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Trails, Maps, and Signs

All snug in their (flower) beds

All snug in their (flower) beds

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hummer, hummingbird, persimmon
Two Saturdays ago, I had the chance to work with the Laguna Foundation at Stone Farm, doing some restorative landscaping around the old farmhouse.



One of the new trees planted by volunteers. The old farmhouse has been restored over the past year and will now house offices for the Laguna Foundation. It was in ruinous state -- but very interesting to local landscape painters none the less! I wonder if we will still see people with their plein-air easels set up out here in the spring.



Some of the crew - moving wood chip mulch. This was at the very end of the 9 to 12 work party - there were two big hills of mulch to start with!




Under the mulch is a layer of cardboard. We punched holes through it, planted about 500 bulbs around the old palm trees, then covered all with the mulch.



The canopy was set up over our refreshments! There was juice, water, and lots of yummy homemade baked goodies. 
The story of the old palm trees - in the old days, ranchers planted them in rows along their driveways and approaches to their homes. Having a row of palm trees was a sign of prosperity! As you can see, the trees are hardy survivors. It will look great in the spring to see masses of paper whites and narcissus surrounding the massive old trunks. I remember this from my childhood - old farmyards with many spring bulbs gone wild! They aren't native, but they are certainly part of our agricultural heritage. Why do California farmers plant decorative things, or palm trees? Kind of, just because we can! And because our great-grandparents did. Just a sense of delight in the fertile possibilities of the place, is about the only way I can describe it!

Back along the driveway, the plants and trees we put in were natives - coyote bush, ceanothus, sycamore. They won't need summer water. Of course, this is a wetland, so there is plenty of water available here! Just slightly downhill, the big curving stretches of the Laguna have already started to swell with winter rains.



Wrapping up the morning's hard work!



A fun sculpture in front of the farmhouse! BTW, you've probably figured this out, but Stone Farm was named after the farm family that used to own it - the house is made of wood! and there are no stones to speak of in the very muddy soil.



Checking out some of the local mushrooms! The volunteers in back are spreading rice straw to keep down weeds. Eventually, the Foundation plans to put in an orchard of heritage fruit trees in that area. Immediately to the right is the site for the new education center.



View from the pond in back of the house. You can just barely see the gleam of the Laguna water to the west of Stone Farm. Out there in the line of yellow-gold willows and gray-barked oaks.



The cow pasture. All part of Santa Rosa's scheme to use up its processed waster water for agricultural purposes! Because they can't just dump it in the Russian River or in the Laguna. But, between the green pasture and the house on the right, there is an underground pipeline leading all the way up to The Geysers. A large portion of SR's wastewater is now used in geothermal energy plants up there.

I was so inspired that I signed up for the Tree-a-Thon coming up in January - we will plant native trees along the creek leading down to the Laguna.

Plus, the next time I was in town, I got myself some bulbs to plant in my own yard. I haven't planted any for a few years - it seems time to get a few started again. Yesterday I planted a dozen narcissus, a bunch of "Glory of the Snow", and some watsonias around the yard. Plus, a new artichoke plant! I haven't tried to grow any artichokes here yet. I used to grow them in my yard when I lived in the San Jose area - they are fun to watch as they send out their spiky delicious stalks! We will see what happens - in the spring. What keeps us hopeful all winter - what will survive the gophers, soggy soil, and cold rain, and come springing up in glorious sunshine?
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