Regional conferences aid landscape education

The North American Japanese Garden Association will hold two regional conferences in October 2015.

Fostering Mature Cultural Landscapes: The Japanese Gardens in New York will be held Thursday and Friday, October 1 and 2, featuring The Pocantico Center and the Japanese Garden at Kykuit, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, United Nations Peace Bell Garden, Innisfree Garden, and Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden. The opportunity to visit the Peace Bell garden is extraordinary as this garden is not normally open to the public.

Members of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) may earn continuing education credits for participation in the conference and garden tours.

For further information, please look at the NAJGA web site:

Sadafumi Uchiyama

Sadafumi Uchiyama is one of the specialists teaching proper techniques in the pruning workshops.

Branching out in the South: Pruning Small Trees and Shrubs in the Japanese Tradition is a two-day, intense, hands-on workshop scheduled for Thursday and Friday, October 22 and 23, at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Culbetson Asiatic Arboretum in Durham, North Carolina.

There are several special features of this gathering including a farm to fork dinner and a tour of a private residential garden.

Continuing education credits (CEUs) for the lectures and workshops have been granted by the Southern Chapter of the International Society of Arborists (ISA)Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) and the North Carolina Landscape Contractors’ Licensing Board (NCLCLB).

For additional information, please refer to the NAJGA web site:

There are more than 250 Japanese gardens in Canada and the United States. These gardens are havens of beauty and tranquility, cultural and historic landscapes and places for natural healing.  Since 2011, the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA) has been promoting the welfare of these gardens and the people who love and care for them through education and advocacy.

A biennial conference is in the planning stage for March 7 and 8 at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Florida. The conference theme is Towards a Healthier World: Japanese Gardens as Places for Wellness and Transformation. For information on invitations for presentations, guidelines and theme, please refer to the NAJGA web site.

NAJGA logo

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Progress on the bamboo thicket

Abundant gratitude to all who came Saturday, July 18, to help with the overgrown bamboo thicket at Lili`uokalani Gardens. Teams of cutters, pullers, and carriers filled Mountain Meadows large truck to overflowing TWICE during the eight-hour day. The material was diverted from the Hilo dump to be chipped into mulch at Raymond Tanouye’s nursery.

a necessity for the clean-up day -- a way to remove material in bulk for processing into mulch

a necessity for the clean-up day — a way to remove material in bulk for processing into mulch

Harvey Tajiri brought a propane powered generator that ran three reciprocating saws all day long. Much gratitude to Craig Shimoda, Kenji Kuroshima, and Cody Osborne for bringing their tools and extra blades.

Cody Osborne

Cody Osborne

Harvey Tajiri and Kenji Kuroshima

Harvey Tajiri and Kenji Kuroshima

Craig Shimoda

Craig Shimoda

Wally Wong and a team from Rotary Club of Hilo cleaned and cut the long poles into manageable pieces. Many were given to members of the public who stopped by to request material for flutes, flagpoles, and other projects.

Rotary Club of Hilo joined in the all-day bamboo event

Rotary Club of Hilo joined in the all-day bamboo event

Wally Wong, president of Rotary Club of Hilo, hands bamboo up to landscape architect David Tamura

Wally Wong, president of Rotary Club of Hilo, hands bamboo up to landscape architect David Tamura

East Hawaii Master Gardeners also participated in the thinning and in the clean-up. Jacqui Marlin and members of the Hawaii Chapter of the American Bamboo Society co-sponsored the “Bamboo Fun int he Garden” event, answered questions about bamboo varieties and ran craft workshops throughout the day.

bamboo craft

Jacqui Marlin of the Bamboo Society demonstrated several crafts. Participants were able to take material home to practice further


a small tent provided shade for workers and space for workshops

More remains to be done. With the County Parks & Recreation Department’s permission, two more days have been scheduled to finish thinning the bamboo thicket: Friday and Saturday, August 21 and 22.

If you would like to participate, come to Lili`uokalani Gardens at 8 a.m. on either day. Wear closed toe shoes and bring your own gloves. If you would like some bamboo for your own projects, just ask anyone from Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens to help.

This area of the large thicket exemplifies what remains to be thinned on Friday and Saturday, August 21 and 22

This area of the large thicket exemplifies what remains to be thinned on Friday and Saturday, August 21 and 22

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Rained out for one work day

All night rain, along with some thunder and lightening, continues this morning (Friday, July 18)

All night rain, along with some thunder and lightening in the wee hours, continues this morning (Friday, July 18, 5:30 a.m. purple haze at sunrise through the pouring rain. photo by K.T. Cannon-Eger)

In consideration of the weather and everyone’s safety, “Bamboo Fun in the Garden” is cancelled for today, Friday July 17.

We will try again tomorrow, Saturday, July 18.

Sorry for any inconvenience. Safety first.


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Bamboo Fun in the Garden

Dwayne Mukai, president of Kumamoto Kenjin Kai, and Rev. Jeffrey Soga, Rimban for Hawaii Island's Hongwanji join in the conversation. (photo by Bill F. Eger)

Dwayne Mukai, president of Kumamoto Kenjin Kai, and Rev. Jeffrey Soga, Rimban for Hawaii Island’s Hongwanji join in the conversation some years ago.

Three years ago, when Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens just got started, a group of volunteers and members of the board met with Ebi Kondo, curator of the Japanese garden at Denver Botanic. Top on the list of things to do was thin the overgrown bamboo thicket.

This week, Friday and Saturday July 17 and 18, we finally have the approvals and equipment needed to accomplish this task AND combine it with an educational element.

Please join in the fun Friday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. The first part of each day will be clearing and thinning and organizing materials. The second part of each day will offer craft workshops on how to make large and small items from bamboo.

The event is free and open to the public. Bamboo Fun in the Garden is co-sponsored by Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens and the Hawaii Island Chapter of the American Bamboo Society with the cooperation of the Department of Parks & Recreation.

Board members were joined by Queen Lili`uokalani Children's Trust Hilo Children's Center director Lance Niimi and East Hawaii Master Gardener Daghild Rick, among others, for a test clearing of the bamboo thicket in June.

Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens board members were joined by Queen Lili`uokalani Children’s Trust Hilo Children’s Center director Lance Niimi and East Hawaii Master Gardener Daghild Rick, among others, for a test clearing of the bamboo thicket in June.

Additional participants are expected from East Hawaii Master Gardeners Association, Rotary Clubs, Sierra Club, Fukushima Kenjin Kai, Moku Aina, and the nearby Naniloa Hotel.

Workshop presenters are anticipated to start around 11 a.m.

All participants are reminded to be mindful of safety. Please bring eye and ear protection and wear closed-toe shoes. Shoes need not be boots, but your toes should be covered. If you are going to work with bamboo, please bring gloves.

Materials will be provided to all workshop participants to take home.

Here is an example of a properly thinned bamboo patch with a path through the middle.

Here is an example of a properly thinned bamboo patch with a path through the middle.

For the health of the plant, bamboo should be thinned as in the photo above — loose with air and light coming into the center and a path or two winding through the patch. You can see each individual stalk of bamboo, but still have the effect of a forest.

Meet at the bamboo thicket in Lili`uokalani Gardens for work and play Friday and Saturday, July 17 & 18

Meet at the bamboo thicket in Lili`uokalani Gardens for work and play Friday and Saturday, July 17 & 18

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Lili`uokalani Gardens featured in NAJGA Journal

stone bridge

Lili`uokalani Gardens circa 1930 from the University of Hawaii – Manoa library digital archives

The second annual Journal of the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA) features a story on Hilo’s Lili`uokalani Gardens in a section devoted to gardens celebrating a centennial.

“It is such a delight to see and so important for Hilo to be included in this professional Japanese gardening publication that receives international distribution,” Journal editor K.T. Cannon-Eger said. “Lili`uokalani Gardens will mark 100 years since construction began with a year full of activities in 2017. Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was formed to help the County prepare for the centennial and to ensure the continuation of this unique garden, a jewel at the gateway to Hilo.”

Ongoing efforts include monthly volunteer work days at Lili`uokalani Gardens. The next scheduled efforts are Friday, May 15, and Saturday, June 13. Each volunteer day is scheduled from 8 a.m. until noon. Volunteers are asked to bring their favorite tools, although some tools, gloves, and refreshments are available from the Friends group.

“Plans for the centennial year include a major event in or connected to Lili`uokalani Gardens every month of the year,” said Cannon-Eger. “An art show, a floral design event, fun run, golf tournament, and gala are among projects in the planning stage in addition to traditional annual events such as the Queen Lili`uokalani Festival in September, the Urasenke of Hilo anniversary in July, and many annual fund raising walks held by the Hawaii Heart Association, Hawaii Island HIV/AIDS Foundation, Hawaii Animal Shelter, and our police and firefighters.”

Other Japanese gardens featured in the NAJGA Journal centennial series and the year of each garden’s centennial (in parenthesis) include The Huntington in San Marino, CA (2012); Maymont in Richmond, VA (2012); Brooklyn Botanic Garden, NY (2015); the Japanese Friendship Garden of San Diego, CA in Balboa Park (2015); and Hakone in Saratoga, CA (2015).

The 70-page publication plus sturdy cover features abundant historic black-and-white and modern four-color photographs throughout. In addition to the Centennial Gardens section, six gardens are featured in a series on pond renovation and repair: The Missouri Botanical Garden’s Seiwa’en, Chicago Botanic Garden’s Sansho’en, Philadelphia’s Shofuso, Washington DC’s Hillwood Estate, Austin, TX Taniguchi Garden, and Rockford, IL Anderson Japanese Gardens.

Two additional lengthy articles in the Journal investigate the landscape gardens at Manzanar, one of ten internment camps on the mainland United States during World War II. The gardens at Manzanar continue to be uncovered and restored during archaeological projects of the National Park Service. The Manzanar articles had to be edited for length in the printed edition of the Journal. The full article is available on the NAJGA web site.

Copies of the NAJGA Journal are available for sale at the Hawaii Japanese Center at 751 Kanoelehua Avenue and Basically Books at 160 Kamehameha Avenue in Hilo, HI.

“Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens is an organizational member of NAJGA, the first Japanese garden in Hawaii to be a member,” said Cannon-Eger, a founding member of both organizations. “As a professional, non-profit organization, NAJGA is dedicated to the appreciation, understanding, and sustainability of Japanese gardens throughout the United States and Canada. We have seen first-hand the benefits of membership through the wide variety of programs, workshops, and services they offer. We hope one day to host a regional conference or international convention of NAJGA in Hilo.”

For additional information on the North American Japanese Garden Association, contact president of the board of directors Kendall Brown at or send a letter to NAJGA at P. O. Box 28438, Portland OR 97228.

For additional information on Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens and how you might help prepare for the centennial celebration in 2017, contact K.T. Cannon-Eger at (808) 895-8130 or email to or write to Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens, P. O. Box 5147, Hilo HI 96720.


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Volunteers make the difference in garden improvement

During the months of May, June, July, August, September and December in 2014 and January and March in 2015, nearly 130 volunteers put more than 520 hours into projects at Lili`uokalani Gardens with the agreement and cooperation of park maintenance staff.


a quiet corner of Lili`uokalani Gardens … photo by Bill F. Eger, 2015

Many thanks are due to the members of Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens for their hands-on approach. The Sierra Club Moku Loa Chapter, East Hawaii Master Gardeners Association, Fukushima Kenjinkai, Moku `Aina, Urasenke Hilo, and the UH-Hilo exchange students contributed greatly to this effort.

Donations of material, supplies and tools were received from Ace Hardware, Jas. Glover, and individual board members. This includes everything from water, ice, and coffee for volunteers to gloves and trash bags to adding tools to the maintenance shed to soil and plants and fertilizers, and 16 tons of two different sizes of gravel (6 of #3, ¾” minus and 10 of #9).

Paths have been improved. The Shoroan tea house garden is looking better. The seaweed in the pond has been reduced. Lines on the parking lot were refreshed with paint. Weeds in garden beds and on the roofs of shelters have been removed. Small trees have been pruned.

Efforts were designed not only for general improvement but also to support the Fukushima Kenjinkai annual tanabata festival, the Queen Lili`uokalani Festival, and the Urasenke Society’s special events in July and September 2014, and January 2015.

Park maintenance supervision has shifted from Mike Brown to Jason Mattos and a new wish list of tasks has been set forth.

Spring volunteer work days have been set for Saturday, April 18, and Friday, May 15. Time is 8 a.m. to noon each day. Meet at the picnic table in the old sumo ring near the small parking lot and Shoroan tea house to sign in and choose assignments.

To see any photo in this blog full size, click on the image. Any image not otherwise credited is by K.T. Cannon-Eger.

You are encouraged to comment on articles in this blog. Please don’t waste your time trying to spam this blog. All comments are reviewed prior to posting and anything not related to the subjects discussed here will be summarily dumped with nary a second look nor regret.

As my East Coast landscaping friend James Hanselman frequently remarks, “Wishing you joy in your garden.”

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Blossom time in paradise again…

Two varieties of ornamental cherry trees are available for planting on the Big Island: Pink Cloud and Okame. Both are low-chill varieties, meaning there is a possibility they will succeed at elevations lower than Volcano or Kamuela.

photo by Kenji Kuroshima used with permission This Pink Cloud ornamental cherry tree, a low-chill variety hybridized at the Huntington in Pasadena more than 40 years ago, bloomed lightly in its second year in Hilo.

photo by Kenji Kuroshima used with permission
This Pink Cloud ornamental cherry tree, a low-chill variety hybridized at the Huntington in Pasadena more than 40 years ago, bloomed lightly in its second year in Hilo.

Okame ornamental cherry trees burst into bloom in Panaewa just outside Hilo at Mountain Meadows Nursery.  photo by K.T. Cannon-Eger

Okame ornamental cherry trees burst into bloom in Panaewa just outside Hilo at Mountain Meadows Nursery.
photo by K.T. Cannon-Eger

The two varieties were chosen for their pale pink blossoming habit in addition to the low-chill variety. These trees have been successful in Pasadena, Los Angeles and San Diego.

For further information on availability on Hawaii Island, contact K.T. Cannon-Eger or Mountain Meadows Nursery in Panaewa.

If you wish availability in the mainland United States, please contact L. E. Cooke Nursery (wholesale nursery orders only) or your local garden shop.

Local sales of Okame and Pink Cloud benefit the Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization working toward the centennial of Hilo’s Lili`uokalani Gardens in 2017.

Here is a link to an article on cherry tree history in Washington, DC, posted by the North American Japanese Garden Association.


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2014 in review by Helper Monkeys

pau hana

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Volunteers invited to help clean Lili`uokalani Gardens

The sixth volunteer garden help day at Lili`uokalani Gardens in Hilo, Hawai`i is scheduled for Friday, December 19, from 8 a.m. until noon.

“Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens, East Hawai`i Master Gardeners Association, Moku Aina, Moku Loa Chapter Sierra Club, UH-Hilo exchange students, Urasenke Hilo, and Fukushima Kenjin-kai are among groups who have participated this year in helping our County at this jewel of a park,” said garden enthusiast K.T. Cannon-Eger.

“Through donations to Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens (a 501-c-3 charitable organization), we are able to provide water, trash bags, and gloves to volunteers. Please bring your favorite tool and join in the fun.”

For further information, contact Cannon-Eger at (808) 895-8130.

… and now for something related … a video and news report from NHK on the conference held by the North American Japanese Garden Association in Chicago in mid-October. Please click on the link.


Chicago Botanic Garden features chrysanthemum displays in the fall at the Japanese garden.

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Stones at UC-Berkeley Japanese pond date back to 1939 World’s Fair on Treasure Island

Treasure Island 1939

Placement of the stones in the Japanese garden at the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island was designed by Kaneji Domoto, who later oversaw moving the stones to UC Berkeley for the Japanese pond in the botanic garden.
(Photo reproduced courtesy of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, donated by Francis and Gloria Massimo) The Exposition was held in 1939, the same year Domoto worked on another garden in New York for an exposition there.

[the following quoted information on Kaneji Domoto is excerpted from the Taliesin Fellows newsletter #12 July 15, 2003]

Kaneji (known as Kan) Domoto was born on November 5, 1913 in Oakland California, the eighth of eleven children. At the family nursery in Hayward, he learned to propagate camellias and peonies for which his nurseryman father had become famous.

“Domoto attended Stanford University studying science and physics, and played on the soccer team. He also studied landscape architecture at the University of California in Berkeley.

“He apprenticed at Taliesin in 1939 and began his career as architect and landscape architect in California. He came east to assist in the creation of the Japanese exhibit for the New York World’s Fair following work for the San Francisco Treasure Island Fair.”

With the advent of World War II, Domoto was interned with his wife, Sally Fujii, at Granada War Relocation Center [also known as Camp Amache] Colorado. At the end of the war, they moved to New Rochelle, NY with their children, Mikiko and Anyo. Later two more children, Katherine and Kristine, were born in New Rochelle, NY, where he made his home for many years. Domoto died January 27, 2002.

“Domoto had a long and productive career in architecture and landscape design. He designed several homes at the famous Frank Lloyd Wright Usonia homes development at Pleasantville, NY. He designed landscapes for residential and commercial projects, mainly in Westchester County but also in surrounding northeastern states. He became noted for his use of huge stones and rocks in his well-known Japanese-American gardens at the New York World’s Fair Japanese Exhibit, in Berkeley, California, Jackson Park, Chicago, and Columbus, Ohio.

“His career produced more than 700 projects, and Domoto received many awards for his work, including the Frederick Law Olmsted Award for his Jackson Park design. He donated many hours to local and national civic associations throughout his career.

“His wife, Sally, died in 1978, and his second wife, Sylvia Schur, survives him [at the time this was written in 2003]. He leaves 4 children, 6 grandchildren and 1 great granddaughter, 2 sisters, and a number of nieces and nephews.”

The Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island celebrated the opening of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay (Bay Bridge) Bridge in 1936, as well as the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937.

Domoto also published a book on bonsai. His brother Toichi Domoto remained in California with the nursery business and is featured in oral histories in the UC-Berkeley collection on the growth of the California landscape industry.

The area of the Japanese pond in the botanic garden on campus is known as Strawberry Creek. According to director Paul Licht, the area was a dairy before becoming a pond.

(photo by Bill F. Eger)

(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Work on the Japanese garden began in November 1941. Immediately after Pearl Harbor, the stones and lantern were moved to a warehouse for safekeeping and the garden was not completed until after the war ended.

Elaine Sedlack shows the gate

Elaine Sedlack shows the donated gate at the UC-Berkeley pathway to the Japanese pond. Sedlack laid the pathway stones that go through the gate built by Paul Biscoe. Retaining wall stone masonry was by Shigeru Namba.

Curator Elaine Sedlack has gardened since 1969 and has been with the Asian collection since 1984. She is active in international plant societies including maples and rhododendrons. Sedlack noted that a flood in 1965 brought a lot of mud down the slope and that the lantern was damaged at that time.

Over the years, many improvements and additions have been made. Shigeru Namba, a stone mason from Osaka living in California, built retaining walls around the gate built by woodworker Paul Biscoe. Namba, his wife Sakiko and their two year old daughter drove in from Woodside to set a lantern obtained in Japan by landscape architect Ron Herman.

The gate and the lantern honor the involvement of two stalwarts of Berkeley’s Japanese-American community: artist Chiura Obata and ikebana teacher Haruko Obata, his wife.


a dedication plaque inside the gate honors two long-time garden activists
(photo by Bill F. Eger)


The lantern is dedicated to Haruko Obata for her contributions to the art of flower arranging. As early as the 1915 exposition in San Francisco, her work was important enough to warrant an entire room for display.

“To my thinking there is no great art without Nature.” Chiura Obata (1885-1975)

Chiura Obata (1885-1975) was born in Japan and came to California in 1903. A master in the traditional Japanese sumi ink and brush technique, he also excelled in art education and taught at the University of California, Berkeley from 1932 until 1954, except for the years of internment. Many works were published in the book Obata’s Yosemite (Yosemite Association, 1993).

In 1932, Obata began his teaching career at the University of California. For watercolor painting, he gave his students the traditional Japanese materials: the brush, ink of pine soot, colors from vegetable and mineral pigments, and silk and paper as media. In 1938, Time magazine called Obata “one of the most accomplished artists in the West.” Known for defining the nihonga style of painting—a technique that blends Japanese traditional ink painting with Western methods—Obata influenced a generation of artists who were part of the California Watercolor Movement in the 1920s and ’30s.

His popular classes were interrupted by evacuation first to Tanforan and then to Topaz internment camp in Utah in 1942. Even under these conditions, Obata painted prolifically and organized art schools in the camps with as many as 650 students from the internees.

His granddaughter Kimi Kodani Hill notes, “His experience of knowing nature consoled and inspired him,” Hill says. “He always told his students at the camp ‘don’t just look at the dust on the ground, look beyond.’” Hill is editor of Topaz Moon: Chiura Obata’s Art of the Internment, with an introduction by Timothy Anglin Burgard and foreword by Ruth Asawa.


Smithsonian exhibit, A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the U.S. Constitution: “All the families did some gardening about their dwellings in order to beautify them. Everything had to be brought in from the mountains, rocks, trees and shrubs.” Chiura Obata about the garden outside the family quarters at Topaz; illustration used with permission from the family.

He returned to the University of California in 1945 and resumed his faculty position. Former University President Gordon Sproul and several students had kept many artworks safe during the war and returned them to Obata. He traveled extensively as he lectured, sketched, painted, and gave one-man exhibitions at major galleries and museums.

In 1965, Obata received the Kungoto Zuihosho Medal, an Imperial honor and accolade, for promoting goodwill and understanding between the United States and Japan.

From 1954 to 1972 Obata was a tour director, taking Americans on regular visits to renowned gardens, temples, and art treasures in Japan. Students continued to gather at his Berkeley home on Ellsworth Avenue to study painting.

Their studio on Telegraph Avenue was voted a landmark in 2009 by the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission.

“As most of us in California know, the need for uncovering Japanese-American history—the reason it is hidden in our communities—is that the U.S. government made a heinous error in the anxious time at the onset of World War II,” social historian Donna Graves told The Berkeley Daily Planet. Graves nominated the Obata Studio for landmark status, “Federal policy dictated that people of Japanese descent, whether they were American citizens or not, were forced to leave their communities, homes, and businesses in the spring of 1942 and incarcerated in remote concentration camps behind barbed wire and under armed guard. This act, which was not perpetrated on people of German or Italian descent, irreparably harmed communities that Japanese-Americans had built in cities like Berkeley and across California. This is a story we Americans must remember, and it is part of what inspired the landmark application.”

Graves heads Preserving California’s Japantowns, a statewide survey of pre-World War II Japanese-American historic resources. Funded by the California State Libraries, the project has identified hundreds of locations in nearly 50 cities from San Diego to Marysville.

For more information on the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley, to plan a visit there, or to find out about classes and plant sales, visit the web site

To see any photo in this article full size, click on the image. Unless otherwise noted in captions, photos are by K.T. Cannon-Eger. Please be nice and do not copy without permission and attribution.

Comments are welcome. All comments will be read and approved before they appear.



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