February 2012

News Archive

Betty Nostrand, Editor
Ann Rivenes, Publisher

Co-President's Letter

Looking at the wetness outside, I can't help but feel elated to finally have some rain to offset the last two dry months. Glad also to see a break from the cold frosty nights. During the cold however, we still managed to carry on with interesting activities for our club.

As club members we have a lot to choose from during the month on what to attend. This is due to the hard work of our chair people. They make their event the best that they can but they are asking for your help. If you sign up at the meeting for something and can't make it, please let the chairperson know that you will not be there. The reverse is also true. They also need to know if you are coming. Sometime things need to be purchased or enough chairs, handouts or other items need to be provided. We as club members need to honor our commitments and if we haven't committed to something and want to attend we must let our chairs know. So starting as you read this, please let's do better on this front. We have lots of opportunities ahead of us to improve our communications. Let's vow to do this-- please.

Remember that this is the time to prepare for the plant sale. Get your plants potted up by division or plant seeds. Spring is just around the corner so support the club and buy a ticket for the SFGS for $16. Two dollars of which comes back to the club. We have a great February planned. So participate in all the events but remember to let the chairs know of your intent!

Enjoy and add a little romance to this leap year!

Sondra Bierre, Co-President

Misc. Items of Interest

...included with this newsletter are the additions to our Yearbook. Be sure to remove them, fold in half, and place in your yearbook to have the names and addresses of the members that have joined since the main yearbook was printed. If you don't have a Yearbook or see an error, please contact Marti Silva.

...There is a new gardening store in Dublin and they are offering a 15% discount to garden club members. The store is the Lucky Garden store at 7071 Village Parkway in Dublin (near the Post Office). The owners are Michael and Natalie Elola. They carry all sorts of hydroponic equipment and garden soil amendments - even the fabulous (according to Lee G.) Happy Frog potting soil that is not available anywhere else in the Valley.

...If you are in need of some of the following: four inch containers, gallon size containers, five gallon containers, seed starting trays, or flats to put up plants for our plants for our plant Sale in April (or even your own use this Spring), please e-mail Lois Barber letting her know what you would like. She can bring them to the meeting or you may pick them up.

...Many thanks to Jacquie at Alden Lane Nursery for her very generous January plant of the month. The lovely pink Yuletide camellia was won by Dean Burnett. The lovely purse light, also donated by Alden Lane, was won by Dan Reasor. Enjoy them, guys! Our February Plant of the Month will kindly be donated by Western Garden Nursery.

...Registration is now open for the free Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour, which will take place Sunday, May 6, 2012, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at various locations throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Participants on the eighth annual, free, self-guided Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour can choose from fifty showcase native plant gardens. The delightful collection of gardens offered this year range from large in the hills lots to small front gardens in the flats, and from those professionally designed to those designed by homeowners. Garden styles run the gamut-from restoration gardens containing local native plants to the Horticulturally available suite of natives from throughout California, and from gardens designed and installed by owners to those designed and installed by professionals. Please register or volunteer at http://www.bringingbackthenatives.net/

February Forays........in the garden

...hooray we finally did get some rain. Let's hope it continues at regular intervals. That gives us time to get out and clean up wind and rain damage and get all those roses and evergreens and shrubs pruned between showers. It is a good time to cut back perennials before new growth begins. So much easier to just whack off the whole top of the plant than try to work around new growth. It is the time to cut back Artemesia to the lowest area of tiny new growth. If you wait to do this in a couple months somehow they never seem to recover properly. Just be sure whatever plant you are whacking back likes that. Plants like lavender do not want to be cut back severely. Just cut off the bloom stalks and maybe a bit of the growth.

...and I'll remind you again that if plants got frost/freeze damage, don't mess with them yet. There is probably more cold weather to come. Our last frost date here is supposedly March 15 (although sometimes Mother Nature fails to get that memo) so wait until then to tidy up plants so their frosted foliage can protect the plant from further damage.

...now is the time to plant hardy annuals and perennials like calendulas, primroses, pansies, snapdragons and violas. When the calendulas bloom (and bloom and bloom) you can use the petals as a decoration in soups and salads as they are edible. I think the pansy and viola flowers are too.

...this is the time to prune fuchsias, hibiscus and lantana although I think that if the frost really blitzed your lantana and it is not some exotic variety, just buy a new one. They take forever to recover and come back. This is a good time to plant tuberous begonias in peat pots and transplant them in April to their final growing spot when they have rooted.

...and of course clean up spent camellia and azalea blossoms because they not only look tacky but they can spread petal blight. After they finish blooming give them a good shot of food so they set lots of flowers for next year. Both plants like acid soil so I give them a shot of coffee or tea leftovers now and then.

...remember not to fall in love with plants you see on websites and in magazines or advice they give that is mainly written for east coast gardeners. Horticulture magazine comes to mind. Their mulch advice started out with "after the ground freezes"...........sometimes we've wondered this year but not really likely to happen around here. You also need to wonder if the plants they suggest will survive our hot, dry summers in alkaline soil.

Things to do over the winter if the rain does start and you can't work outside...
(or you're like me and get catatonic in the cold - which I think is 50 or below)

  1. Journal about the successes and failures of this past season's garden, making note of plants that performed well and ideas to try next year. Note garden resolutions in the journal and refer to them during the year.
  2. Force bulbs that will bloom indoors and bring a breath of spring's aromatherapy to soothe your soul during the months that it is not fun to work outside. Hyacinth and narcissus will do nicely if you can still find the bulbs.
  3. Grow herbs on the kitchen counter. Keep it simple and just grow rosemary and thyme from young plants. You can try new recipes, and sometimes simply rub your hands through the rosemary and b r e a t h e deeply.
  4. Come February, and with the help of a grow light, try starting edibles from seed. What's the easiest I wonder? You can ask at the edible gardening workshop on Jan. 14.
  5. Read and learn more about gardeners who have left their mark on the gardening community. You might be interested in Gertrude Jekyll, Frederick Law Olmsted and Elizabeth Lawrence. Sidney Eddison has a great book out on simplifying gardening as you age.
  6. Create a bucket list of gardens to visit. Filoli is nearby (Woodside) and there is a lot going on at Chanticleer in Philadelphia. Add in Europe and the list could be huge! Note local private gardens if you can and maybe we can arrange to take a tour there. Visit Arboretums and Gardens.
Livermore Valley Garden Club (LAVGC) serving the Tri-Valley: Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton, Sunol, and San Ramon