April 2012

News Archive

Betty Nostrand, Editor
Ann Rivenes, Publisher

Co-President's Letter

It's spring! We have already moved into daylight savings time and the first day of spring has passed; so it officially is SPRING! Yes, with all the lovely spring flowers, the daffodils blooming on Boot Hill, and all the flowering trees enveloping us, it signals that our annual plant sale is just around the corner. We want everyone to contribute plants and time to help with our major fundraiser. We have lots of jobs to offer you and other ways you can help. Do you have a truck? We need you and want you to help us transport plants from the pricing sites to the sale. Read on for other ways that you can help the club. Oh yes, and remember to come and buy plants too!

Also, the program committee needs your input about wonderful gardens in our area to add to their list of exciting gardens to visit in a two hour driving radius from us. You can email them or drop off your suggestion of a great garden to visit by placing it in the colorful box at the Gardener's Forum table.

Nicholis Staddon, our guest speaker this month, is the New Plant Director at Monrovia and will be tantalizing us with new plant introductions. It should be an exciting night for all plantaholics.

What is better that getting introduced to yet more new plant to grow!

This is after coming off of the San Francisco Garden Show and all the plants there and all the plants we can buy at our upcoming plant sale! Oh yes, spring is here, and our thoughts go plant crazy!

Sondra Bierre, Co-President

Misc. Items of Interest

...Diablo Foothills district Terrarium Workshop, Wed., April 18, 10:30 to noon held at Alden Lane Nursery, 981 Alden Lane in Livermore, cost is about $50 depending on what container and what plants you choose. Only a few spots left. To sign up call Sandy Rogers, 373-9320.

...Sondra Bierre volunteered to be the third member of the Nominations Committee. She joins Karen Jefferson and Sandy Yamaoda. They will meet and present a slate of officers for the April meeting.

...the beautiful decorations on our refreshment table each month are the creative work of Elvira Herrick and Jo O'Neil. Good work ladies!

...Co-chair Terri Muir gave a report at our last meeting on our upcoming Quilts in the Garden Tour. It will be a two day tour on Saturday and Sunday, September 22-23 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We still would like to have a few more gardens to complement those already volunteered for the weekend. We will be included in the publicity that Alden Lane Nursery is sending out to quilters nationwide so this has the potential to be a very good fundraiser for us. Please call Terri or Sharon Howard if you'd like to add your garden to the Tour.

...The vote for a new digital projector was passed unanimously after some discussion. Nile Runge and Len will shop for a projector to cost no more than $750. They will attempt to do so in the near future so we can use it before the season is ended. They will house it with our other av equipment as long as they continue to be our tech team.

...the gardens behind the Asbury Methodist Church on East Ave. in Livermore, known as the "Garden of Grace" is looking for help in their gardens, both manual work and helping with the school age tours that they have. They need assistance almost any day of the week so if you are frustrated that most of our club's workparties are on Fridays and that is a busy day for you contact Bruce Campbell to see what kind and when they need help. Their website is www.fertilegroundworks.org

April Anticipation ........in the garden

...well, spring is here but it can't seem to make up its mind to be wet, dry, cold or warm. Guess that is a typical spring. After a good rain (and aren't we happy we finally had some), be extra careful stepping in any beds while you are cleaning up or deadheading so you don't squish the air out of the soil where you step. A board across the area or stepping stones are a good way to be able to work in the back of beds without taking the needed oxygen out of the soil. Stepping stones will usually be covered up by the foliage of perennials as they grow in the area and so will be virtually invisible in the summer.

...this is the time of year we are enjoying our bulbs blooming and then we deadhead them (do be sure to deadhead so they don't spend any energy setting seed) and then there is their foliage which we know needs to be left on so they will gather energy to bloom next year. This is a good time to feed them and then try to ignore how blah and wimpy the leaves look. Paperwhite foliage seems to just stay on forever without getting a hint of yellow fading so after about 3 weeks when the blooming is all done I just whack them off and they seem to come back blooming and happy the next year. When the foliage is yellow and fully exhausted you can usually just pull it right off the bulbs and no cutting is needed. But I often don't have that much patience and when I think they should have taken up enough food and energy for next year I do cut them off close to the ground. It is controversial whether folding or tying the foliage cuts off food to the bulbs and it is a lot of work - especially if it starves them. Most tulips are 'annuals' around here so don't worry about them resting and eating after bloom and just pull them up and enrich the compost pile with them.

...take pictures or make sketches of current bare spots where you'd like to fill in with blooming bulbs next year since when you go to plant the bulbs in late fall different plants are in bloom and expanded and what are holes then are not necessarily the same in the spring. If you are trying to match colors to foliage or other currently blooming plants make note of that since fall colors may be different too.

...just as our Plant Sale is in April, so are a lot of other organizations having plant sales too. On Sat., April 14, the Ruth Bancroft Gardens in Walnut Creek will have their plant sale from 10-3 (9-10 preview for members). At this sale you can see the succulents and cactus on tables next to where they grow in the ground to know how big they will get and what they will look like when mature.

...At any plant sale take notes about care and culture of what you buy. And if the sale is in SF, the peninsula, or Berkeley area note whether they will like our hot summers and cooler winters. There are many micro climates within a short distance around here and what loves Berkeley or SF may not survive in the Valley. Talk to the clerks and let them know where the plant will be planted and learn how fussy it is. That's one of the great things about our sale, you know the plants grew in the Valley and were successful.

...if you have plants that just aren't doing well or that you don't really like, now is a good time to take them out and think about getting something that you love. If you are trying to unclutter your life and/ or garden - focus on "deleting the things that are not your passion."

...this is a super planting time. Great time to plant tuberous begonias, dahlias, cannas, and vegetables

...the nurseries and various plant sales should be just bursting with choices of all kinds of perennials and annuals. This is the time of year you can buy plants in very small sizes and they will have plenty of good weather (let's hope!), moisture and warm soil to grow a sturdy root system. Our plant sale should have lots of good choices too and there will be garden club members there to assist you in your choices. Have a general idea of the area where you need the plant so you can tell how much sun, shade, water, etc it will have in its new location to make the choice more appropriate.

...watering can be tricky this time of year when we have warm or hot spells and then cool or maybe even rain. Don't just set the automatic system and forget it. It will probably need to be adjusted often as we head into more consistently warm weather. If you have plants that need good drainage this is the time of the year they can rot if kept too damp because the soil has not warmed up a whole lot yet but is warm enough to cause rot and the soil does not dry out and the roots and stems don't like to be wet all the time.

...I think all the frost/freezes are past so you can prune those tender plants that might have gotten nipped in earlier cold weather. Geraniums and lantana come to mind. Spring blooming shrubs can be shaped up and cleaned out after the bloom fades. For most plants, prune after bloom is a good rule of thumb. Just be sure that you aren't clipping off the buds for next year's bloom.

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