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.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

SEED COLLECTION AND DISPERSAL - Our Next Step in Restoration

Today was a special day for the Garber Park Stewards. We spend so much of our time in Garber seeking out invasives to evict from the park,  but today we had a slow, purposeful walk along the trail identifying, collecting, and disbursing seeds at our 2nd restoration site along Harwood Creek. Plus, a rare heat wave in the Bay Area made it a perfect day to be in Garber's shady riparian woodland.

Our Workshop on Passive Restoration and Seed Collection on June 21 was lead by Lech Naumovich, Founding Director of Golden Hour Restoration Institute. He began the workshop with a discussion of the principles and methods of seed collection. We then headed out along the lower loop trail. We were rewarded with a rich variety of native plants – from Giant Vetch, fields of Cow Parsnip, snowberry, creambush, thimbleberry and more – each in a different stage of development, which provided Lech with the opportunity to demonstrate how to compare immature and mature seeds. Squeezing a seed pod that appeared to our untrained eyes as mature produced a white “doughy” substance – mature seed pods are hard and when opened – have seeds.

Continuing our walk we find mature seeds – Cow Parsnip and GiantVetch – which we carefully collected and placed in envelopes labeled with the name and location of the plant (easy with iphone GPS app). Arriving at Restoration Site #2 at Harwood Creek (fondly called Bob's Place after the guy who lead the successful effort to eradicate the Himalayan blackberries) we walked up the hillside along the creek disbursing the seeds. Unlike our first Restoration Site at the Evergreen Lane entrance, Bob's Place will be a study in Passive Restoration.

And what is Passive Restoration? From Lech's handout “It is using existing resources (seeds, vegetation, debris, organic matter) to improve habitat conditions for target native plants. Passive restoration is seeded in the assumption that the site has rich native resources that simply need to be encouraged. Utilizing the on-site seed resources is central to passive restoration.” Although we will have to wait till next spring to see the results of today's effort, removing the Himalayan blackberry has already shown its rewards – native ferns, willows, and other natives are beginning to emerge.

Read Lech's workshop hand-out and his description of the workshop to learn more about seed collection.  The Garber Park Stewards hope it will inspire you to join us on one of our Stewardship Days.   While we mostly do ongoing invasive weed removal we have now added Seed Collection and Dispersal to our Summer Stewardship activities.  Can't make it to a workday but want to learn more about seed collection?  Contact Shelagh at  She will gladly arrange a time for a guided walk through the park.

Below is a participant's summary of the day:
Lech was incredible - sorry I could not stay.  I was able to contribute by gathering quite a few seeds on the uppermost part of the trail from the Vicia nigricans gigantea.  Your groups work and the planting project are outstanding and I like Lech's very locavore emphasis.

I had never been to Garber Park.  I was excited to see Acer negundo, Fraxinus, Alnus rhombifolia, lots of invading Epipactus helleborine and tons of Ash - Fraxinus along with cream bush Holodiscus, lots of fairy bells-Disporum hookeri, Drypteris, Elymus, bromes and Juncus - not to mention 2 kinds of Solanume-blue witch and a white flowered solanum.

I think Garber Park has fascinating diversity.  I admire your fight against the dreaded Himalayan blackberry and you and your group have done an incredible job on the park.  AS