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Master Gardener: Growing a community garden in Tiburon
Jeanne Price, UC Master Gardener
Blackie, a retired Calvary and rodeo cutting horse, stood in his Tiburon pasture for 28 years, until his death in 1966. During his retirement local children loved to feed him carrots and sugar cubes. The land became a mud hole in winter and a dust bowl in summer. Attempts to improve the site by the town went unfunded. Then local citizens, tired of waiting, formed Blackie’s Brigade determined to make the site into a real pasture.With volunteer labor, grants and private contributions this was done over a period of about three years. However, a fifth-of-an-acre strip of land lay between the town’s bike path and the road to the Sanitary District, in which to plant a garden. Tiburon resident Ruth Lese fell in love with Blackie’s Pasture on her daily walks. When she passed away her children provided the seed money for a garden in her memory. The town now needed someone to make it happen.
Enter Master Gardener Harvey Rogers of Belvedere. In 1995, he expressed an interest in working on the project and became its heart and soul. Engaging Marin Master Gardeners and other gardening enthusiasts, he organized them to plant, upgrade, irrigate and tend what you see today. Rogers wanted the garden to showcase native plants and water conservation. He looked for plants that were long-lived, provided color for many months, weren’t thirsty, didn’t need much fertilizer or pesticides – in a word, low maintenance.
Today more than 2,500 native plants – native to our Mediterranean climate – in a variety of colors and largely drought tolerant are the fruition of his vision. The garden is cared for by volunteers, with 80 percent of the labor donated by Marin Master Gardeners and 20 percent by others. It is now funded by the town of Tiburon, the city of Belvedere, the Belvedere Community Foundation and the Tiburon Peninsula Foundation.