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.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Our July 21st workday in Garber Park brought old friends to challenges, old and new.  As in past Julys, we noticed the approach of Fall in the Big Leaf Maple leaves, this time still lingering on their branches, but browning nevertheless.
On the way to our work site on the lower loop trail, we noticed the pervasive invasion of Erhardta grass on the cool slopes below the switchbacks.  Besides serving as a basic element of a fuel ladder, this exotic  grass proliferates easily and chokes out other plants, including seedling trees.  We decided to clear it from the lower loop trail in the delicious shade of the thimbleberry bushes.  As we worked on the trail we noticed several other early aspects of Fall, including the bright red
Thimbleberries , and the overarching Vicia gigantia, Giant Vetch, which

 had already set seed.  We made a mental note to return and harvest some of the Giant Vetch seed for later scattering in the Measure DD area by the creek.  The Horsetails from the upper meadow are moving into that area and Giant Vetch would thrive there also.
Towering over all of this, we also noticed a blossom that seemed unusual here, though it is not uncommon in East Bay woodlands--Holodiscus discolor known as Creambush or Oceanspray.  Apparently this lovely native is suitable for native gardens and highly regarded as decorative, but we had not noticed it previously among the Snowberries, ferns, Thimbleberries, Gooseberries, and other plants near the creek. 

All this time our special visitor, Janet Gawthrop of CNPS, had been laboring under the low  branches of the Garber Oak to remove outlier Cape Ivy from the high banks of the creek where newly opened spots of sun would invite its spread.  The removal of Cape Ivy remains one of the largest challenges for the Park, especially the wetland areas where it quickly becomes embedded, and has to be removed to the root and carried off site in bags.

 From Janet's vantage, we glanced down into the lower Coast Live Oak forest, so far, we believe, free of Sudden Oak Death infection, but harboring a number of juvenile Bay Laurels, primary vectors for the disease.  In the past Fall has meant a double load of clearing chores, seed collection, and preparation for restoration planting.   This Fall however, facing and searching for a remedial strategy with respect to Sudden Oak Death will take place as a high priority.   Can we keep the lower oak forest in tact?  Can we understand the natural future of each of our distinctive Garber forests?