Springtime in the Basketry Garden

Artist, instructor, volunteer and friend Charlie Kennard brings us an update on one of Marin Art and Garden Center’s unique places.

In this time of seclusion, many people seek a little relief in nature. Those who live close enough to Marin Art and Garden Center to walk or cycle to the center, are welcome to visit the Basketry Garden, adjacent to the Barn Theater. Nature’s gifts continue to unfold with spring sunshine and rain, and, under current restrictions, fewer than usual human sounds intrude. Neighborhood chainsaws, construction work and leaf-blowers are stilled.

Warblers and juncos flit among the coffeeberry bushes, while in nearby woodland, a jay and chattering acorn woodpeckers can be heard. Overhead, a red-tailed hawk cries, glides, and then dives behind the Redwood Amphitheater, not bothered today by crows.

If you search for the source of an insistent hum, you will come to two beehives behind a bamboo lattice fence. Spring is a time of frenetic activity, as each queen is laying as many as 1000 eggs each day, and the worker bees are building new comb for the larvae and for incoming nectar and pollen. The pollen is carried as a bright-colored lump on each back leg, and the bee waddles into the hive as though wearing heavy cargo pants. 

If the bees lack space for the growing population, half the inhabitants will leave as a swarm that needs a new home. The swarm usually settles as a dense clump of bees hanging in a nearby tree or bush, while scouting bees search for a suitable nesting site. At this stage, the swarm can be shaken into an empty hive, where they will often stay.

Fresh growth covers the dark lacework of winter’s branches, and emerges from club-like trees where shoots for basket-weaving were cut in December. Nearly all the plants in this garden are traditionally used for basket-weaving by California Indians. Among the favored shrubs and trees are willows, creek dogwood, maple, redbud, sourberry, buckbrush, spruce, and bull pine. The spikes of a variety of fibrous marsh plants have emerged from water tubs sunk in the ground – where birds come to bathe and drink. Basket sedge is the most ubiquitous, grass-like, plant in this garden, and its pretty white and yellow catkins attract honeybees in April and May. It is the long, golden-colored rhizome of this plant that is so valued by Indian weavers of central California.

Low-growing yerba buena is now at its peak for gathering for a minty tea, as are the new, bright green fronds of Douglas-fir, that have a lemony flavor. Yerba buena can be found near the top of the right-hand side of the loop trail, and you may pick some where it encroaches on the path.

Look for the ten woven baskets, and woven fences placed throughout the garden. An open-weave basket near the gravel parking area was made of living black maul willow, a species that is only now breaking its buds. The other baskets, of cut shoots, go through a natural progression of ageing, decay, and eventual replacement. You can also visit a giant willow basket, 13 feet across and adorned with abalone shells, near the main parking lot.

All images & text courtest of Charlie Kennard

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IRS Guidelines for Gifts from Donor Advised Funds to Support MAGC Events

Thank you for your interest in giving to the Marin Art & Garden Center events from your Donor Advised Fund (DAF) or Family Foundation.

We sincerely appreciate your generosity and support!

To ensure your gift follows the current IRS guidelines for DAF/Family Foundation support of an event, we would like to share the below guidelines with you.

  • Raffle tickets, tickets to galas and other special events, auction items, and benefits conferred in connection with a DAF/foundation grant are not permitted.
    • IRS has specifically ruled that fair market value associated with fundraising events cannot be separated, a practice known as “bifurcation.”
      • For example, with Edible Garden, if the price of the ticket is $200 and the FMV fair market value (non-tax-deductible amount) is designated to be $50, the donor must pay from sources other than her DAF/foundation for the full value of the ticket ($200) and not just for the non-tax-deductible amount ($50).
    • We recommend you confer with your financial advisor to confirm if any of these examples of how donors may still use their DAF to support an event would work for you:
      • A donor could sponsor the event, and not attend, and pay fully out of the DAF/foundation.
      • A donor could sponsor the event using DAF/foundation funds and attend by purchasing an individual ticket through non-DAF/foundation funds.
      • A donor could sponsor the event, join the event as a guest of another donor/table guest, and pay fully out of the DAF/foundation.
      • A donor could sponsor the event and host the afforded number of people at their chosen level as long as they pay for the seats at the lowest ticket price ($200 for Edible Garden) outside of their DAF.
        • As an example, a $1,500 sponsor that covers 2 guests, could pay for their sponsorship with $400 from a different source of funds, and then give an additional gift of $1,100 out of their DAF.


Please email Tod Thorpe, Director of Development at tod.thorpe@maringarden.org to discuss your gift to Marin Art and Garden Center