Student Projects

The Garden Director's role gradually diminished during the period 1994 to 1997. The Blake Garden faculty committee, under the direction of department chair Michael Laurie, became more detached from the garden, and the role of garden manager John Norcross increased. During Beatty's tenure as director, Norcross had implemented several garden improvements, including a deer fence and the redesign and construction of a seating structure near the great lawn. In 1994, he reassembled a redwood pergola designed by Garrett Eckbo for a San Francisco Garden Show. Michael Laurie had rescued this disassembled structure from the department's courtyard at Wurster Hall and asked Norcross to find a location for it at Blake Garden. Norcross worked with Eckbo to determine a location and adapted the structure for reassembly on the garden's western slope. 

Although the garden still provided many educational opportunities for students in the department, as well as for those from regional educational institutions, the emphasis of projects at Blake Garden changed incrementally from small design and build projects to horticulture projects. Many students expanded their knowledge of horticulture through work­-study and volunteer positions. These students were given hands-on experience in the design, propagation, planting, and care of plants. This new direction in student use of the garden produced several rejuvenated sections. For instance, the entry drive was extensively replanted with plants better­ suited to the Mediterranean-like climate of the Bay Area, and the cut flower section was extended to better accommodate the President's need for an ample supply of fresh flowers and vegetables. This new section of the garden became a major attraction with its wide range of vigorous annual, perennial, and medicinal plants. 

During this period, Professor John Radke began using the garden for exercises in computer applications courses. Students built a digital database of the garden, mapping trees and buildings. Later they developed three-dimensional models for a new entrance and a new greenhouse, using GIS (Geographic Information Systems) to determine a greenhouse site. 


Following Director Pat Lindsey's departure in 2002 and the LAEP Department's decision to broaden use of the garden by rotating its directorship among the faculty, Professor Linda Jewell assumed the lead and initiated full-scale mock-ups of introductory landscape design exercises at the garden. She also supervised construction projects at the garden by students in her construction courses, projects that ranged in size and complexity and included rock walls, wooden fences, stone pavement and garden furniture constructed from reclaimed wood, stone or steel. Concerned about developing a model for more sustainable gardens, garden manager John Norcross and Jewell began investigating ways to reduce water usage in the garden. Efforts have been made to both increase efficiency of the irrigation system and reduce the amount of lawn area. To these ends, the lawn to the west of the house was redesigned to decrease its size by one-third and a more efficient irrigation system was installed. At the west lawn a new seating area, pavement and a stairway leading up to the house were incorporated into student projects and constructed with the aid of garden staff.

Assistant Professor Judith Stilgenbauer has also supported student use of the garden. Arriving at Berkeley in 2003, Stilgenbauer continued Jewell's method of using the garden in first year studio courses by asking students to install low-impact, temporary interventions at the garden. She also took advantage of the garden's diverse settings, styles and flora in directing her planting design and plant identification classes. 

In Spring 2005 the LAEP Department held a competition for a new trellis to replace the winning entry of a similar competition held in 1973. First prize went to student Ivan Valin.