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Gavilan’s Inviting, Living Classrooms By Jan Janes NEWLY INSTALLED NATIVE GARDEN THRIVES Keeping the Williams tradition alive, a new native garden has been planted. With guidance from instructors, students worked this past year to clear an area on the east side of the Life Science building. Drip irrigation was installed, then covered with mulch. A variety of California plants were planted and labeled, illustrating the variety of native specimens. Adjacent to the garden, planter boxes line the slopeside trees, the contents of bins with varying levels of composted material are turned, and mounded beds hold an array of pots nurturing plant and tree starts. Instructors use the area for formal classes, students test their experiments and the area attracts local wildlife. A Western swallowtail butterfly (papilio rutulus) finds nectar in the native gardens. T IMAGINE A MEADOW INSTEAD OF A LAWN ucked into the eastern edge of the Santa Cruz coast range, its trees almost obscuring its buildings from sight along Highway 101, the Gavilan College main campus enjoys a pastoral setting that embraces its surroundings and nurtures native wildlife. Wild turkeys raise their young, swallows arrive in the spring, bales of turtles share the ponds with ducks, deer wander down from the hills to graze. The campus offers a living laboratory in which students observe, learn and inter- act while studying life sciences. The park-like setting is also a haven for the community’s early morning runners and evening dog-walkers. The original landscape was designed and planted by Watsonville grower Ray Williams in the mid 1960s as the new campus was constructed. He chose native and drought tolerant trees and plants that would thrive in California’s dry summer, Mediterranean-type climate. Chile, South Africa and parts of Australia share similar climates, and he propagated plants from those regions. Mature trees originally planted by Williams can be seen adjacent to classrooms and walkways throughout campus. They are labeled with small signs indicating the year of planting, scientific and common names, family and geographic origin. The Gavilan College Arboretum opened in 2013 and was renamed The Ray Williams Arboretum at Gavilan College in 2014 to honor the landscaper whose vision continues to grow. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN Just beyond the new native garden, a four foot orange web of fencing rose along walkways this spring. Delineating slightly less than an acre of land, the existing grassy slopes between the lower pond and the Life Science building will be replaced with native grasses and plants. The turf grass has been sprayed, mulched, then the sprinklers turned off through Gilroy’s hot, dry summer, which will prepare the site for meadow plants. Designed by land- scape architect Tanaka Design Group and John Greenlee, an expert in grass and sedge design, the area will be planted with native grasses and plants in the fall, in tandem with the rainy season and participation with students. A sampling of plants in the meadow design includes Artemisia californica, Ceanothus maritimus, Lupinus albinfrons, Lavandula canariensis, Ribes malvaceum and Juncus patens. Once established, the meadow will thrive with seasonal rainfall . THE TRADITION CONTINUES From the beginning, a landscape of sustainable plants and trees shaped the Gavilan College campus. Almost 50 years later, the current faculty and students still follow the footsteps of plantsman Ray Williams, expanding the ecosystem and outdoor, living classrooms. For a map and listing of trees in the Ray Williams Gavilan College Arboretum, go to http://www.gavilan.edu/ arboretum/ SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 gmhtoday.com 39