February 2011

News Archive

Betty Nostrand, Editor
Ann Rivenes, Publisher

Co-Presidentís Letter

Dear Fellow Garden Clubbers

The weather has been so lovely and perfect for gardening, that I went outside and pruned all my roses, and did all my winter pruning and then just as I was about to start cutting back and clearing all my dead perennials, I suddenly thought it's only January! I have lost plants because of those hard freezes we get in February. I then checked my pots and some of those were quite dry as we haven't had rain for sometime - so the joys of gardening in California! I'm not complaining - the East Coast has been battered with blizzards and even my home town of London seized up with snow which is most unusual. As I'm going to be away again and wouldn't be here to protect anything, I'm glad I stopped. I also haven't sown any seeds this year because of being away so I do hope many of you took advantage of the seed workshop and will have some to share/spare for the Plant Sale.

There is a lot going on over the next few months with shows, tours, workshops and the Plant Sale. Please have a look at all the events in the Newsletter and consider if you can help out in any way. I will be away for both the February and March meetings - missing some great speakers unfortunately - so please give Sondra and the Committee Chairs your full support and get involved.

Happy Gardening

Lydia Roberts, Co-President

February follies...in the garden

...the big thing now is weeds, weeds, weeds, and getting them while they are young and not gone to seed. Of course some plants are weeds to one gardener and just a fun pop-up plant to another. I donít mind valerian or forget-me-nots and let them grow wherever they want. But it also doesnít hurt me to yank them out if they are in the way of something I really want. All plants use water and nutrients so it is a good idea not to leave extra plants of whatever sort around finicky plants or big eaters.

...the really tender plants you should probably wait another month to prune back (our last frost date is supposed to be March 15 but Mother Nature doesnít always read that memo.) but most perennials and shrubs can be pruned now. I find spireas love to be cut way, way back and can be sheared back all year to encourage another round of bloom. Plants that are quite inexpensive to buy, like verbena, can be sheared way back but if frost or something gets them, just yank them out and buy a new one. Think of the benefit to the compost pile of the plants you take out.

...my abutilon sort of blooms all year but if you are trying to keep it to a shape or against a wall, now is a good time to cut it all back Ė blooming branches or not.

...toward mid-month is the time to get at your fuchsias. They bloom on new wood so you want to cut them way, way back and then pinch, pinch, pinch as the leaf couplets come out so you get lots of branches and new wood for them to bloom on. Another plant that is this way is the callicarpa (American beauty berry) but the one at the Sensory garden still has all its glorious hot pink berries on but when they fall of weíll cut that sucker back to almost a stub. I have a honeysuckle that seems to bloom more if I cut it way back too.

...and donít forget the daylilies Ė they seem to just love being completely whacked back to about 4-6 inches from the ground. Then you get all new foliage to set off the blooms. Same thing for catmint, liriope, and Santa Barbara daisies (another plant that is a weed to some but I love the little daisy flowers).

...we seem to have hit a dry spell so be sure emerging bulbs are kept with some moisture on them. Watch out as you are working in beds that you arenít crunching the tips of bulbs coming out. They really donít like that and you can snap off potential buds and there goes the flowers for this year. If you have planted wildflower or poppy seeds they might need a little shower too. If rains come and the ground stays a bit moist you donít need to worry about them.

...and this is the time to divide perennials that have expanded out of their spot. Just remember to pot up a few for our plant sale. If you do it this month they will have plenty of time to get a good root system in the pot and be top grade plants by mid-April.

...this is a great time to put an all purpose fertilizer around plants just after you prune or divide them. Home made compost is great but store-bought natural fertilizers that are going to feed the soil are also appreciated. Chemical fertilizers will give a quick burst to the plant but it is sort of like fast food. You need to feed the soil so it can give the plant what it needs and keep feeding it year round.

Livermore Valley Garden Club (LAVGC) serving the Tri-Valley: Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton, Sunol, and San Ramon