CSU, Chico News

Arboretum Tours Offered May 1

Date: 04-22-2014

Joe Wills
Public Affairs

CSU, Chico and Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park are jointly offering a free tour of their remarkable collection of native and exotic trees and shrubs on Thursday, May 1. The tour meets at 9:30 a.m. in front of the visitor center of the mansion; parking is free.

The two-hour walking tour will show 25 to 30 of the most interesting and historic specimens that are at their prime now. For example, the striking Southern magnolia in front of the mansion was planted by John Bidwell in

1863 in preparation for the actual building of the mansion several years later. Most of the landscaping went in soon after Annie arrived in 1868.

The huge tulip and ginkgo trees were planted nearby along with many others. Along Chico Creek, bordering Sowilleno Avenue, they planted a row of American chestnuts in 1870 and record in their diary that they harvested the first crop in 1880; six of these remain in front of Holt Hall. From the back door of the mansion, a double row of California incense cedars was planted along Mansion Avenue extending to the railroad tracks; a half dozen of these still exist. Other "Bidwell" trees include the European lindens in front of Butte Hall and several white and water oaks from eastern United States.

Several of the most recent additions to the arboretum include dawn redwood, tupelo, Persian oak, Chinese lacebark and two kinds of colorful maple hybrids. A map and guide, "Campus Trees," that shows the locations of these and over 200 other plants is available from the Department of Biology office in Holt Hall.

The trip leaders will discuss current horticultural practices as well as make suggestions as to the selection of trees appropriate for Chico.

Participants are welcome to bring leaves or flowers for identification as well as discuss insect and disease problems.

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

Leaders of the tours will be Mike Alonzo, manager of grounds; Emeritus Professor Wes Dempsey; and Gerry Ingco, retired U.S. Forest Service and California State Parks ranger.