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From the Executive Director

Dear Friends,

From Garden Feast 2007: John and Carolyn Jessup, Anita Marmaduke and Pearl Anne and Ed Seipp.
The entrance of the garden. It is being shifted from the left side to where the current garden sign is located.

From Garden Feast 2007: Lisa Goldman, Michael Barcun, Richard Goldman and Ellen Newman (left to right).
A brand new stream bed and walls are going in too!! This used to be a trickle of a stream with hardly any flow of water.

From Garden Feast 2007: Lisa Goldman, Michael Barcun, Richard Goldman and Ellen Newman (left to right).
Sections of the old boardwalk have been removed to allow for a bobcat to move in and around the garden. The large sections both to the right and the left will be where the new interpretive bumpouts will be located. Yards of soil are being added and you can catch a glimpse of the old interpretive signs that are being completely redone.

From Garden Feast 2007: Lisa Goldman, Michael Barcun, Richard Goldman and Ellen Newman (left to right).
Garden designer Davis Dalbok is not afraid to get his hands dirty while placing new rocks that will be the cornerstone of the Cycad planting.

I just returned to my office from a short hike out to the Ancient (née Primitive) Plant Garden construction site. Wow!! Great mounds of soil are shifting into place and truly awesome tree ferns and giant cycads are in the ground or waiting in the wings. A new rivulet and two new pools have been constructed, improving the drainage of this once too-soggy site.

Owing to the genius of Dr. Nan Arens, a paleobotanist from Hobart & William Smith Colleges, the site has been divided into five epochs of geological time: the Devonian, the Pennsylvanian, the Jurassic, the Early Cretaceous, and the Eocene, a sequence that Dr. Arens believes will provide the best storyline for the early evolution of plants on Earth. Pond scum, the chief flora of the Devonian, may not immediately capture the imagination, but for untold millions of years it developed slowly into the plants in this unique garden, and into all of the plants we now enjoy and depend on.

As our planet struggles with the burdens of pollution and climate change, it is important to know how many hundreds of millions of years it took for plants -- and animals -- to develop into their current stage and how long it might take for Earth to recover if we are not careful.

Gloomy predictions aside, the Ancient Plant Garden will certainly be a fantastic place to visit with your children and grandchildren. Visitors of all ages can marvel and learn about early plant development, while the younger ones wonder if there just might be a Tyrannosaurus Rex around the next bend.

Our plan is to have the heavy machinery out of the Ancient Plant Garden by Garden Feast on September 10, with a dedication ceremony to follow in October. Already, we have many people to thank for the success of this project: the Thomas Rohlen Family for providing the significant gift to make the project flower; Living Green owner Davis Dalbok and the talented Tim O'Shea, who are providing their design skills pro bono; and Jason Martinez, the now famous City gardener who is also largely responsible for bringing us the Rhododendron Garden and the Garden of Fragrance. American Soil and Stone Products, Inc. have been extremely generous with in-kind donations of truly fantastic soil and handsome boulders. Landscape contractors Rock & Rose + Birkmeyer are moving through the construction phase in record time. The San Francisco City carpenters dove into this project and provided top-notch work in restoring and expanding the boardwalk that will transport visitors through geological time.

To all of them and more, thank you. To our readers, please come and see this masterful garden for yourselves, and bring someone along who might imagine dinosaurs walking among the enormous tree ferns and pre-historic foliage.

With warm best regards,


Michael McKechnie
Executive Director, San Francisco Botanical Garden Society


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