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From the Director

Michael McKechnieExecutive Director Michael McKechnie
By building partnerships among diverse organizations, focusing on creative programming, and establishing the right priorities, Executive Director Michael McKechnie has managed the successful growth of four vital nonprofits and served on the governing boards of a number of research, fundraising and civic organizations where he has provided governance, financial, and strategic planning oversight.

New Generations of Tree Canopy

Dear Friends,

Abies numidica by Eric Hunt
Abies numidica, Cupressus macrocarpa, Cryptomeria japonica 'Araucarioides'; photo by Eric Hunt

Maytenus boaria by Eric Hunt
Maytenus boaria; photo by Eric Hunt

The tree canopy of the Botanical Garden is reaching the end of its life. Planted in the late 19th century to stabilize the shifting dunes that once blanketed Golden Gate Park, virtually all of the remaining trees have greatly outlived others of their species (Cupressus macrocarpa, Pinus radiata, and Eucalyptus globulus) living in the rockier drier habitats along the Northern California coast.

Each year the Botanical Garden loses, on average, five of these magnificent giants to wind or disease. Not only is their spectacular canopy slowly vanishing, the species that comprise it are no longer immune to a range of diseases. So planting the same species is not advisable.

How then to provide cover for the shade-lovers in the Garden, windbreak to shelter the collection and its visitors, and tree-top-ringed gardens to inspire the soul? The Botanical Garden Society with funding from a Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust grant has established a multi-decade Tree Canopy Succession Plan that will address all of these issues plus provide canopy that is in keeping with the collections it protects.

This variety will provide a living laboratory for experimentation and collections advancement. It will provide for ongoing course corrections as we learn which trees are most successful in this habitat. And it will inform local gardeners about which trees will flourish in San Francisco.

Under the direction of the SFBG curators, a team lead by Jason Dewees of Flora Grubb Gardens has conducted an exhaustive survey of existing trees and integrated that with the Master Plan for the Botanical Garden. This plan will assure that the unique beauty of this living museum will be around for many decades to come.

Warm best wishes,


Michael McKechnie
Executive Director, San Francisco Botanical Garden Society


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