CSU, Chico News

Campus/Bidwell Mansion Arboretum Tours in October, November

Date: 09-22-2008

Joe Wills
Public Affairs
Durbin Sayers
Facilities Management and Services

California State University, Chico and Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park are jointly offering four tours of their remarkable collection of native and exotic trees and shrubs this fall, Oct. 7 and 21 and Nov. 4 and 18. The easy and informative walks will begin at the gazebo in front of Bidwell Mansion Tuesdays at 10 a.m. and last until 11:30 a.m.

Each tour will cover a different group of 20-30 plants on the mansion and university grounds and will be led by horticulturists and botanists from CSU, Chico. Included will be the magnificent southern magnolia located in front of the mansion, planted by General Bidwell in 1863 preparatory to the building of the mansion some years later. South of the mansion, along Sowilleno Avenue, the Bidwells planted American chestnuts, some of which remain and still produce delicious nuts. Other noteworthy specimens are monkey puzzle tree (from Chile), bunya bunya (from Australia), dawn redwood (from China), and water oak (southern U.S.).

Along the south side of Chico Creek, Bidwell planted various oaks that still survive. In 1887, when the State Normal School was established in Chico, California incense cedars and London planes (sycamores) were planted on the west and south sides of the original administration building; a half dozen of these remain, including the striking plane tree in front of Kendall Hall, sometimes referred to as the “Founders’ Tree.”

Recent tree plantings include red chestnut, black tupelo (sour gum), cutleaf zelkova and many others. Unusual old shrubs include several in front of the mansion: cockspur coral from Brazil, a white-flowered magnolia from China, and strawberry bush from southern France.

The trip leaders will discuss current horticultural and pruning practices as well as make suggestions about selection of plants for Chico yards. Participants are encouraged to bring leaves from plants they wish to have identified or talk about problems they are having with insects or diseases.

Available at the Bidwell Mansion Visitor Information Center is a map and guide to the mansion and the university trees and shrubs titled “Campus Trees.” Also available is a map and guide to the Campus Creekside Nature Walk. These can be purchased at the campus bookstore and at the office of the Department of Biological Sciences in Holt Hall.

Further information about the tours can be obtained from the Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park at 895-6144 or from the University at 898-6222. Leaders of the tours will be Durbin Sayers, Manager of Grounds, and Wes Dempsey, Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences.