of the scholarship. I achieved this scholarship not only through my hard work but also through the help of my professors. It was important to write a clear, thoughtful, and unique essay to catch the attention of the Haskell Foundation. In my essay I explained how my love for being outdoors and working with my dad’s landscape design and maintenance company had taught me a lot about this industry and how this industry has shaped me into the confident, determined and responsible person I am today. I can’t wait until the summer for the internship portion of the scholarship. I will be able to learn and work in one of the most beautiful public gardens I’ve ever been to. Tough life, right?

I was pretty nervous during the waiting process – not knowing whether I was going to be interviewed or not. Then finally I was told that I had been granted an interview! Dr. Peterson drove me and the other HCS interviewees four hours south to Sherman Gardens in Orange County. Looking like business professionals, we all arrived in Corona Del Mar and were given a tour of the beautiful gardens. One-by-one we were called in with three of the principal Sherman Gardens staff and Dr. Peterson. I was very nervous but the interviewers were so nice! They were easy to talk to and were genuinely interested in you as a person and what you were about. I found myself relaxed and comfortable in the interview. If you are thinking about applying for this scholarship I can say that confidence is probably the biggest factor. Be confident. You are a Cal Poly student with the knowledge and skills to do great things!

The Haskell Story http://www.slgardens.org/:

“In 1955 Arnold D. Haskell (1895-1977) bought the Norman’s Nursery property at the corner of Dahlia Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway in Corona del Mar, California. The property included a small adobe house that he planned to use as his Orange County office. Shortly after occupying the adobe Mr. Haskell began landscaping the nursery site and the surrounding property. By 1958 the nursery area, now known as The Tea Garden, was being used as a community service project by the Newport Harbor Service League (later to become the Junior League of Orange County) for the sale of pastries, coffee and tea.

Mr. Haskell’s concept for the property was then expanded to include the building of a beautiful garden that would be open to the public. It was to be a serene oasis – a respite from the stress and pressures of daily schedules. During the 1960s the balance of the property making up the entire 2.2-acre block, which is now occupied by Sherman Library & Gardens, was acquired. Remodeling of the original buildings, consisting of the present gift shop, Gardens office and the adobe house, and construction of the Library, conservatory and central patio building were all completed between 1967 and 1974.

Typically (for he always shunned personal publicity) Mr. Haskell named the Library & Gardens after his mentor and benefactor, M.H. Sherman (1853-1932), and not after himself.”

 

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Internship at the Smithsonian (continued…)

Posted by: Katrina Burritt, EHS student

I just finished up my last week at the Smithsonian on Friday July 27, 2012. I really enjoyed
this internship. The staff was very nice and I got to connect to most of the people in the
Greenhouse unit because there wasn’t that many of us. I have learned so much about
maintaining a living collection, specifically with orchids, although I also worked with bonsai,
tropical and bromeliads. Work included testing the orchids for virus, watering (so much
watering), greenhouse maintenance, plant upkeep, flower arranging and database work. I
would highly recommend an internship within Smithsonian Gardens for anyone. Another bonus
to an internship at Smithsonian Gardens is all the field trips and events the interns are allowed
to participate in. I got to go the American History Museum, Natural History Museum, the Freer
and Sackler Gallery, and Dumbarton Oaks before they were open to the public.

 

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Internship at the Smithsonian

Posted By: Katrina Burritt, EHS Student

My internship at the Smithsonian is a position at the orchid greenhouse. So far I have learned lots about orchids including how to water, fertilize, what type of growing conditions the different species require, virus testing, virus eradication. My supervisor plans to work with me on transplanting, and dividing several different orchid species and hybrids, both indoor and terrestrial species. I plan to start a green roof project during my time at the Smithsonian. The green roof will be installed onto several bluebird houses that are going to be built on the property in Suitland surrounding the greenhouse grounds. I am going to be learning how to catalog and verify nomenclature of the orchid species and hybrids also.

 

Internship at Ganna Walska Lotusland, Santa Barbara

Posted by: Aly Crofford

This summer I had the amazing opportunity of doing an internship at the famous and beautiful Ganna Walska Lotusland, and it was such a great learning experience! This internship really was ideal; paid, housing provided, in beautiful Santa Barbara, and did I mention the garden is INCREDIBLE?! The housing that Lotusland provides is on the grounds and is basically just a room with its own bathroom, which is all connected to what they call the “green cottage,” where all the gardeners meet in the mornings. My room was pretty spacious and comfortable, but hearing coyotes and critters all night definitely took some getting used to. This 10-week program has been a great stepping-stone from the textbook-filled academic lifestyle to the hands-on world of public gardens.

I got to spend my time at Lotusland working directly with the Plant Health Care Coordinator, Corey Welles, who has worked at Lotusland for 22 years. Corey introduced this garden to the world of composting and sustainable management about 20 years ago. On the first day of my internship I was shown all around the garden and the backfields. Corey also told me that he would be going on vacation for 4 weeks and that I would be “in charge” of a couple of his duties. I spent my first week with Corey learning how to brew compost tea, set rodent traps (gophers, voles, and rats), take and send soil samples, and keep up the compost piles. Corey is all about gopher trapping; it is literally the thing he prides himself most on, so he spent a lot of time teaching me his techniques. Other than these duties, I would spend the rest of Corey’s vacation time working in each of the 12 different gardens.

Upon coming to Lotusland, I did not know much about compost tea and its uses and benefits. The compost for the tea all comes from Lotusland’s own compost piles in the backfields of the garden. They try to always maintain about 5 or 6 large piles of compost, which are turned a couple times a month, watered, and checked for temperature. Almost all green waste from the garden is put into the compost piles, along with food byproducts and tons of wood chippings to provide good aeration. The piles are rich with fungi, arthropods, and other microorganisms. The finished compost is sifted by hand and used throughout the garden for tea, renovation projects, and any new plantings. Once Corey left for vacation, I was left with the duty of brewing compost tea 3 days a week and cleaning the system once a week. I was also in charge of the fertilizer schedule and making sure that each gardener was doing the applications correctly.

Other than that and doing some soil sampling and gopher trapping, I was doing maintenance in each themed garden. It wasn’t easy work, but I enjoyed learning about the different needs of each type of garden. For example, the gardener in the Japanese garden taught me “Japanese-style” pruning, and the water gardener had me in a heavy duty Eddie Bauer wet suit walking around the large ponds and fertilizing the lotuses and water lilies. My favorite garden to work in was the bromeliad garden. The gardener of the bromeliads, Mike Furner, has worked at Lotusland for 34 years and he really knows his stuff. He assigned me a landscaping project of installing a terrestrial bromeliad section of the garden. I also really liked working in the butterfly garden because all of the plants were so beautiful and they have the most gorgeous cannas I have ever seen. My least favorite garden to work in was the cycads because I kept getting myself poked by the spiny leaves and there was absolutely no shade and it was HOT. The cactus garden also didn’t have any shade, but I love cacti so it was bearable.

The summer intern also gets to work at the main event called “Lotusland Celebrates,” which is their annual fundraising event and pulled in 500 guests this year. I got to work at the registration table and also at the auction. Doing the registration was a little stressful because it was so busy and all of the millionaires were antsy to get into the garden and didn’t want to wait in line. It was really cool to actually see and meet many of the donors that give so much money to make Lotusland what it is today. Working the auction was definitely my favorite part of the day, where I just had to observe and wave a flag if I saw a bidder. There were 6 auction items and none of them went for any less than $10,000. It was fun to watch all of the bidders throwing out thousands of dollars like it’s candy and then laughing about it. This was definitely the fanciest party I think I’ll ever go to.

When Corey got back from Germany, work definitely got more enjoyable and we were doing things that really tested my knowledge, instead of raking and pulling weeds. Corey constantly gets summoned by the staff to come look at damaged or diseased plants and then takes samples into his office to research and look at more closely. This part was the most fun for me, since we got to examine different pathogens and pathology has been my favorite class at Poly so far. My boss was really impressed with my ability to identify pathogens, specifically Armillaria, and my familiarity with preventative measures (thanks Dr. Yoshimura). Corey was also happy to know that I had taken a Biological Control class, since he is really into beneficial insects. About 14 years ago, Corey–with help from professionals–strategically installed insectary plants all around the garden. He mostly used California natives such as salvia, Sambucus, coffeeberry, and coyote bush. These plants harbor and attract beneficial insects into the garden, which then fly in and attack the insect pests of the garden. I also got the chance to work with the curator and we went on a couple field trips to nearby nurseries to pick up plants. Working with the curator was probably my favorite part of the program and really sparked my interest in curation.

All in all, this internship was awesome and I learned more than I can even fathom. Corey taught me to consider the natural ecology of the surrounding environment and showed me how to renovate soils and create habitats for beneficial organisms. This ecologically-friendly approach goes way beyond integrated pest management or organic gardening; it uses holistic techniques that seek to address the roots of problems instead of applying a “band-aid” solution. I feel really lucky to have learned all these sustainable horticulture skills and plan to use these methods in my future career.

I could honestly go on and on about everything that I did at the garden, but I don’t want to bore you guys, so I will stop here. Until next time!

Posted by: Aly Crofford, AEPS student

 

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Growing Rare Conifers

Growing Rare Conifers

Posted by: Mark Krist

My name is Mark Krist. I received a Bachelors of Science degree through the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences as an Urban Forester via the Natural Resources Management Department in 2007. I now serve as an Urban Forester through the College of Science & Math under the direction of Dr. Matt Ritter, Director of the Cal Poly Plant Conservatory. As the Urban Forester of the Cal Poly Plant Conservatory, I have had the pleasure to be involved in many important projects including the maintenance of this collection of rare conifers.

The attached pictures are of a collection of rare conifers currently being grown at the Leaning Pine Arboretum and slated to be planted in the future Math & Science Complex. The rare conifer collection is composed of 45 specimens representing 33 individual species. Recently the whole collection was transplanted to larger containers to promote continued growth. This was the second time the collection was “bumped.” The growing of the specimens on campus prior to the installation saves money and provides time to grow to a larger size.

This project is of particular interest because it represents a collaboration among the Horticulture and Crop Science Department (using the Horticulture Unit for space and resources), the College of Science & Math (the Cal Poly Plant Conservatory in the form of plant selection and maintenance) and the Cal Poly Grounds Department (who are the eventual landscape designers, and will install and maintain the plants). This collection is to be installed mid-2013 and that there are currently Landscape Architecture students formulating plans for class projects.

I would invite you to come visit the rare conifer collection at the Horticulture Unit, located in the Courtright shade house, to meet some new and fascinating specimens. All specimens are labeled and coincide with the following current container size listing.

Abies bracteata 15 gallon
Abies squamata 15 gallon
Agathis australis 15 gallon
Agathis corbassonii 5 gallon
Agathis robusta 20″ box
Araucaria bidwillii 20″ box
Araucaria E = 24 15 gallon
Araucaria unknown 15 gallon
Athrotaxis selaginoides 5 gallon
Austrocedrus chilensis (2) 15 gallon
Calocedrus rupestris 15 gallon
Cunninghamia lanceolata 20″ box
Cupressus gigantea (2) 5 gallon, 3 15 gallon
Dacrydium cupressinum (female) 15 gallon
Dacrycarpus dacrydioides (2) 15 gallon still waiting for boxes
Halocarpus bidwillii 5 gallon
Juniperis communis 15 gallon
Podocarpus gnidioides 15 gallon
Podocarpus lawrencii (2) 15 gallon
Podocarpus latifolius 20″ box
Podocarpus longifoliolatus 5 gallon
Podocarpus totara 15 gallon
Podocarpus urbanii 15 gallon
Pseudotsuga macrocarpa 15 gallon
Prumnopitys andina 5 gallon
Sciadopitys verticillata 15 gallon
Sequoiadendron gigantea (4) 15 gallon
Taxodium mucronatum (2) 15 gallon still waiting for boxes, (1) 15 gallon
Taxus selaginoides 5 gallon
Taxus wallichiana 15 gallon
Torreya californica 15 gallon
Torreya taxifolia 15 gallon
Wollemia nobilis 20″ box
Mark Krist

Urban Forester, Cal Poly Plant Conservatory

PlantConservatory.CalPoly.edu

MKrist@CalPoly.edu

 

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Interior Plant Program To Invade Campus

Interior Plant Program To Invade Campus

Posted By: Dani Ruais

“You’re going to love plants by the end of this…”

Very few people know about the Interior Plant Care Program that Agricultural and Environmental Plant Sciences lecturer Joe Haslett spear-headed on Cal Poly’s campus. He started the program summer 2011, and in just under a year, the Horticulture and Crop Science department is present in every sit-down restaurant on campus, making its way over to the new Rec Center and hopefully into the University Union by the end of summer 2012. The idea behind this project was not just to beautify the campus core (which, as horticulture students, we just have a knack for beautifying spaces), but to teach the Interior Plant Care students the ins and outs of how the interior plant care industry works. Students participate in all aspects of the process from designing and planning, to choosing and growing the plants, to installing the plants in their new spaces, as well as taking care of the regular watering and maintenance of the plants. Most of the plants used in the restaurants on campus are grown by Cal Poly Horticulture students in the Foliage Greenhouse #10 at the Horticulture Unit. The plants were prepped and installed and are currently maintained by students.

You can see them for yourself at The Sandwich Factory, The Avenue, Metro Express, Metro 19, Ciao! and Sage restaurant.  They have been installed and maintained by paid Agricultural and Environmental Plant Sciences students. After our program received much support from the rest of the Cal Poly campus community, we were given the opportunity to also design the interior plants for the new recreation center on campus that just opened earlier this year in the spring of 2012.

The process of designing for a client is both exciting and challenging. It’s exciting because we are getting hands-on experience that you would only get if you were in the industry, and challenging because we are faced with real-world circumstances such as working with a client’s budget, or a client’s idea of how he or she would like the design done (everything from the plant selection to the container selection). I not only got experience with installing and maintaining different interior plants and spaces, but I also got experience with the software that industry professionals use to design interior spaces for their clients.

After our design plans for the new recreation center were approved, which takes a while in the real world, it was time to take a trip to the Santa Ynez Gardens Nursery to pick out our larger more expensive palm trees, as well as some interesting color plants to make “color bowls” that may be changed out seasonally, such as at Christmas time with poinsettias.

Once our plants and containers were delivered, it was time to stage and clean all the plants before they are put in their new home. We cleaned and pruned them at the Horticulture Unit prior to placing them in the Rec Center. For the larger plants, we had to assemble them on site. But for our smaller plants and color bowls, we were able to get them all ready so that they could just be placed in their spots. Even though we purchase clean plants from nurseries, it’s important for us to inspect and clean them ourselves so that we can guarantee the plants’ health. We use a natural citrus spray to smother mites and insects as well as to give the foliage some shine. Then we place the plants in their individual saucers, or pots that have sub-irrigation so that we can easily replace plants in the future.

I urge everyone to check out our work! Visit the dining complexes on campus as well as the Rec Center that we just finished installing. I hope you all enjoy the plants as much as I do.

If you would like more information on the Interior Plant Management class that is offered by Joe Haslett, our projects, or possible jobs, please contact Joe Haslett at: jhaslett@calpoly.edu.

Posted By: Dani Ruais

 

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