Come join us and help plant pollinator habitat!

We’ll be gathering Saturday, March 12th at 10 AM in front of Whole Foods – Market Street to plant drought tolerant pollinator habitat at the Dolores St. Pollinator Blvd. We’ll be digging around in the mulch and planting colorful shrubs and perennials. If you’re in a rush, stop by to throw some Seedles. All tools will be provided by SF Public Works and snacks will be provided by Whole Foods Market – Market Street.

All are welcome. We hope to see you there!


What: Community Planting Day

When: Saturday, March 12, 10 am

Time: 10am – 3pm

Where: The median outside of Whole Foods Market – Market Street at 2001 Market Street, San Francisco.

What to Bring: Friends, gardening or work gloves if you have them



*Dolores Street Pollinator Blvd is part of Street Parks, a land stewardship program co-managed by Public Works and Parks Alliance that works with community members to convert City-owned parcels into green open space, verdant gardens, wildlife habitat, neighborhood gathering spaces, and more.


“A picture of pieces is not a technical definition of ‘collage’ or ‘Cubism’ to be sure, but suggests of a whole range of artistic engagement that attempts, by some kind of reordering, to tell a different story of the world than The One That Is.” – Phil Henry

I have many binders full of paper scraps of all kinds – magazine clippings, album liner notes, color samples, campaign stickers, postcards, you name it. For the most part the binders sit on the shelf and I add to them on a regular basis. But occasionally I take them them down and spread the papers all over the floor to begin a collage. Inspiration comes by way of sifting, sorting, absorbing, and reordering until the kernel of a theme takes shape. It is a free and unscripted process, but somewhere along the way a narrative forms. Detritus becomes desideratum.

Collage is an optimistic process of creation that sidesteps linear thought. It helps us relate incongruent things to one another. Through collage, suddenly fashion meets horticulture, cuisine meets car commercials, dissimilar cultures see eye to eye over a similar color palette. Elements of natural and designed landscapes disproportionately catch my eye, but I often try to populate a scene with snippets from advertising or pop culture perhaps as a way of asking “what if?”.

What if? Those two words may be the most potent guardian of the youthful creativity that lives in all of us. As landscape architects and designers, we hope to inspire this way of thinking, and collage is the perfect medium to do so. In the age of Pinterest and other digital media, this process can often get lost when we perform search queries for what we think we want. In contrast, we at BASE think it is essential to work with our hands and occasionally let our narrative reveal itself toward the World That Could Be. I hope you enjoy these collage exercises; I certainly enjoyed making them.


BASE is thrilled to announce that The Redd on Salmon Street has won first prize at the 2015 SXSW Eco Conference!  As the landscape architects on the project, we are proud to be among the innovators driving economic, environmental, and social change. Congratulations to Ecotrust and the the stellar teams at Opsis Architecture, and all the other collaborators on this project. Please follow the links to read more about this unique venture and see the inspiring work of all the finalists.

And for those in the Portland region, please join us on October 23rd from 4-9pm at The Redd campus on SE9th and Salmon for the Mill & Grill party. In addition to live music and wild sockeye salmon barbecue by Iliamna Fish Co., there will be beer from Rogue Brewery, pumpkin carving, and soda by Hot Lips Pizza. But best of all, there will be an on-site demonstration of cedar log and lumber milling by Coquille Indian Tribe members, who are bringing the logs from their Sek-wet-se forest to serve as beams and siding in rebuilding the Redd Foundry building.



We are excited to share that our Bee Safe research has been featured in WLA Magazine!

The Bee Safe campaign was chosen as one of 16 research projects featured in the 21st edition of WLA Magazine, an online magazine by World Landscape Architecture. This issue, entitled Research and Policy, showcases studies and research by landscape architects on a wide range of topics from saving bees to sea change and rethinking dying shopping streets.

Check out the pages on the Bee Safe campaign below and the full issue of WLA21 here.








In our ongoing efforts to learn and educate on the topic of pollinator health, our own Patricia and Sutter made a special trip to Xera Plants ( in Portland to speak with co-owner Greg Shepherd about their pledge to use integrated pest management instead of harmful chemicals in the production of their crops. Xera is a wholesale grower and micro-retail outlet specializing in drought-resistant plants for the Pacific Northwest. By focusing on flexibility in their growing methods, Greg and the Xera team do not rely on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, and they have made a larger commitment to the health of pollinators & beneficial insects by going entirely free of systemic pesticides as a whole.


The nursery is surprisingly quiet about their no neo-nic pledge. We did not find any signage at the retail outlet, though other retailers in Portland (such as Garden Fever) sing their praises.

2015-02-16 16.59.15


Greg pointed out that Xera’s hands-on methods of IPM are more labor-intensive than most large growers might be able to afford, but that Xera has seen the economic benefits of not falling into an endless cycle of chemical dependency. “The less you spray, the less you have to spray. Our view as a grower is to limit the plants that require a lot of chemical treatments of any type, specifically neonicotinoids.”



Speaking to the types of plants that Xera grows (and grows very well…), Greg remarked that it takes vigilance to identify species that can be hosts of undesirable pests. “There are other ways to treat besides spraying. For instance, black aphids kept getting our sedums this spring, so we decided to take a break on sedums for a while. After a couple months, the weather cycle changed, the population diminished. Gone. Crop clean. So you have to wait sometimes or cut things back and let them regrow.”



But the last word has to be this: “We bring our dogs to work…A lot of attention has been on neonics, but you have to look at fungicide use, growth regulators, etc., so neonics are the start of it … but it’s not worth having a toxic environment.” Many thanks to Greg Shepherd and the entire Xera Plants team for being at the forefront of this movement. Keep up the good work!



Here is a link to the entire audio of our interview:

The Dolores Street Pollinator Boulevard is officially underway!

Come join us and help build pollinator habitat!

We’ll be laying down sheet mulch to rid the median of weeds and any lingering grass seed while creating nutrient rich soil. The sheet mulch will work its magic for about 6 months before we host another community volunteer day to add the new plants.


*Dolores Street Pollinator Blvd is part of Street Parks, a land stewardship program co-managed by Public Works and Parks Alliance that works with community members to convert City-owned parcels into green open space, verdant gardens, wildlife habitat, neighborhood gathering spaces, and more.

Summer is here! And for many, that means tons of fun, sun, and relaxation. Summer is an exciting time here at BASE, too. It’s the time for CONSTRUCTION. While kids are off having their summer fun, their schools are often receiving improvements. This summer, we have three different school improvement projects underway:

Aptos Middle School

This project is part of the San Francisco Unified School District’s (SFUD) Schoolyard Greening Program. Thus far, existing asphalt has been selectively cut to make way for planter boxes which will double as seating elements. A mock-up of the planter boxes has been complete. Eucalyptus logs are on site and will soon be stripped of their bark, stained, and secured to act as additional seating. Orange spray paint lines depict the outlines for what will become a painted asphalt pattern. We are anticipating project completion in early August – just in time for the beginning of the Fall semester.

Aptos Middle School - Planter Mockup

Aptos Middle School - Cut Asphalt

Aptos Middle School - Logs

Herbert Hoover Middle School

This an another space being transformed as part of the SFUSD’s Schoolyard Greening Program. Base aggregate has been laid to receive unit pavers in what will become an outdoor classroom space. Planting areas have been laid out and will soon be constructed from beautiful 12×12″ redwood lumber. Irrigation and hose bibs have gone in. We just reviewed one of the log mock-ups and can’t wait to see the rest of them in place.

Hoover Middle School - Planter Layout

Hoover Middle School - Log Placement

Hoover Middle School - Logs

Bullis Elementary School

This summer at Gardner Bullis Elementary School in Los Altos Hills, CA, BASE added a new gathering space centered around a large Oak shade tree where students can lounge and socialize on wood benches, basalt column benches, giant pebbles, and cushy synthetic turf. Near the school drop-off area, we added a new decomposed granite path and a series of benches for parents to wait for their children after school. Throughout the campus we added lots of new drought tolerant and low water use planting.

We just did our final walk-through earlier this week, so everything is ready to go when students return to campus this Fall.

Bullis Elementary - Shade Tree


Bullis Elementary - Front

Bullis Elementary - Bench Detail


Check out the improvements we made to Bullis Elementary last summer. The planting is looking great after a year of growth:

Bullis Elementary - planting




written by Alison Malouf

Photo Feb 21, 12 19 49 PM

whimh_logo_smallThe grassy islands that divide Dolores Street are one of the most visible casualties of San Francisco’s drought. Last October, Patricia noticed withered brown patches spreading through the once lush medians, the result of the city staunching their sprinklers in an effort to conserve water. The solution seemed obvious – to tear out the thirsty turf and populate the medians with plants that have evolved to thrive under drier conditions. Vivid California Poppies, Sages, spiky Spider Aloe, and other bright, drought tolerant, and pollinator friendly plants can create a much needed habitat for our bees. The pollinators, essential to the reproductive cycle of a third of our food crops, can take advantage of the continuous ribbon of Dolores Street as a pesticide-free urban garden sheltered from the heavy pesticide use on agricultural lands. As mono-culture farming and careless use of pesticides make agricultural habitats less hospitable to pollinators, cities have the potential to play a valuable role in their conservation. We believe every garden/open space in the urban environment should be a pollinator haven!


When Patricia reached out to the city with this idea, she was met with an enthusiastic expression of interest and a couple of caveats. First, the city, while excited by the proposal, was unable to fund the project. Second, Patricia would need to secure the neighborhood’s support. Starting at the northern end of Dolores, she approached Prado Group, the developers and management of the new 38 Dolores building, and Whole Foods. She found them eager to contribute to a lively new median through partial funding and future maintenance. Support from the Mission Dolores Neighborhood Association (MDNA) followed only after the commitments of Prado Group and Whole Foods were enshrined in writing and the design had been approved by a historic consultant. The median is in the process of becoming a historic landmark, but it was determined that its historic character will not be compromised as long as the iconic palms remain untouched.


MDNA also expressed concern that the gathering places featured in the original design would change the medians from stately, distant oases to congested satellites of Dolores Park, so the design was modified to fully blanket the median in flowers. Finally, Patricia set up an information booth at Whole Foods and hosted a community meeting at 38 Dolores to supply information and answer questions about the project. The community members who stopped to talk to her showed their excitement by providing signatures, letters of support and willingness to volunteer on the project. We submitted these to the San Francisco Department of Public Works, and we are thrilled to announce that the proposal has been approved and we will begin work on the pollinator garden at Market & Dolores this summer!150624 - Planting Plan_Page_1Planting Plan-2Bloom Chart

The design is done, with low water, pollinator friendly plants carefully chosen to bloom in an unbroken relay all year long. The next step is to tear up the old turf and lay down sheet mulch. Sheet mulch is a permaculture technique to build soils rich in organic matter and control extremely weedy areas. Layers of nitrogen and carbon rich materials are spread over the soil, breaking down naturally over time and creating nutritious soil without the addition of commercial fertilizers. It is also a natural way to eradicate weeds, vital at a site like this where the turf has been established for decades and filled the soil with its seeds. The sheet mulch will sit for six months to suppress any lingering grass seed and condition the soil to receive the new plants in December. Several community members have generously offered to help prepare the median for planting. Prado Group will fund the turf removal, BayView Green Waste will provide the mulch, and Whole Foods will donate cardboard for the mulching and dedicate one of their quarterly 5% days to fund the purchase of boulders, signage, and some low protection for the area.

But there is still more to do! In August, we will apply for an SF Community Challenge Grant to cover the cost of plants. Fingers crossed by October we will receive the grant to purchase all the plants that we need.

We’re starting small, with the first block of Dolores at Market Street, but we’re dreaming big!!! We imagine the barren strips that run the rest of Dolores’ length frothing with plants and pollinators, a network of gardens wriggling its way over and through the San Francisco hills to wash the streets in sweet scents and shifting colors. We want this pollinator boulevard to become San Francisco’s pollinator neighborhood, connected to the new pollinator garden at Dolores Park and to all the school and church gardens along Dolores. We’d love your help – please feel free to contact us if you would like more information, or to be a part of this project!

Work Plan

Jepson Bee Workshop

I had the great honor to be invited to the Jepson Herbarium native bee workshop hosted by the Urban bee lab at UC Berkeley. The event took place at the UC Hastings reserve nested deep in Carmel Valley. The workshop had attendance from all over the United States, and even someone from Australia and New Zealand. Most people were entomology researchers, and some museum docents. Photo Jun 07, 9 38 24 AM

The setting was not only magnificent to enjoy but it is also one of the areas with the highest diversity of native bees. About 400 different species can be found there. Keep in mind that there is an  estimated 20,000 different species of bees in the world. California has about 1600. Identifying this bees is no easy task, I learned. But it is important work to keep track of the health of the species.
Photo Jun 06, 1 42 53 PM
The workshop focused on learning to identify native bees and looking at which bees are attracted to which plants. This is helpful to understand what plants to use to support pollination in agriculture and healthy bee diversity. Our time there included lots of lectures about bee identification and the different research that the legendary Dr. Robbin ThorpDr. Frankie, Jamie and Sara are doing at the UCB bee lab. There was also a lecture on how to photograph bees up close by Rollin Coville. I was especially excited about that lecture because it gave me a good excuse to buy a macro lens that I have been dreaming about for years. We spend a lot of time in the lab looking at bees under the microscope but also a lot of time in the field observing and collecting bees.
Photo Jun 04, 4 04 45 PM
It became very apparent to me that this group of bee entomologist had low tolerance for anything non scientific. I asked about the healing properties of native bee venom compared with honey bees and got a what-are-you-talking-about-there-is-no-scientific-proof-for that response. So, for the most part, I kept my spiritual connection to the bees to myself. But I did share some of my apiteraphy success experiences and some people were interested on hearing my “non-scientific” bee stories.
Photo Jun 06, 9 48 17 AM
During out five day workshop, we were guided through the scientific process that they have developed to asses the population of native bees. We placed traps with with soapy water on different color plates in the field at 8′ intervals, and came back to collect the bees after 4 hours.
Photo Jun 05, 9 52 46 AM
We also collected bees with nets in specific plants. One of the research that they are doing is bee/plant relationship, looking at which bees are attracted to which plants.
Photo Jun 04, 3 01 00 PM
We then took those bees back to the lab, most of them were already dead but to be sure they were placed in jars with ethyl acetate/nail polish remover. We then placed them in a tea ball and dried them up with a hair drier to get their hair and wings all fluffy again. high tech!
Photo Jun 05, 3 45 35 PM
Then, the hardest part, pinning the bees. We had to careful insert a pin in the abdomen of the bees and place them with the wings, legs, antenna, etc. extended so they can dry up like that and be identified.
Photo Jun 05, 4 59 23 PM
We specified which bees were found at which plants and line them up so they can keep track. I gather all my bravery to do this work, in the name of science! This was hard enough for me and then one of the bees that I pinned started coming back to life and was moving on the pin. I was terrified. They took the bee away from me and put it on the freezer to make sure it died. They tried to convince me that since bees have no brains they feel no pain. Nice try! I was done pinning bees. There was no sharing circle or any other outlet to express my feelings and emotions with this group of scientist so I just went on a walk and waited outside until happy hour. I needed a drink!
Photo Jun 06, 10 40 50 AM
However looking at the bees under the microscope is really fascinating!!! They are so incredibly beautiful and colorful. Native bees come in all colors, amazing metallic blues and greens, bright yellows, orange, black. They have iridescent wings that go from pink to purples to oranges. They have 3 third eyes! National Geographic did an amazing story called Intimate portrait of bees that show some of this amazing bees up close. Looking at the bees under the microscope kind of reminded me of diving and being suspended in another reality seeing incredibly beautiful creatures. As I looked at them, I kept wondering how do we look to them through those big and tiny eyes.

Photography by Sam Droege, USGS

 Out in the field we collected nectar from different flowers to measure the sucrose level, this gives us more information on why different bees are attracted to different flowers. We can also see how some flowers release all the nectar and pollen at once while others do it at intervals throughout the day or at a certain day after opening.
Photo Jun 05, 10 24 02 AM
The flowers get covered with a paper bag early in the day so the bees can not take the nectar. We then remove flower petals gently to reveal nectar at the base of the flowers and we collect the nectar from the flower using a microcapillary pipette. The nectar is then released onto the prismatic surface of a pocket refractometer and with that we get the sucrose results. It was not as easy as it sounds….
Photo Jun 05, 10 37 44 AM
Turns out pollination is not just bees going from flower, it is a lot more complicated than that. Pollination is a multifaceted, complex relationship between an enormous diversity of plants and animals. And not all bee pollination happens in the same way, some bees carry pollen on their legs, soma carry it on their bellies, and some bees vibrate as they approach the flowers to release the pollen.
The Clarkia unguiculata  is one of such flowers. It has eight long stamens, the outer four of which have large red anthers. The stigma protrudes from the flower and can be quite large. It also moves as the days progress as you can see on the picture above. On the first day the stigma is low but by the second day the stigma curves up. A specific type of native bee is attracted to this flower, it lands on the flower and it vibrates onto the stigma, the vibration releases the pollen from the four outer anthers. Once the pollen gets released other bees, such as this bumble bee can collect it and move it around. There it was, in front of us, the oldest love affair in the planet, pollination.
IMG_8212I realized that the beauty of this phenomena, weather we see it trough a scientific or a spiritual lens, is our
ability to witness the magic of it. Life happening, transforming, unfolding in front of our eyes.
Photo Jun 07, 9 57 15 AM
In deep gratitude to the Berkeley bee lab team for inviting me to this exciting week filled with bees, science and magic! With honey in my heart!

“Life without wonder is not worth living.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel

ASLA-NCC has announced their 2015 Awards Recipients.

We are excited to announce that BASE has received an Honor Award in the Research, Planning, Analysis, and Communication Category for our work on the El Monte Urban Agriculture Initiative and a Merit Award in the Parks, Recreation, Trails, and Open Space Category for our work on the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County!

Congratulations to all who were recognized!

El Monte Urban Agriculture Initiative

El Monte


NCC-ASLA - Merit Award - El Monte - website


Children’s Museum of Sonoma County

CMOSCNCC-ASLA - Honor Award - CMOSC - website