November 2011

News Archive

Betty Nostrand, Editor
Ann Rivenes, Publisher

Co-President's Letter

Autumn is surely here. The weather is crisp and cool, days are shorter and night seems to last forever. We're hoping to have a little rain so that we can get started with our daffodil planting in Livermore soon. As we begin to prepare for the holidays coming up, don't forget to look through your fall décor to see which items need to find new homes. Maudie will have her fall boutique at our November meeting for new and gently used fall inspired decorations and bric- a -brac. Save the Christmas items for December! What a great way to practice the three R's.

If you are new to our club and would like to have a more intimate time to meet others and become more familiar with our activities please think about joining us at our New Members' Reception on November 17th at the Pleasanton Gardens. It will be an informal get together with refreshments. New and seasoned members are invited to attend. Please let us know if you plan to come so we will make sure to have enough seating and refreshments.

Our speaker this month is Denise Koroslev who will be speaking about Medicinal Herb Gardening and Techniques. This sounds like an intriguing topic. I grow many herbs which are supposedly good for our health but haven't a clue as to how to use many of them. This may be a good selling point for herbs which we propagate for the April plant sale. If you are not sure how to divide and propagate herbs and other plants, we'll be having Propagation 101 in the near future.

It was great to see the large group of members enjoying our first Mediterranean /Native Plant Group tour. We all were amazed with the creativity and prolific cactus and succulent gardens of Dennis Rooney. Another large group enjoyed their day at the Wente garden with the Edible Gardening Group. We are pleased that so many of you are taking advantage of the club's offerings and hope that you will continue to do so. As the season changes, slow down and get out to enjoy our fall color!

Tina Higashi

November need to' the garden

...the end of the year is rushing toward us usually with lots of activities and reasons not to get outside in the garden so get out there now and get it tidied up. Leave a few seed heads for the birds but deadhead those Sedum 'Autumn Joy' that are probably all covered with black aphids now anyway. Cut the stems clear back to the base and they will come back in the spring with new foliage. These plants are extremely hardy and even survive a frozen Colorado winter. Plant some early spring or winter blooming plants near their base to look good while the sedums sort of disappear over the winter. You can divide them now by just splitting apart the crown of the plant. Great way to get a lot of plants for a pathway or garden bed display or start some for our plant sale in April.

...You can prune to shape evergreens later in the month and use the cuttings for holiday décor. Some evergreens 'hold' better than others. The deodar cedar greens are just stems within a week. Juniper cuttings seem to look the same right on through to the New Year. Their berries don't last that long and so may be a nuisance in a wreath. Try to do your trimming at the joint of a stem or leaf so that the plant does not look shorn. Berries are another thing that have varying 'hold' times. Nandina berries stay red and on the stem for quite a while but my contoneaster cuttings seem to be almost berry-less by the time I get them in the house. If you know of someone that has an English holly tree - or near me there is a whole hedge of it - you can ask if you can trim a few stems (Please, do ask first) and if you are a good pruner they won't even know where you have taken the cuttings from. Surely they have a branch that is hanging over a path that they would love to be rid of. Holly has really sharp, sharp thorns on them so wear heavy gloves and watch out when using them in decorations or on packages.

...I've had a lot of fun at plant sales recently but must remember that these new plants - native or whatever - need to be nurtured and watered both in their pots or in the ground until the regular rains come - and the rains are supposed to come this winter. They say to keep 'native' plants watered until they are established and I always sort of wondered when that was but Lee Giroux says she feels it is when they have doubled in size. That would show that the roots must be working and growing the plant. A good tip. And if you have seen Lee's new garden you know she is doing something right!

...when those winter rains do start on a more regular basis, remember to knock down the basins around plants and shrubs. Especially those that are around 'Mediterranean' or Australian plants because our moist winters will rot their stems and roots if the water is held around the plant. In fact any plant that needs "good drainage" shouldn't have any sort of berm or 'well' around it to hold in water. In summer heat it may be a good thing but not in the winter months. can twist off excess buds on camellias now for bigger blooms in a couple months. In fact susanqua varieties of camellias will be blooming soon or even now. This type takes more sun than the japonicas and tolerate drought better. You can spread out camellia blooming season by having various varieties of them. These plants are acid loving and would benefit from your tea or coffee leftovers or pine needle mulch.

...speaking of coffee and tea leftovers (I mean the liquid kind) I have been using mine to water any plants that do seem to prefer a more acidy soil than we have and I think it is really benefiting them. My abutilons have lots more flowers. Combine the tea or coffee leftovers with any water or moisture left from cooking vegetables and you really have quite a dynamite fertilizer 'tea'. Put an attractive pitcher on your counter and just put in the leftovers 'tea' and you'll have a great treat for your plants. I do put my coffee grounds and tea bags in my compost pile but they also make good mulch.

...if you have mums that have multiple buds on them and you are going for big blooms you can also take off all but one bud on these stems. You have to be careful because it is easy to inadvertently take off all the buds and you don't really grow mums for the foliage. After they bloom (big or multiple) you can cut them down to about 3 inches for the winter.

...if you ever wonder what is going on in the club or what is going on horticulturally in the area, be sure to check out our website . Lynn MacFarland has done a great job putting up all sorts of information - even pictures when she receives them. this month of Thanksgiving we can all be thankful as gardeners that we live is such a wonderful place to garden!

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