Fire Safe Landscaping at the Mid-State Fair

Fire Safe Landscaping at the Mid-State Fair

Learn how to make your landscape defensible during fire season

At Madrone Landscapes, we have dealt with properties in high fire danger areas for decades. There are many ways to enhance a property’s defensibility, whether through plant selection and design or irrigation and water system strategies.

Visitors to the 2021 Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles will be able to see for themselves some of these best practices at the Fire Safe Demonstration House for view from July 21st to August 1st. The model property will show strategies for living in fire-prone areas around the Central Coast, especially appropriate as fire season comes upon us.

The multi-phased project will be developed over the next couple of years, and Phase One is getting ready for this year’s Fair. After re-grading, tearing out old plants, and doing a weed abatement, Madrone transformed the space into a simple gravel landscape (one of the best options for fire safety). The open gravel area will accommodate shaded seating, a proposed “Hydration Station,” and educational messaging to help people visualize how they can keep their properties fire-safe. A future phase will feature a mobile multi-media educational exhibit, and the occasional visit by a fire truck.

This community education exhibit was created by the Fire Safe Council, spearheaded by Turko Semmes with Madrone Landscapes lending assistance. Semmes and Company built the structure, demonstrating closed eaves and partial straw bale, the latter being three times more fire-resistant than the average material. Also contributing to the fire safe landscaping message is the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden (SLOBG), whose Fire Safe Demonstration Garden can be viewed daily at the SLOBG grounds off Hwy 1 in San Luis Obipso, near Cuesta College.

Come visit the Demonstration House, a welcome respite from the hot Paso Robles temperatures, featuring shaded seating areas and the only hydration station at the Fair. Bring your water bottle and swing by for a fill-up!

Collaboration Spotlight: Mission San Antonio

Collaboration Spotlight: Mission San Antonio

Rich History and Old-Stock Mission Vines in Our Backyard

Located on 86 acres of the former Milpitas unit of the Hearst Ranch, the Mission San Antonio de Padua features a large church, a museum, and a gift shop. In 2020, as part of the Mission’s ongoing restoration project, we joined the team to complete a renovation of the Mission’s courtyard garden. Working together with Joan Steele, administrator, we were able to create a beautiful garden designed to showcase the many native plants used by the Salinan Tribe. Although the garden is new, these grounds are rich in history (this year marks its 250th anniversary!), and we asked Joan to highlight one of the few original features remaining in the courtyard garden: its original grape stock.

Heritage grape stock cutting purchased through the Mission San Antonio gift shop.

“The cuttings would have been brought either from Mallorca, Spain, in the 1700s and/or from the area around what is now Mexico City,” explains Joan.

The Franciscans knew they would need to plant a vineyard in the New World to have wine for daily Mass. Following construction of the first irrigation system (aqueduct) in California, the Franciscans and the Native Salinan Tribal Members planted the first vineyard on the Central Coast.

They built an adobe wall around the vineyard to keep the animals out and built a house for the “vineyardist” within the vineyard. As the vines flourished, the Franciscans built two large wine vats and a wine cellar (one of the vats and the wine cellar are still visible today as part of the Mission museum). By 1841 there were 4,000 vines in the vineyard.

The Mexican government secularized the Mission in 1834. It was temporarily abandoned in 1844 and the vineyard continued to decline. Prior to his death in 1882, it is believed Fr. Dorothea Ambris moved some of the vines from the declining vineyard and replanted them inside the Mission courtyard and out in front of the Mission to better care for them.

Joan shares that in 2011 the Mission sent samples of these vines to UC Davis for DNA testing. It was discovered that the grapes are “Mission” grapes – also known as Criolla Chica in South America and Pais in France. While this varietal is no longer available in Spain, this type of grape stock is still used widely in Central and South America to produce the local table wines.

“We are very proud of our historic vines, still producing wonderful annual harvests,” Joan notes. “It is one of our long-range goals to reestablish the vineyard at the Mission, using cuttings from the original vines. We hope to engage the cooperation of local university students to rebuild the adobe walls around the vineyard and grow the historic vines for many years to come.”

Currently, the Mission has some cuttings available through the gift shop when it is open on the weekends. Visit www.missionsanantonio.net to keep abreast of the changing schedule due to COVID restrictions and staffing requirements.

Meet the Team: Tanner Jannsens, Landscape Construction Project Manager

Meet the Team: Tanner Jannsens, Landscape Construction Project Manager

Tanner Janssens started with Madrone in his early 20’s, and has grown his skill set over the years, and matured as a leader. He has a great attitude for getting things done and is one of the sweetest guys we know.

How long have you worked at Madrone?
6 years

What is your favorite thing about working at Madrone?
I like to build things and make things beautiful.

What do you enjoy most about your job/specialization?
I get to work with great people and I get to see some pretty amazing places on the central coast.

What is your favorite, and least favorite, plant and why?
Ceanothus is my favorite. I like how in the springtime you can look up in the hills and see the blue and white flowers.
I don’t know if I have a least favorite – oh wait, poison oak.

What are some of your favorite hobbies outside of work?
Hiking, hunting, biking. Salmon Creek is a favorite local hike. Out of the area, it’s Dinkey Wilderness.

Give us a fun fact about you!
I often find arrowheads when I’m out hiking, which can really annoy my friends who aren’t as lucky. Once I found an obsidian spearhead in the Dinkey Wilderness.

Meet the Team: Geoff Condon, Maintenance Account Manager

Meet the Team: Geoff Condon, Maintenance Account Manager

Geoff Condon’s work experience is extensive and includes working on the first recognized watershed in the United States by Congress, Honey Hollow Watershed located in Pennsylvania, soil remediation for Tosco Refinery located in Wilmington and a Christmas tree farm. He has five years working in a retail nursery, restoring a 220-acre watershed in Northern California that was clear-cut for lumber harvest, and working on the Dohney Ranch maintaining the lemon and avocado orchards. Geoff’s landscaping experience includes 18 years with GS Brothers, located in Southern California. There he installed and maintained landscapes for some of the largest developers in Southern California.

How long have you worked at Madrone?
7 years

What is your favorite thing about working at Madrone?
I love the freedom the company provides. I make my own schedule and am trusted to get the job done. The owner, Rick Mathews, has created a great team spirit working environment, and I appreciate the company culture. I also really love that I get to bring my dogs to work.

What do you enjoy most about your job/specialization?
I spend my time overseeing Madrone Landscapes’ client properties. This includes performing irrigation, pest control, maintaining healthy gardens and trees, refreshing annual floral colors, and performing property upgrades—among other things.

I would say my favorite part of this job is going to project sites and meeting clients and residents. I have made a few true friends through my work and really enjoy meeting so many people.

What is your favorite plant and why?
I enjoy all plants. The colors and structures really make the landscape come alive. A good landscape incorporates different forms, shapes colors, textures and sound. I appreciate annual color plantings for instant satisfaction

What are some of your favorite hobbies outside of work?
When I am not working on Madrone Landscapes projects, you can find me working on personal projects. I own rental properties and work around my house a lot. I enjoy time with family (including camping) and hope to see my 97-year-old mother—the inspiration for my passion and career—soon now that we have been both fully vaccinated.

Give us a fun fact about you!
I try to enjoy every day and make people smile. Just give me a chance and you will be laughing in the first five minutes.

Coats for Kids of SLO County Call for Donations

Coats for Kids of SLO County Call for Donations

Coats for Kids of San Luis Obispo County is having a limited-time winter coat drive from January 25 to January 31, 2021. Due to pandemic restrictions, Coats for Kids held a limited coat drive in 2020, and the need is still great.

For one week, Coats for Kids donation boxes will be at five North County businesses. The boxes will be brought outside the front door during business hours and brought in at night to allow for social distancing. Donations of new or gently used coats, sweaters, and sweatshirts will be accepted in all sizes, but the need for kid’s clothes is greatest. Clothes will go to qualified families in North San Luis Obispo County.

Drop Off Locations (1/25/21 – 1/31/21 during business hours):
Madrone Landscapes, 8045 Morro Road, Atascadero, CA 93422
Atascadero Jewelry and Loan, 5550 El Camino Real, Atascadero, CA 93422
Nature’s Touch Nursery & Harvest, 225 Main Street, Templeton, CA 93465
Paso Market Walk, 1803 Spring Street, Paso Robles, CA 93446
New Day Church, 1228 11th Street, Suite 101 & 102, Paso Robles, CA 93446

Local businesses Plaza Cleaners (Atascadero and Paso Robles), Paso Robles Cleaners and Laundry (Paso Robles), and Fashion Dry Cleaners and Laundry (Atascadero) will be donating cleaning services for the collected clothing.

To learn more or make a tax-deductible monetary donation, please visit coatsforkidsslocounty.org.


About Coats for Kids of SLO County
Coats for Kids is an annual event that has been ongoing for 33 warm, wonderful years. Every year, volunteers gather, sort, and distribute new and gently used clothing of all sizes, giving warmth to families in need across the Central Coast at absolutely no cost to them. The volunteers work with multiple local businesses and charities to serve over 750 families.