primordial tree fern dell in golden gate park

Here’s a great blog entry from landscape historian Heath Massey. It appeared May 27 in her blog “Views from the Thicket.”

golden gate park: views from the thicket

tree fern dell sketch Tree Fern Dell in Golden Gate Park (sketch by Heath Massey)

The shady Tree Fern Dell in Golden Gate Park is so different in mood from the sunny, flower-filled Conservatory Valley on the other side of JFK Drive.  But this jungly dell well represents the flip side of the Victorian sensibility, a fascination with the exotic and the primordial, with far-flung adventure and voyages of exploration, places where evolution took a different course.

The historic origins of this collection are somewhat murky;  it seems likely that it grew over time, under the direction of John McLaren, perhaps enhanced by planting from the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915 and further amended in 1939 in when the Conservatory Valley was redesigned.

Most of the trees in this grove are Tasmanian tree ferns (Dicksonia antarctica),  native to Tasmania as well as Eastern Australia (from Queensland south to Victoria).  According to the Encyclopedia Britannica:  “Tree ferns have a lengthy fossil record stretching back to the Triassic Period (251 to…

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Tommy Tomato: The Early Days

In 2013, after previous unsuccessful attempts to raise tomatoes in our chilly and often fog-draped San Francisco yard, we decided to utilize “greenhouse” effects and try to grow a plant indoors. The plant, whom we called Tommy Tomato, succeeded wildly. He lived almost a year and bore fruit numerous times.

In Tommy’s early weeks, we would move him from the front to the back of the house, following the sun during the day. In the back sunroom he would sit happily on a little picnic table by the window, often tented within sheer curtains, supported by a split pair of chopsticks. He was fun and easy to photograph when he was this size. (Later he would grow to well over five feet tall and become hard to isolate in a shot.)

The photos here are from the early weeks of Tommy Tomato Plant. We miss you, Tommy. So do our salads.