CSU, Chico News

Fall Arboretum Tours

Date: 10-07-2010

Joe Wills
Public Affairs

Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park and CSU, Chico are jointly offering four tours of their remarkable collection of native and exotic trees and shrubs this fall, beginning on Friday, Oct. 22, again on Nov. 5 and 19, and finally on Dec. 3. The easy and informative walks will meet at the gazebo in front of Bidwell Mansion Fridays at 10 a.m. and last until 11:30 a.m. Parking is available.

Each tour will cover a different group of 20-30 trees on the mansion and university grounds and will be led by horticulturists and botanists from the University. Included will be the magnificent southern magnolia, located in front of the mansion, which was 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 still remain and still produce delicious nuts. Other noteworthy specimens to be seen are monkey puzzle tree (from Chile), cockspur coral (Brazil), dawn redwood (China) and water oak (southern US).

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 few of these remain, including the striking plane tree in front of Kendall Hall, recently recognized as the “Founders Tree.”

Recent tree plantings include red horsechestnut, 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 a strawberry bush from southern France.

The trip leaders will discuss current horticultural and pruning practices as well as make suggestions as to selection of plants for Chico yards. They will also demonstrate how to plant young trees, including selection of varieties, choosing a site and soil preparation. Participants are encouraged to bring in leaves from plants they wish to have identified or talk about problems they are having with insects or diseases.

A map and guide to the mansion and the university trees and shrubs titled “Campus Trees” is available at the Mansion Information Center along with a map and guide to the “Campus Creekside Nature Walk.” These can also 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; Wes Dempsey, professor emeritus of biology; and Gerry Ingco, retired USFS and California Parks ranger.