Short Summary

Garber Park is a 13-acre wildland park owned by the City of Oakland located behind the Claremont Hotel in Claremont Canyon. Garber Park is home to significant stands of big-leaf maple, California buckeyes and regenerating coast live oak woodland and forest. The Garber Park Stewards vision is to safeguard the native wildland resources of Garber Park while reducing the risk of wildfire and improving the trail system.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Blue Wild Rye - Elymus glaucus - in seed bed #4
at the Evergreen Ln. entrance.

On Saturday, August 20, Lech Naumovich, Golden Hour Restoration Institute led another fun, informative, and hands-on seed collection workshop in Garber Park. Our first seed collection event in June focussed on the "early" bloomers in Garber. The goal of this second seed collection workshop was to collect and disperse the later maturing seeds - especially the grasses. The workshop began with a discussion of the basics of native seed collection, followed by a short walk to the Garber Park Stewards first restoration site at the Evergreen Lane Entrance.

Joyce smiling at  finding a Cream Bush (Holodiscus Discolor).
Not yet in bloom this pretty white flower will be a fall
The five beds at Restoration Site 1were all planted with a variety of native plants and grasses that grow naturally in other parts of Garber Park. We were excited about our first "harvest" - we planted this past February.We opened mature seed pods, collected them in paper envelopes, and spread them in a newly cleared area at the restoration site. We then walked along the Lower Loop Trail where signs of fall were everywhere, most evident by the crunching noise of fallen leaves beneath our feet as well as the few dried stalks of cow parsnip still standing. But we also found many plants still blooming - the sticky monkey flower (mimulus aurantiacus), bee plant (scrophularia californica), fairy bells (Prosartes Hookeri), and ocean spray or cream bush (Holodiscus discolor) - which means we'll have many more opportunities for seed collection throughout the fall.

A few of the highlights we learned on seed collecting:
  • Never collect more than 10% of the seed of an established population. For newer sites, such as our Restoration Site 1 only collect 2-5%. We want to keep the site intact and healthy for future generations.
  • Ascertain maturity of a seed by picking and checking before making a large collection.
  • Always look for bugs. You don't want those seeds.
  • Grasses - seeds on the head ripen progressively so at any one time both immature and mature seeds are present.
  • Seeds need to be dry. Don't put in the fridge right away, let them dry out first. Store seeds in a paper bag or envelope.
  • Label the envelope with the species common name (or Latin if you know it!), collection place (easy with phone with GPS app), and date.
  • Seed viability: Annuals for the most part have low viability. Grasses viable for 3-5 years. Want to get the first seeds of the season for the best viability.
  • Highest germination occurs the first year. Perrenials - 1st year seeds are the best seeds.
  • Berries - we're competing with wildlife! We found this on thimbleberries which had no berries remaining.
  • Elymus glaucus,( blue wild rye) seed head.
    California Buckeyes are mostly mature trees in Garber. We are restoring the conditions to bring back the buckeye. Because the deer think the tender young leaves are so delicious we have placed cages around several young plants to give them a chance to mature. At Bob's Place there is an Oregon Ash that we need to cage as well.
And a couple of general restoration techniques:
  • For many of the invasives, especially thistles, "mulch cut" (make several cuts at the same time starting at the top, cutting into small pieces working towards the ground) - the plant won't grow back.
  • Direct rainfall on a hillside starts erosion. A good way to reduce sheet flow down the hill is to create "natural water bars." On our restoration site 1 we used logs to create irregularly shaped planting beds. What about Jute netting or cardboard? Except on large planting areas Lech prefers creating the Natural Water Bars.

Read more on seed collection techniques, including sections on Passive Restoration, Steps to a Successful Seed Collection Effort, and Site Preparation for Seeds in the hand-out Workshop on Passive Restoration and Seed Collection 11 - The Role of Grasses given to participants.

For more on the workshop from Lech

Lech opening a seed pod to test maturity.