CSU, Chico News

Fall Campus/Bidwell Mansion Arboretum Tours Begin October 20

Date: 09-30-2009

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs
Wes Dempsey

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. 20, Nov. 3 and 17, and Dec. 1. 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.

“We will look at some trees from the southeastern United States,” said Wes Dempsey, professor emeritus of Biological Sciences, who will be one of the biologists leading the first tour. “There is 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, and another magnolia on the lawn in front of Kendall Hall. There is also a tulip tree nearby and a Bald Cypress in front of Butte Hall.”

One of the fall tours will also include various oaks that Bidwell planted on the south side of Chico Creek that still survive. Also on one of the tours will be the surviving incense cedars and London planes (sycamores) that were planted in 1877, at the time the Normal School was established. One of the trees that survives is the large plane tree in front of Kendall Hall, now officially referred to as the “Founders’ Tree.”

The trip leaders, which include Manager of Grounds Durbin Sayers, 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.

Hal Mackey, an expert on plants native to the southern United States, and Gerry Ingco, a forester retired from the National Forest Service, will be assisting Sayers and Dempsey with the tours.

Further information about the tours can be obtained from the Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park at 530-895-6144 or from the University at 530-898-6222.