October 2011

News Archive

Betty Nostrand, Editor
Ann Rivenes, Publisher

Co-President's Letter

With the shorter daylight, we are saying goodbye to all our summer crops and enjoying our harvests. This is our second spring, and I hope that you are planning on some great fall plantings, whether your interests are winter vegetables, new trees, shrubs, perennials or adding natives to your landscape. This is the time to get them started as they will thrive in the warm soil.

This month's speaker and one of the world's renown Rose preservationists, Greg Lowery, is near and dear to my heart. Having a garden full of old roses and many purchased from his nursery, I am eager to hear his talk on mystery roses around the world. In the history of rose growing, many varieties have been lost, mislabeled or even renamed. While rose breeders keep pumping out a new crop of roses for us to buy each year, what is forgotten is that there are thousands of tried and true roses from past generations that are wonderful and great in a landscape. Few nurseries are able sell these roses, but Vintage Gardens, Greg's nursery is one of the ones that do. In these tough times for nurseries, we must keep the independent ones alive. So I do hope that you will consider purchasing an own root rose that he will have available for sale at the meeting.

September and the beginning of our garden club year started off like gangbusters with many activities for members to attend, our annual tomato tasting, fall quilt show, garden tours, floral design, many work parties and our 4MLB. October promises to be equally as busy. Read on to see what events are in store for you. If you haven't received your new yearbook, come to the meeting and see Marti Silva to pick yours up or get a friend or neighbor to pick up your yearbook and save the club the cost (over $1.00) to mail it to you.

So enjoy yourself this month in you garden and partaking in many of our club activities.

Co-President, Sondra Bierre

October Onslaught.....in the garden

...spring bulbs are coming into the nurseries now. Buy early for the best choice and also to be pretty sure that they are the color the bin says. Look for early blooming or mid-spring blooming tulips since our late spring is usually too hot for the blooms to last very long. Big, showy Tulips are mostly an annual around here but some smaller ones will come back year after year if they are dry during the summer. After a good rain it is easier to dig in the bulbs out in the soil but if planting in pots just about anytime after mid/late October is fine. Use any potting soil and top off with pansies or parsley for a finished look when the bulbs bloom. Just be sure they are kept moist after they start to grow in case our winter rains are few and far between. Squirrels and other little furry things love the tulip and other bulbs so cover the pots with chicken wire or mesh until they are up and growing. It makes me so mad when they knock over and dig up the bulbs looking for who-knows-what in the pot and break off the growing tip in the process.

...looking for Native Plant nurseries in this area? Go to www.bringingbackthenatives.net/find-a-nursery and they list quite a number of them in northern California. The ones I have been to are quite an experience in themselves and worth the trip to see them and the unusual plants they have to offer.

...There are a lot of plant sales going on in early October at public gardens. Depending on the organization they will have special plants in their favorites such as succulents at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek on Sat., Oct. 8 starting at 11 to 3. As with most organizations, if you are a member you get in earlier - in their case at 9 a.m. Markham Arboretum in Concord has their sale on Oct. 15 and features a lot of natives at very good prices.

...if you are new to this area or new to being serious about gardening you may not realize that this is about the very best time to plant! The soil is still warm (although you might want to wait until after our 90+ days) so that the plants can get their roots a bit established, the fall rains will keep them watered, and our winters are not usually cold enough to kill them (famous last words in the changing weather patterns we have had lately). Then next Spring they have a head start on growing and blooming. Nurseries are clearing out their inventory so they don't have to maintain the plants over the winter so you can get lots of bargains too.

...more and more studies are showing that we gardeners just love to keep ourselves busy unnecessarily. We till and turn over the soil to plant and expose weed seeds to germinate, clean out our beds in Spring and Fall, fertilize, and then put down mulch that we have purchased. If we were more patient Mother Nature would do the same thing without any of our interference. Sort of as a middle ground you can use the compost that you made from the clippings and cleanings of your garden and return the ingredients and nutrients to the soil. This year I am just moving the mulch from my deodar cedars (very, very prolific and acidic, but small size pieces so they look pretty tidy) over to other garden beds in my garden that would probably enjoy the acidic counterpoint to our alkaline water. Aesthetics comes in here for most of us and we can't stand to see the 'litter' that has fallen from plants we have pruned and deadheaded or from annuals when they expire nor do we have enough patience to allow nature to turn it into 'black gold' mulch in situ. For a pep talk about letting things be and working with Nature, try reading Gaia's Garden , a handbook on the practice of permaculture.

...this is the time to plant sweet pea seeds. Just be sure to protect the new sprouts that appear with mesh or reemay cloth because the tender sprouts are a bird's most delightful snack and you will probably be blaming the snails (who will also enjoy the sprouts at night if the birds don't get them during the day.)

...if the rains seem to be starting in a regular pattern (and every year seems to be different) you can scatter wildflower and poppy seeds. Once they germinate they need to be kept sort of moist to survive so if you don't want to water them, wait a while until the weather cools and rains are closer together. These tiny starts are a treat for birds too - but didn't you want to attract wildlife to your garden?

...I notice Jacquie Courtwright in her Q and A column in her weekly e-newsletter from Alden Lane says that the new hydrangeas will grow on both old and new growth so you only tip back the flower heads about 6 inches. And if the plant is getting way too big, cut down every other stem to keep it the size you want. If you don't get her weekly newsletter and have access to e-mail it is a fun thing to sign up for and full of local gardening information. There are always huge events and classes going on at the nursery. Western Gardens nursery in Pleasanton also has lots of classes. Both nurseries are very good to us and provide the plants for the drawing at the end of our monthly meetings. Thank you! Thank you!

...do you have tons of spiders in your garden lately? Just remember they are good! They are eating mites and tiny things and the birds are feasting on the spiders. They'll go away when the rains start and it gets colder.

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