Gardeners Bracing for Battle with Mother Nature at Bruns Theater

(Contributed Photo)
Members of Will’s Weeders (L-R) Sue Fernstrom, Julie Landres, Ellen Dale, Muriel Wilson and Cherie Grant get ready to spruce up the grounds around the Bruns Amphitheater on a drizzly day last May.

    With California Shakespeare Theater canceling its 2020 summer season, the usual crowds of theater lovers will not be filling the parking lot at the Bruns Amphitheater and hiking up the hill to the picnic grounds and stage this summer.
    Meanwhile, Mother Nature remains at work with her many native and non-native plants taking over usually well-tended paths and picnic areas. A group of volunteers hope to curb Mother Nature’s enthusiastic spring growth regardless of activities, or lack thereof, at the scenic venue.
    Normally, Will’s Weeders would meet Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. beginning in late March and continue through the end of Cal Shakes’ final play in the fall to tend to the site. But given the coronavirus and the cancellation of plays, the energetic gardeners are in limbo while the weeds continue to flourish.
    “Most likely, we are not going to be working up at Cal Shakes before June, when we hope the restrictions will be eased,” said member Ellen Dale. “We have to wait until we get clearance from the county health department to start work.”
    Cal Shakes Managing Director Sarah Williams couldn’t agree more. “We love Will’s Weeders and are always looking to recruit more. But we’re not going to do anything until the shelter in place is lifted,” said Williams. “Once we can get back out there, Ellen will marshal the crew. It will probably be a bit of a jungle by then.”
    Dale noted she is happy to be contacted by prospective “weeders” at any time. “The longer we have to wait, the more help we’ll need to take care of everything. We often joke that people don’t think about how nice the grounds look. But, if we stopped working, they would definitely notice!”
    According to Dale, Will’s Weeders was born when Midge Zischke and her friends from the Orinda Garden Club volunteered to make the new theater grounds look nice before the first opening night at the Bruns in 1991.
    “Some of the original group are still members, but we’re always happy to have new people join in,” Dale said. “Volunteers don’t have to come every Tuesday or stay for the full two hours. We’re happy to have them for any length of time.”
    For information on joining Will’s Weeders, contact Dale at

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.