The volunteer group Friends of Jensen Botanical Garden was asked by the Carmichael Recreation and Park District to restore/rejuvenate Charles C. Jensen Botanical Garden and since January 2004, when FJBG went into action, the volunteers have logged more than 6,051 hours clearing ivy, privets and bramble, replanting existing beds, adding a few new beds, installing 11 new metal benches and two wheelchair accessible picnic tables. Since December 2005, they have planted more than 6,000 tulip bulbs.
In 2013 FJBG will switch from development to maintenance mode, say volunteers. The primary tasks will be mulching, pruning, weeding and always planting more tulips.
Instead of the previous years’ monthly work days, FJBG will host quarterly work days on the second Saturday in March, June, September and December. A fund raising plant sale will be held on the last Saturday in March. The annual October plant sale is canceled. All funds raised/donated are used strictly in and for Jensen Garden.
Volunteer Pat Rhine said the reason for the cancellation is because gathering and nurturing plants to sell is a lot of work and the two people providing most of the plants for sale are minimally available beginning in 2013. Based on previous sales, the spring sale should cover the annual maintenance budget for fertilizer, replacement plants, deer repellent, tulips, and more.
To Rhine, Jensen Garden is “a peaceful, lovely place that many can enjoy.”
Rhine said there are 20 names on the volunteer list and anywhere from four to 12 people show up on a given work day. Several may show up randomly to pull weeds, etc. FJBG has an annual project list to keep things on track, which you can see on www.carmichaelpark.com/jensen.htm
Rhine said plants were chosen to augment what survived from Mr. Jensen’s time and to add to what CRPD has planted over the years. Then there’s the ‘wow’ factor of 6,000 tulips that compliment the design of each bed. Other plants are chosen for their yearlong color and others for their more tactile and fragrant attributes. All, in all, it goes back to keeping with the rustic tradition set by Mr. Jensen.
The History of Charles C. Jensen
According to the website, the 3-and- a-half-acre garden was, from 1958 until 1976, the property and master work of Charles C. Jensen. Shortly after his retirement as a produce buyer, Mr. and Mrs. Jensen moved from their home in Oakland to their property in Carmichael.
According to the website, they made many trips to Oakland to bring back plants and trees. The property already had Oaks and Coast Redwoods and blackberry brambles. He gradually cleared the brambles. Then he began planting the many Magnolias, Azaleas, Dogwoods and Japanese Maples, which were some of the first plants brought from Oakland. Hybridizing, grafting and acquiring new varieties of plants, he built a garden that caught the eye of passersby. He especially enjoyed showing visitors around his garden and opened it to parties and weddings. He also sold plants from his lath house that was located near the Coast Redwoods. Many of his neighbors built their gardens with plants from Mr. Jensen.
After his death, a group of friends and fellow garden club members formed the Charles C. Jensen Botanical Garden, Inc. Committee to preserve the garden. Their fund raising efforts were successful and the garden became the property of the Carmichael Recreation and Park District in 1976.
In January, 2004, the Carmichael Recreation and Park District called for volunteers to restore/rejuvenate the botanical garden. First that required removing knee deep ivy and unwanted tree seedlings. Each December, the Friends of Jensen Botanical Garden develops a project list for the coming year and works one Saturday a month to complete the projects. Every year one of the projects is to plant more tulips around the large Valley Oak at the entrance to the garden. Since most of the garden’s 19 beds are completed and will only require ongoing maintenance, future projects will focus on developing formal beds of California native plants in the undeveloped area immediately behind Jensen Garden.
According to the park’s website, the Carmichael Recreation and Park District recently opened a new feature to the garden. The Nature Path for the blind and visually impaired is open to the public. “By feeling the different textures and experiencing the unique fragrances of the various plants the pathway appeals to the visually impaired and those with physical challenges,” states the site. The project was inspired by a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Jacqueline Coffroth.
Planning meetings for the Friends of Jensen Botanical Garden take place the first Thursday of each month at 8516 Fair Oaks Boulevard, 7 pm. Anyone interested in participating in the care of this community resource is welcome to attend. Work days are held the Saturday following the planning meeting each month from 9 am to 1 pm.
Donations for the restoration of the garden may be made to CRPD, Attn: Jensen Garden. Funds donated for the garden will be limited to use at the garden and will not be used for other District programs or facilities. Donations of plants may be brought to any work day.
Here are a few basic rules for visitors: Stay on pathways, no amplified music, no bikes or sports activities allowed.
Jensen Garden is open from 8 a.m. to dusk, weather permitting, since the parking lot can flood. The garden is located at 8520 Fair Oaks Blvd., Carmichael. Photographers are required to buy a $15 photo permit at the District Office, 5750 Grant Ave., Carmichael.
For more information, visit www.carmichaelpark.com/jensen.htm