The Heritage Garden at Grass Valley’s North Star House is going solar |

The Heritage Garden at Grass Valley’s North Star House is going solar

Submitted to The Union

In 1905, the North Star Mining Superintendent A.D. Foote and Architect Julia Morgan would have never expected that the irrigation and lighting at the Heritage Garden at The North Star House would go solar.

Thanks to a contribution of Gil Mathews and his company Sierra Solar Systems, the Heritage Garden will soon water the plants and light pathways with solar power. Gil Mathews has donated a 1,000 kilowatt off-grid solar electric system to the North Star Historic Conservancy, to power the Heritage Garden.

"It fits in with the simplicity and environmentally practical design of architect Julia Morgan," said Site Architect David Wright, who worked alongside Landscape Contractor James Pyle. "Both Foote and Morgan were trailblazers in their fields. They would be impressed we are utilizing nature to support the Heritage Garden at The North Star House in the 21st Century."

This is a full off-grid system that will generate enough power to provide night lighting for events and even a sound system. There will be daily power for irrigation control, a circulating pond and running equipment for maintenance. The system, with components produced here in the United States, will have a useful life of over 25 years.

The crew from Sierra Solar will not be alone in the Heritage Garden on April 29 when they install the solar electric system. The 49er Breakfast Club Rotary has adopted the Heritage Garden as their 2017 service project. The 49er Rotary will build a new shade pergola around the large Chinese elm tree at the center of the garden. About 50 Rotarian volunteers will be building paths, gardening, installing a patio screen and doing other tasks to improve the grounds.

The rock wall seating in the front of the Heritage Garden was completed by Ron Bailey Masonry this past winter. When weather allows, a second Chinese elm, donated by Jean McKeen in honor of her late husband Dave, will be planted in the front seating area.

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Planting will have to wait until construction of the pathways and the rough irrigation is completed. The planting plan for the garden has been designed and drawn by James Pyle, of WuWay Landscape, with the assistance of gardeners Carole Miller, Paula Campbell and Lee Dempsey. Carole and Lee, have been protecting heritage plants found still growing on the property, for transplanting to the Heritage Garden once the irrigation system is in place.

The garden benches are being built by Larry Dulmage, President of the North Star Historic Conservancy, and his group of volunteers. The benches are styled after Craftsman vintage Park Service benches. Four benches, donated by Gary Emanuel, Charles and Betzi Hart, Lorraine Plagge and Nancy Tilman, will be placed in the Heritage Garden in late spring.

The reflecting pond, irrigation system and ADA accessible paths will be installed as part of the next phase of the project. The group is still looking for funding and volunteers to complete the final phase of the project. To help contact Betzi Hart or Gary Emanuel at (530) 477-7126.

Source: North Star Historic Conservancy

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