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Category Archives: Public horticulture

Building Our Resources: Strengthening Our Advantage

PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE OF AGRICULTURE

Agriculture is the leading industry in California, contributing over $500 billion annually to the state. Among universities that grant undergraduate degrees, the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at Cal Poly SLO is the fourth largest undergraduate agriculture program in the nation, with more than 3,500 students. It is the largest non land-grant agricultural program in the United States. The College awards an average of 650 baccalaureate degrees each year, nearly half of all baccalaureate agriculture degrees granted in California.

San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo, CA

The Department of Horticulture and Crop Science now serves over 300 students annually. Students at Cal Poly SLO come from all over California, with the majority hailing from the Central Coast and Central Valley, followed by the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles areas. Only seven percent of students attend from outside California.

HCS Vineyards

HCS Vineyards

The future of the agricultural industry rests with the education of Cal Poly SLO’s highly capable students who will provide leadership to one of the world’s most important industries. The challenge is enormous: produce more food for exponentially greater numbers of people on less land with a finite amount of natural resources and do it in an environmentally sensitive manner. Food, water, land, and air are our primary resources, and to use them wisely, we need trained, motivated students eager to tackle these critical issues with energy and intelligence. In addition, the enhancement and management of our personal and community environments with plants is an important issue that helps assure us healthful lives and better quality of living and keeps us in harmony with the natural world around us.

San Luis Obispo, CA

San Luis Obispo, CA

AGRICULTURE’S KEY ROLE AT CAL POLY SLO

The University’s learn-by-doing, hands-on philosophy is reflected in the laboratory-intensive curriculum, focus on undergraduate research, importance of cooperative work experience, and the requirement of a senior project that is applied in nature. Cal Poly SLO is an institution that prides itself on keeping students current with industry trends. Horticulture and Crop Science at Cal Poly SLO have a rich tradition dating to the University’s founding in 1901.

Cut Flower production in Retractable Roof Greenhouse at Horticulture Unit

Cut Flower production in Retractable Roof Greenhouse at Horticulture Unit

In 1901, visitors to San Luis Obispo saw a ranching and farming community of just over 3,000 people. What is now the Cal Poly SLO campus was farmland some distance north of the town, a place where the trustees charged with finding land for the campus were impressed by the oranges picked from the groves of the Dawson Lowe Ranch. From the University’s earliest days, agriculture in the fertile area was a primary emphasis–even in areas where the soil was “inferior”. Trustees saw this as a perfect learning opportunity for students. As the campus grew in acreage, extensive dryland crops, vegetable fields, vineyards, and orchards were added to the site.

Cal Poly SLO Orange Groves on Highland Drive Entrance

Cal Poly SLO Orange Groves on Highland Drive Entrance

The departments evolved with the decades, feeling the pinch of the Great Depression and the extraordinary influx of students as a result of the GI Bill. Before World War II, horticulture facilities included a lab for plant propagation, tool storage for horticulture and grounds departments, housing for two students, a redwood lath house, and a 1,200 square foot glasshouse. The Crops Department had 390 acres under cultivation and an assortment of storage facilities. Only after World War II, was an Ag Building constructed, housing classrooms, offices, and labs. In 1962, the Crops field house (Building 17) was erected and land under cultivation soon increased to 719 acres.

Corn fields with Madonna Mountain in the background

Corn fields with Madonna Mountain in the background

Crops Unit Complex (Building 17) erected in 1962

Crops Unit Complex (Building 17) erected in 1962

Peaches in production at the Crops Unit

Peaches in production at the Crops Unit

The subsequent decade witnessed a building boom on campus. Conceived in the 1960’s, the Leaning Pine Arboretum developed over time into a lush, five-acre showcase for native and mediterranean climate plants. The 1970’s saw an increase of 13,000 square feet of greenhouse space for Ornamental Horticulture and Crops and some new facilities. New classroom and office space was added in 1986, with the construction of the Agriculture Sciences Building (Building 11). The Crops Department was able to add two new labs to their site in the 1990’s to replace the labs lost in prior renovations and construction.

Leaning Pine Arboretum at the Horticulture Unit (Building 48)

Leaning Pine Arboretum at the Horticulture Unit (Building 48)

In 2002, Environmental Horticultural Science (formerly Ornamental Horticulture) and Crop Science merged to strengthen student education across the curriculum and better prepare students to enter the Plant Agriculture Industry. But in recent years, facilities for both departments (most of which date from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s) have fallen short of the kind which today’s students expect and today’s industry requires.

EHS Unit at the top of Via Carta on campus

EHS Unit at the top of Via Carta on campus

In response, the Horticulture and Crop Science Department (HCS) has developed a master plan for comprehensive modernization of the Horticulture and Crop Units: the Sustainable Horticulture and Crop Science Complex. The current 20th century facilities will be revitalized to accommodate new technology and the needs of the 21st century. Already, we can see that this century of agriculture is driven by the need to feed and clothe a growing world population using methods that ensure the continued productivity of our farmland.

Food processing and packaging labs

Food processing and packaging labs

In these new facilities students will experience modern harvesting, post-production care and handling, marketing, and retail. The renovations will allow for meaningful collaborations with industry, preparing agricultural graduates to provide immediate value in the workplace, and renew both the Horticulture and Crop Sciences’ curriculum and faculty.

We were the second greenhouse nursery to grow this new variety of Green Ball Dianthus (aka Trick Carnations) grown at the EHS Unit greenhouses

We were the second greenhouse nursery to grow this new variety of Green Ball Dianthus (aka Trick Carnations) grown at the EHS Unit greenhouses

With your support during this planning process for the Sustainable Horticulture and Crops Complex, you will help develop:

  • More and better-qualified graduates
  • Improved learning facilities
  • Cooperative education programs with industry
  • Opportunities for students to enhance their skills in leadership, management, and communication
  • Programs that rapidly incorporate industry advancements, both in sustainability and technology

OUR FUTURE

Perhaps nowhere else in the world are the educational opportunities are greater for students to see, experience, and learn about the production, handling, utilization, and marketing of ornamental and food plants than in Central California’s Coast and Valley. On the coast, the mediterranean climate and superb growing conditions provide an extraordinary spectrum of ornamental and food plants. Nearby in the Central Valley, agricultural production is California’s breadbasket.

We're located in one of the most fertile areas in California

We’re located in one of the most fertile areas in California

California is also home to some of the largest nurseries, greenhouse operations, and landscape maintenance companies in the United States and ranks second among states in the number of golf courses. California’s horticulture industry is a multibillion dollar business and Cal Poly SLO graduates are in demand by the industry.

Students in the greenhouses at the EHS Unit

Students in the greenhouses at the EHS Unit

Poinsettia Enterprise Project in greenhouses at EHS Unit

Poinsettia Enterprise Project in greenhouses at EHS Unit

As we consider the future of agriculture in California, we have an extraordinary opportunity to plan wisely for a Sustainable Horticulture and Crops Complex, attracting new students to agricultural careers and expanding Cal Poly SLO’s critical role in the industry. Working with other departments across the campus, we will continue to teach our students to be environmentally and politically sensitive to the global forces that are shaping our industry:

  • Competing demand for natural resources
  • Cost structures
  • Infrastructure required to ensure a safe food supply
  • Energy consumption and the impact of alternative sources of energy
  • Shortage of skilled labor
  • International public policy demands

WHAT WE SEE FOR OUR FUTURE OF THE DEPARTMENT’S FACILITIES

Driving north on Highway 1 from the coast, the morros of San Luis Obispo rise from the east as you enter the valley, with Bishop’s Peak dominating the west. The entrance to the university on Santa Rosa is the first impression visitors traveling along Highway 1 have of California Polytechnic State University. Flanked by avocado and citrus groves on the south, and Radio Tower Hill to the north, it is also the first impression of the Horticulture and Crop Science Department. It is an ideal location to showcase Horticulture and Crop Science; planting terraces of water-wise native mediterranean plants on the northern slope, opening up the views to the orchards on the south, and creating immediate opportunities for learning with signage along the walkway leading into the interior of campus.

Bishop's Peak dominates the Cal Poly SLO backdrop

Bishop’s Peak dominates the Cal Poly SLO backdrop

Continuing along Highland Drive, now lined with Italian Cypresses, the groves and buildings of Crops Science are the first teaching facilities visitors encounter. The Crops Unit has 70 acres of productive citrus, avocados, grapes, deciduous orchards, and berries. Now the site is a series of labs and ramshackle structures, but we envision a Farmer’s Market outfitted in the old Crops Field House, moving the Organic Farm to this prime location, as well as a new winery, dormatory for a select few students, and upgraded teaching and office space.

Cal Poly SLO Organic Farm

Cal Poly SLO Organic Farm

Walnut processing lab at the Crops Unit

Walnut processing lab at the Crops Unit

The relocated Organic Farm and new Winery will create innovative educational opportunities and programs that reflect the significance of these components in the crops industry. Largely student managed, the current eleven acre Organic Farm is home to a variety of programs, including Cal Poly SLO’s annual CSA subscription program. Students are involved in composting, natural pest control, native plants, bio-intensive agriculture and permaculture design. Additionally, students volunteer for work activities. But the current site is too close to other campus activities to be a truly successful and public-accessible organic farm.

Crops Unit Vineyards

Crops Unit Vineyards

Students harvesting organically grown vegetables at the new Organic Farm

Students harvesting organically grown vegetables at the new Organic Farm

Cal Poly SLO grown produce from the Organic Farm

Cal Poly SLO grown produce from the Organic Farm

Produce from the Organic Farm and Crops Unit sold at the current Farmer's Market on campus

Produce from the Organic Farm and Crops Unit sold at the current Farmer’s Market on campus

Consumers are driving the demand for more organic and sustainable products. Additionally, there is an increased demand for locally produced products. At the new Farmer’s Market and Organic Farm, a visitor might learn about making honey, bottling wine, fruit and nut processing, enjoy an ice cream cone with Cal Poly SLO’s own ice cream, buy flowers and ornamental nursery plants from the Poly Plant Shop, or learn about organic and sustainable (as well as conventional) farming techniques. Visitors meet Horticulture and Crop Science students working in the shops, the fields or new labs, studying integrated pest management, viticulture, vegetable production or cleaning and storing equipment. A new greenhouse showcases the latest in hydroponic production, demonstrating how the vegetables for sale at the Farmer’s Market can be grown during the colder seasons. Green roofs cover the new buildings, including a dormatory for four students who oversee the site. These green roofs are water-wise, and insulate the buildings as well.

Nursery one-gallon plants for sale at Poly Plant Shop

Nursery one-gallon plants for sale at Poly Plant Shop

Poly Plant Shop student-made bouquets for sale

Poly Plant Shop student-made bouquets for sale

Student-built and maintained Greenwall at the EHS Unit

Student-built and maintained Greenwall at the EHS Unit

Cal Poly SLO Honey for sale

Cal Poly SLO Honey for sale

Fruit and vegetable production fields will be redesigned and relocated to enhance educational and operational efficiencies. New laboratories will incorporate the latest in operational and farm management equipment, particularly related to plant protection and product handling systems. Students have the opportunity to learn cutting-edge techniques in the field through close interaction with instructors. Lab-intensive, hands-on approaches to learning continues to be a top priority for our students.

Students trained how to use farm equipment

Students trained how to use farm equipment

Cut flowers in production in the greenhouses at the EHS Unit

Cut flowers in production in the greenhouses at the EHS Unit

One-gallon nursery plants in full production at the EHS Unit

One-gallon nursery plants in full production at the EHS Unit

Driving east along Highland Drive and going left on Via Carta toward Poly Canyon Village, Cal Poly SLO’s new dormatories housing 2,700 undergraduate students, visitors come to the Horticulture Unit now transformed with new greenhouses, a visitor’s center and up-to-date classrooms, demonstrating the latest in plant production and floriculture techniques in a unique rural-urban landscape. The Amatoscapes at the southern end of the Horticulture Unit invite visitors to the Leaning Pine Arboretum, itself a showcase for water-wise mediterranean plants from Chile, South Africa, Australia, Europe’s Mediterranean Basin, and California natives. Along Drumm Creek, a horse trail borders the demonstration are for native plants where students work on bio-water filtration, propagating native grasses and restoring the creek habitat.

IMG_3482

Poly Canyon Village and Cerro Vista undergraduate dorms

Leaning Pine Arboretum

Leaning Pine Arboretum

The California food, fiber, flower, and forest system continue to change dramatically, being driven by continuing advances in technology, consumer behavior and globalization. The new Horticultural Science Unit will train students about the production, harvesting, handling, and utilization of ornamental horticulture crops in contemporary methods. Out-dated labs and classroom facilities will be modernized and greenhouse structures will be renovated to demonstrate cutting-edge technologies. Turf and arboriculture areas will be augmented with the high-tech equipment required for training students in this lucrative industry. Here too the green roofs and green walls are evident on the new dormatory and Visitor’s Center, underlining Horticulture and Crop Sciences’ commitment to creating sustainable landscapes and a harmonious relationship with our environment.

Arboriculture lab

Arboriculture lab

New student-designed, built, and maintained ampitheater

New student-designed, built, and maintained amphitheater

Beautifully student-grown pansies for color trials

Beautifully student-grown pansies for color trials

California claims the largest urban agriculture industries in the United States–industries such as landscape, nursery, greenhouse products, golf and recreation. The Horticulture Unit at Cal Poly SLO can offer students tremendous diversity of landscape–both natural and urban–to learn an integrated approach to land-use that addresses the optimum stewardship of the land, natural resources, energy and labor, combined with sustainable economic growth and profitability. This is the model that California’s agriculture, floriculture, and resource professionals will follow.

Hydroponic vegetable crops in the new Hydroponic Greenhouse at the Crops Unit

Hydroponic vegetable crops in the new Hydroponic Greenhouse at the Crops Unit

Students installing the next crop of hydroponic vegetables in the Hydroponic Vegetable Production lab

Students installing the next crop of hydroponic vegetables in the Hydroponic Vegetable Production lab

Hydroponically grown Gerbera Daisy cut flowers in the EHS Unit greenhouses

Hydroponically grown Gerbera Daisy cut flowers in the EHS Unit greenhouses

HOW YOU CAN HELP REALIZE OUR DREAMS

The College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences strives to be a leader in providing students with real-world skills based on laboratory and field-intensive curricula, contemporary instructional technology, uncommon access to senior faculty in small class settings, and student enterprise projects. We already know the new millennium is different than Cal Poly SLO’s was over 60 years ago. Skills, such as computer literacy and being technically savvy, are mandatory. The days of strictly domestic production are disappearing, and success on the international level will require an understanding of other cultures and fluency in other languages. Technology keeps increasing the rate of change in our world, and our students have to be flexible, agile, and successful communicators.

Student grown succulents

Student grown succulents

Senior projects offer students a unique opportunity to Learn. Do. Lead.

Senior projects offer students a unique opportunity to Learn. Do. Lead.

The opportunities are tremendous on this campus. More than 6,000 acres are allocated for agricultural instruction on the campus at San Luis Obispo. There is rangeland for grazing, and more intensively cultivated parcels are used for orchards, vineyards, fruit and nut crops, vegetable production, field crops, agroforestry, and turf management. Greenhouses, the Leaning Pine Arboretum, as well as facilities for fruit and vegetable processing are available for production and instructional use. But Horticulture and Crop Science has not been truly modernized since the 1970’s, putting Cal Poly out of step with industry standards. While the worldwide demand for trained men and women in plant bio-technology, integrated pest management, precision farming, post-harvest technology, research and development, consulting, and marketing is growing everyday, the Horticulture and Crop Science Department has more or less stood still. In order to give our students the best education that Cal Poly SLO can offer (and attract new and fresh faculty) we must bring our facilities up-to-date.

Cal Poly SLO Compost for sale

Cal Poly SLO Compost for sale

Collecting insects for Biocontrol and Entomology classes

Collecting insects for Biocontrol and Entomology classes

Scouting for pathogens at the Crops Unit

Scouting for pathogens at the Crops Unit

We estimate that we will need to raise $20 million dollars to do everything we see in our future. Our immediate goal is to secure $1 million dollars for design and planning of the Horticulture and Crop Science Units. This would include relocating the Organic Farm, changing the circulation and roadway on the site of the new Sustainable Crops Complex, new landscaping along HIghland Drive, garden design and landscaping for the Environmental Horticulture Center and a new entrance to Cal Poly SLO from Santa Rosa. Your gift is the building block that will allow us to incorporate our vision into the curriculum, secure new students and faculty anticipating the latest technology and techniques at Cal Poly SLO, and retain the “Learn by Doing” hallmark on which Cal Poly SLO has built its reputation.

Cal Poly SLO

Cal Poly SLO

If you would like to help us realize our dream for our new department facilities for our students, you can help by donating to the Horticulture and Crop Science Department. Just make a check out to “Horticulture & Crop Science Department” and send it to:

HCS Department,

1 Grand Ave.,

Cal Poly,

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

 

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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An Intern’s Life in a Public Garden: The Best Job in the World

An Intern’s Life in a Public Garden: The Best Job in the World

Posted by Hallie Schmidt, AEPS ’13

Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, Filoli is a property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Formerly a grand 654-acre country place, Filoli is operated today as a public garden, cultural center, and nature center. It was built in 1917 as the country estate for Mr. and Mrs. William Bowers Bourn II and has a 16-acre formal English Renaissance-style garden as well as original elements from a “gentleman’s estate,” an orchard, agricultural fields, and oak woodlands.

Under the supervision of a horticulturalist, interns learn techniques of planting, watering, hedging, fertilizing, mowing and pruning, with two-week rotations in five garden areas. They are also taught to operate power equipment, use hand tools and are required to learn garden and greenhouse plants, weeds, and native plants. A test on these subjects completes the 10-week program.

As part of my internship, I kept a daily journal of my activities. At the end of each week or when I felt inspired, I would write an overview of my experiences and thoughts about everything. Below are my journal entries while at Filoli.

WEEK 1:

I am already thoroughly enjoying this internship program. I appreciate that my lead trusts me to do more specialized tasks like pruning or mowing. Because I am given good direction, I feel that I have been doing well with the tasks assigned to me. I am also performing regular tasks more quickly and with more confidence as I become comfortable with them. For example, I watered pots and coiled hoses much more quickly on Friday than I did on Monday. On my second day of pruning azaleas I felt my approach and finished product improved. I appreciated the power tools workshops as I haven’t had a great deal of experience. The fine-cut mower makes me a little nervous, but I don’t think we’ll be using that here anyway. I wish I could drive a tractor…guess I’ll have to save that for the tractor driving class at Cal Poly, SLO.

WEEK 2:

Just as I get used to an area it’s my last day! I do like that I get to spend time in each area and with only a 10-week program, two weeks is generous. I’m beginning to notice myself go through different energy levels throughout the day. For example, I will be doing an activity like weeding, and I am dragging. It takes a lot of physical and mental effort to do a good job. And then, after break, I will be plowing through the beds, doing an effective job without even thinking. I wish I knew how to always be in that high-energy positive state. Interns stay with local families and do garden work in exchange for the hospitality. Going into this I already know that I wouldn’t be looking forward to the extra garden work after a full week of gardening. I am grateful for this opportunity that has saved me from having to arrange and pay for local housing for the summer. However, I think it would be ideal for interns to live together, on the Filoli property if possible. Since we don’t ever work together during the day we don’t really get to bond much and I feel we’re missing out. Even doing yard work together after work would be better than doing it alone.

WEEK 3:

I really like doing irrigation work because I feel that it takes problem solving and thinking. I do love gardening, but I also like to be mentally challenged. Sometimes gardening can be a “moving meditation” as Dave Lesser calls it, which is good. Irrigation, however, is like a moving puzzle for which you have to use critical thinking and observation. I also know that water is a huge issue in California, so being an auditor, or any job with water use, will have demand and possibly good money in the future. I will definitely consider this possibility. I don’t mind getting wet…in the summer anyway.

WEEK 4:

Once again, I am sad to be leaving this garden area. I really enjoy all the flowers for cutting. They have a nice effect with all the different patches of color around the garden. I think they are much nicer than roses, but people do love roses so they are an inevitable part of public gardening. I would really like to be part of flower arranging, either here at Filoli or in the future. Which is another class that I can take at Cal Poly, SLO. (Floral Design I & II taught by Melinda Lynch).

WEEK 5:

Working in the greenhouse is a total change of scenery compared to the past two weeks in the garden. I’m definitely enjoying it, which is surprising to me because after my nursery internship last summer, I decided I wasn’t into the nursery scene. It seems like a more social work environment because everyone is close together and there are more people working here. Also, I’m learning a totally new set of garden techniques (watering pots, propagation, interior plant care, greenhouse environmental controls, etc.)

One thing I found interesting was the biological controls being used in the greenhouses. In an effort to move away from pesticide sprays the staff is experimenting with introducing beneficial insects into the greenhouse environment and soil. So far I know there are good nematodes (that eat the larvae of fungus gnats and lacewings). There are also some botanical helpers: marigolds and peppers, whose pollen is apparently helpful. Cool, huh? At the end of the day I was having trouble with my forearm and wrist. I was doing a lot of hand-sewing and pruning over the weekend, plus holding the pruners while taking cuttings. Add holding the hose and I must have overworked it. I tried to do more cuttings in the afternoon but my hand was shaking and I wasn’t nearly as efficient as before. So I cleaned the greenhouse instead. I’m hoping tomorrow it will be back to normal. I like taking cuttings!

WEEK 6:

I got a history of renovations of Area Two from Matt. The area has undergone a lot of change since he began here about five years ago and it sounds like there’s more to come (removal of the rose garden, planting bulbs, renovating boxwood hedges and yews, moving from chemical to organic fertilizing, planned removal of the Sunburst Honey Locust and olive trees, etc.) Along with that, he explained to me the evolving goals of Filoli garden, as in practical vs. traditional, botanic garden vs. original specimen plants, various visions vs. the original architect’s vision for the property.

It’s an interesting thing for a public garden institution to consider, especially in the case of a historic national trust. My initial reaction was to introduce a variety of new plants and design ideas (I love protea and a “Native California English garden” would be an interesting challenge and demonstration for patrons) but I definitely see the benefit and reason to maintain a historic garden in the state it was originally planted and planned. There are numerous famous landscape architects. To change the plants and themes in a historic garden would be like modernizing or updating a Frank Lloyd Wright home. It would no longer be his piece and would not reflect history of the artist’s design accurately.

However, I do think changes in the cultural practices are appropriate, especially at Filoli where a lot of the traditional methods are still maintained. For example, I’m glad underground irrigation has been installed and I think it’s great that Filoli is making the move to using organic fertilizers and on-site composting in lieu of chemical fertilizers. Still, tradition is preserved, especially in the greenhouse area where the original greenhouses, cold frames and even wood cutting boxes are still used. Overall, this is an interested topic of debate.

WEEK 7:

I had a plant problems workshop and walk with Dave Lesser (Filoli horticulturalist). Dave is an interesting guy and it seemed to me that his main goal was to encourage us to observe the world around us in more detail than we are accustomed to doing. Having these skills will make us better diagnosticians of plant problems and also better storytellers and observers in general.

Something he said at the beginning of the talk stuck with me: the idea of gardeners being seen as “glorified janitors”. I see this perspective, and from the general labor we do I can feel it, too. However, in the case of plant problems, there is a step up in the respect people give (and the amount they will pay for consulting). After our walk I feel more confident in identifying thrips and fire blight and the weevil that likes Rosaceae plants.

I was already interested in becoming a certified arborist and this workshop got me even more motivated to do so. Just as with irrigation, I like the critical thinking and diagnostics that plant problems entail. Although pests and fungi and diseases gross me out more than water in pipes, I still find it interesting and could see myself doing this for a living, especially with trees. Trees are such majestic, revered, incredible structures of life and spending my work day around and up in them, sick or well, would be wonderful.

WEEK 8:

I’ve always been interested in compost so the combination of this with the soil science class I just took during the winter make a lot of the concepts easier to grasp in the composting workshop. Still, I have never had the opportunity to observe in person the methods of how small scale, commercial composting is done. The windrow turner is also a very cool piece of machinery. I think Filoli should be proud that the composting is going so well and that they seem to be successfully making the transition to more sustainable amending practices.

I’ve been pruning two huge, old camellias and I must say that when I finish one, it is very satisfying to step back and look at my work. The last two I did are round and about 10-12 feet high and maybe 6-8 feet wide. THey each took me two to three afternoons, but the finished product is an open, round, non-fluffy globe that should flower well into the winter and spring. Now I’m dreaming about camellia pruning. I see the leaves and Felcos in my mind when I close my eyes.

WEEK 9:

I am now in my final area! As the lead, Shippy said, it’s like my Olympics of the internship because I’ve been practicing the past eight weeks and now is my time to perform. After working in the sunken garden I feel more experienced in lots of skills I didn’t used to have. I’m also looking forward to learning more about fruit tree care as the orchard is part of this area.

Shippy explained to me what the regular morning routine will be for me: walking through the area looking for animal damage, dry spots in the lawn, etc. I will also take down the electric fence around the front of the house.

This area is unique from all the others for a few reasons. First is that is has a lot of hardscape and a great deal more non-formal and wild landscapes. This means different kinds of maintenance such as rough-cutting along roads, picking up trash in the parking lot, looking out for safety hazards, etc. Shippy emphasized the fact that this is a very public part of the public garden, as everybody who comes through here sees it. Also having the orchards is an interesting aspect because these are not attached to the formal hardens and really just serve as germplasm storage rather than appealing to visitors. Still, their care is important.

We just completed our plant ID test this afternoon and tomorrow we will have tests on power equipment and hand tools. I feel I did very well on the ID test–it was similar in format to Professors Hannings and Faulstich Plant Materials class at Cal Poly, SLO. I think the tool test will be more in depth than the ID test as in addition to names we’ll also have to know uses, parts, care, and maintenance.

To sum up my experience at Filoli, I’ve done five internships since I’ve been in college and I truly belive that I have learned more at this program than at any other place I’ve been. I came into this internship with minimal hands-on garden experience and now I can look at the garden and identify what needs to be done, what tools to use and of course, I can do it all myself! The most important lesson for me is that if i get a job like this one out of college, I would be happy and satisfied with the work I do. Visitors to the garden always comment to me that “this must be the best job in the world!” and although it is hard work, at this point in my life they are absolutely right.

 

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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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Hands on Experience in England

Hands on Experience in England

Posted by: Analisia Basurto, AEPS student

Little did I understand what was in store for me when I agreed to do an internship with the RHS in England this summer. The RHS stands for the Royal Horticultural Society of England, which organizes most of the horticulture world of the UK. Among their gardens is Wisley Gardens, their largest garden expanding out about 240 acres. I had the privilege of working at Wisley for a 6-week internship, moving to a different department each week. Each department showcased different plant types/plant regions as well as different horticulture styles. While in each department, I was able to engage in lectures specific to the issues experienced in that department, whether irrigation management, fertilizer treatment methods, plant ID, or teamwork organization.


I found the immersion into Wisley Gardens incredibly valuable in my academic studies. From the first day, I was applying principles of plant ID, maintenance techniques, and human relation skills to the job site. This forced me to pull out elements from classes at Cal Poly, bringing me practical hands-on application to theories I’ve learned over the last two years. Everything from Landscape Maintenance to Plant Pathology classes came into play through the internship, making me value even the dullest moments in lectures.

Aside from being immersed in horticulture, this internship gave me the opportunity of touring the UK during the Olympics. Having a chance to walk the streets and meet the people of London, Brighton, Eastbourne, Hastings, Norwich, Bath, and Edinburgh over the weekends made every week an adventure. I felt like I got the best of a vacation and job experience all in one package! If you think that going international for your internship might be up your alley, I would highly recommend you go for it! I learned so much about plants, people, and life that made me ever so grateful to have been given this experience.

 

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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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American Institute of Floral Designers 2012 National Competition & Symposium “Caliente”

American Institute of Floral Designers 2012 National Competition & Symposium “Caliente”

Posted by: Becca Bollier

This was the first year I attended the American Institute of Floral Designers Annual Competition and Symposium.  I was not quite sure what to expect, but I was thinking a day of competition, a few shows, and a little bit of time to explore Miami, FL.  As we arrived, we discovered there was so much to do!

The first major event was the competition.  As the competition neared I became more and more nervous.  Although we had practiced our designs before the competition and had them critiqued by local floral designers, I was a little bit intimidated since some of the young women from the other schools had been to symposium once or twice before.  Each student had to make a buffet table arrangement, bridal bouquet, sweetheart table arrangement, and two identical napkin rings.  The competition did not go as smoothly as planned, so I was relieved when it was over.  It was all a learning experience and I will be much more prepared for anything that might go wrong for the next competition!

Bridal Bouquet, Sweetheart Arrangement, Matching Napkin Rings, and Buffet Piece

Bridal Bouquet

Sweetheart Table Arrangement

Buffet Table Piece

As soon as the competition was over, we had a little bit of time to relax, but it was time to get started on our bouquet for the trends show.  There were different trends that were divided up to all of the different schools that were a part of the competition.  For each trend there was to be a bouquet, a screen, and a wedding arrangement.  This show was put on by Talmage McLaurin who is publisher of the popular floral design magazine, “Florists’ Review”.  He was so much fun to work with and was able to help us out a lot with our designs.  Cal Poly SLO was assigned the bouquet for the trend “Sea to Shining Sea.” This included beautiful shades of blues, greens, creams, and a touch of pink.  We wanted to create something similar to what you would see if you were to go to the tide pools just minutes away from Cal Poly.  To do this we made the bouquet that you were able to look inside.  This was not your ordinary bouquet.  We spent hours gluing on seashells and getting every little detail just right.  The bouquet was gorgeous and it was definitely worth the extra effort.  The bouquet was then in the show and on stage in front of hundreds of people.  It was then displayed for everyone to view up close.  So many great designers came up to us telling how much the loved it and how creative it was.  It was such a good feeling to know that all of these well known designers liked what they were seeing.

From Sea to Shining Sea Trend for 2012. Made by Cal Poly students Becca Bollier and Desiree Davis

From Sea to Shining Sea Trend for 2012 Bridal Bouquet

From Sea to Shining Sea 2012 Trend bridal bouquet

2012 Trends bridal bouquet

Throughout the week there were so many other things we were helping out with.  It seemed that we were going nonstop for the entire week, but it was definitely worth it!  We volunteered to be models for Fitz designs, which is a company that makes beautiful bouquet jewels, flower bracelets, body pieces, headpieces, and much more.  We also spent a good amount of time in the workroom.  We would help designers in any way possible.  This was an amazing experience that I will never forget.  I was able to meet and talk with so many different designers that are world renown and also learn some fun tips and tricks.  We also went to as many of the shows as possible.  I could not believe what I saw at some of the shows.  Everything was so extravagant and over the top from the shows, to the dinner events, to the floral decorations in the hotel lobby, and even in the bathroom!

Flowers to wear

Desiree Davis making her flowers to wear

I am so happy I was able to attend symposium this year.  It was a great opportunity to meet and work with so many amazing designers.  It was a rare experience to be able to help the designers so much with their designs.  I would love to go back next year where the convention will be held in Las Vegas, NV.  None of this would have been possible without Cal Poly’s amazing floral design lecturer, Melinda Lynch, AIFD, the Cal Poly Floral Design Team, and the Horticulture and Crop Science department!

Posted by: Becca Bollier

Becca Bollier

 

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