February 22, 2010
Los Voluntarios Historic Preservation Committee
The Los Voluntarios Historic Preservation Committee is a special volunteer group at the Arboretum responsible for maintaining our historic buildings. They also host our two annual public tours of the Queen Anne Cottage on Mother’s Day and Christmas. Every year the group decorates the Cottage for Christmas and they make Christmas wreaths for sale, the proceeds are used to help with maintenance and conservation of the historic buildings.
Currently led by Marsha Perez and Beverly Street, the Historic Preservation Committee is indispensable. Recently, a failing smoke detector resulted in a visit by the Arcadia Fire Department who commented favorably on the standard of cleanliness inside the Queen Anne Cottage. Having subsequently visited them at the Baldwin Avenue station, I can attest to their very high standards in regard to cleanliness so this was quite a compliment coming from the Firemen!
For many years, retired Curator Sandy Snider worked with the group and continues to volunteer with them even in retirement. The Arboretum owes a debt of gratitude to the group. A number of the members also volunteer in other capacities at the Arboretum in addition to their work with the committee.
The members have often spoken to me about the uniqueness of our historic resources, their beauty and tell me about the ways that they have enriched their lives. Thanks to their work, our historic resources will continue to enrich the lives of the local community as well as visitors in Los Angeles County and from all over the world.
Mitchell Hearns Bishop
Curator, Historic Collections
February 20, 2010
Woodpecker vs. Gold Medallion Tree
A caller informed me that a woodpecker was pecking into one of his Gold Medallion trees (Cassia leptophylla) and causing the tree to start dying off. How, he asked me, can the bird be discouraged, and what about the tree? The bird might be looking for borers in the wood, so check the tree for borers, you may have to treat the tree after the bird has been chased away. The woodpecker may also might be storing food in the holes until later, or feeding on sap from the tree. In any case the damage to the tree can be fairly substantial, so it is not a bad idea to discourage the bird from hanging around. One way of doing this is to tie strips of foil on to the tree so that its glittering and flashing appearence in the sun scares them away. If that doesn't work they can try scarecrow owls (which the woodpeckers get used to fairly rapidly if the owls aren't moved) or wrapping bird netting around the suffering branches. If the woodpecker damage to the branch is extensive, you may have to cut that branch off where it initiates from the trunk, leaving a 1-2 inchecollar so that the tree can properly heal.
February 19, 2010
A Cast Iron 19th Century Garden Sculpture by J. J. Ducel et Fils
Between the Queen Anne Cottage and the Coach Barn there is a large cast iron garden sculpture of two women holding aloft a basket of fruit and flowers.
It was cast by J. J. Ducel et Fils, in Paris probably in the middle of the 19th century. Ducel produced high quality sculpture, fountains, and decorative pieces such as urns for gardens and public parks. The quality of the iron is exceptional and the Arboretum’s sculpture is in excellent shape although it appears to have been painted at least twice and most of the paint has peeled off.
We are not quite sure what the original surface would have looked like. It may have been painted an off white color.
In the shade of the trees it can be found alongside a path connecting the two buildings. We are considering having the work conserved and moved to a more prominent position. It deserves more attention since the quality of the work is quite remarkably good.
Ultimately known simply as Val d’Osne, the merging of a number of small foundries led to a firm with the unwieldy name Société Anonyme des Hauts-Fourneaux et Fonderies du Val-D'Osne, Anciennes maisons J. P. V. André et J. J. Ducel et Fils. By taking advantage of new iron casting techniques resulting from the industrial revolution and using a sculptors who exhibited at the Paris Salon, the firm was able to produce exceptional works.
February 10, 2010
Louis Aimé Lejeune’s “Je n’oublerai pas”
Je n’oublerai pas by the sculptor Louis Aimé Lejeune was commissioned in 1930 by Anita Baldwin as a memorial for her father, Elias J. Baldwin or “Lucky Baldwin”. Baldwin was the owner of the Santa Anita Ranch from 1875 until his death in 1909 as well as the founder of the city of Arcadia and its first Mayor. The phrase is the motto of the Baldwin family and the work also bears the Baldwin family crest, a squirrel holding three acorns and three pairs of oak leaves.
In 2009 with funds provided by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission it was cleaned and moved to a new location in the Arboretum’s Day Lily Garden by professional conservators.
On a bright sunny day following the winter rains the work practically glows. The present location allows visitors to view the work to much greater advantage.
Lejeune was working for the Huntington family in 1926 when Anita Baldwin commissioned him to do a bronze fountain for her house Anoakia as well as her father’s memorial.