January 2012

News Archive

Betty Nostrand, Editor
Ann Rivenes, Publisher

Co-President's Letter

Happy New Year to all of you! I can't believe another year has already flown by. I do hope that you had a very enjoyable holiday with family and friends. Weren't the lights of the valley spectacular this year? It seems that more and more families are decorating to beat the winter blues. I'm all for it!

Have you made some resolutions for 2012? If getting more exercise was on your list, come out on January 7th to Pleasanton Gardens to help trim some roses or go to Alden Lane Nursery on the 16th to help with the 1st Street Pots. Your help is always appreciated at the Sensory Gardens and Camp Arroyo as well. You will be helping our community in addition to stretching and moving. If learning a new skill is more your speed, try a session with the Floral Design Group or attend the next Edible Gardening workshop. Western Garden Nursery will have pruning workshops three weekends in January and the Garden of Grace Learning Series will be held again this month. If traveling was on your "to do" list try one of our day tours or sign up the next time our Mediterranean Plant group goes on an outing. If you wanted to spend more time for yourself, meeting people, or just having more fun try attending the 4th Monday Lunch Bunch, come to our meetings or call a garden club member and plan a day in a garden. There are so many more opportunities coming up this year, I hope you will keep an open mind and try many different activities with us. We are so happy that you choose to be a part of our garden club and hope we can provide inspiration and information for your gardening pleasure.

Get ready for another interesting program on January 12th as Master Gardener Janet Miller comes to talk about Non Toxic Rodent Control. Fill out your sign up sheet during the meeting for a chance to win our plant of the month which will be donated compliments of Alden Lane Nursery.

Tina Higashi, Co-President

Misc. Items of Interest

...The Survey results are in! We have been collecting the surveys about best meeting night dates via paper ballots and email ballots since mid September. The purpose of the survey was to get a sense of your preference for meeting dates if we were to change in the future. The top choice was to keep the meetings on the 2nd Thursday of the month with 40 first choice votes. Tied for 2nd were the 1st Thursday and 2nd Tuesday with 22 votes each.

So it looks like we will keep our meetings just as they are. Thank you for your participation.

...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 at LMBLMB@msn.com or leave a message at 925-443-0765 letting her know what you would like. She can bring them to the January meeting or you may pick them up.

January Joys........in the garden

"if our rainy season has started and it looks like it has", that's how I started off last month and, boy, was I wrong! Maybe January will be a wet month. I hope you have been watching your plants and keeping them watered. You do need to check down a few inches because often the top can dry out but down deeper it will be nice and moist. This is especially true of new trees or shrubs. Often their demise is from over watering and not from a lack of water. Using a thick mulch helps keep the lower soil moist.

...Watch your bulbs if you planted them in pots. They don't like to dry out, especially once the tips have started pushing out of the soil. Really this is true of bulbs anywhere - they need moisture once they start to grow and if nature doesn't provide it, we need to do it. I have daffodils and paperwhites already in bloom and I'm hardly out there to see them!

...Our afternoons seem to be nice but the nights have really been cold. This will tell you how hardy your plants are and also the cold spots in the garden. If you have a lot of frost/cold damage don't prune or cut back anything yet. The blackened foliage helps protect the rest of the plant from further damage if the cold continues. A spraying of Cloud Cover product will help protect the foliage from the cold.

...As you can tell from all the classes being offered January is the month to prune roses and many trees and shrubs. Nearly all the nurseries have free classes and you can gain rose pruning expertise by coming to workparties to help out. The Pleasanton gardens work party is the Saturday before our meeting but that is a great place to watch experienced pruners work and learn from them. You will probably also learn that there are many, many ways to prune roses and everyone has their favorite method and the roses, bless their hearts, are hardy enough to survive around here whatever we do to them - including not pruning them at all.

...You can cut back and divide chrysanthemums later in the month. They are happier if they are divided almost every year - at least if you want the big showy blooms next fall. You can safely divide day lilies, Shasta daisies and agapanthus now too. Remember it's time to also pot up a few as you divide them for our April Plant Sale so they will be well established by sale time and have a good root system in their pot.

...Speaking of agapanthus - there are so many different colors and types that are not generally sold in our local nurseries, or if they are, they are in huge containers and cost a fortune. This is something you might look for in catalogs - McClure and Zimmerman have a great number to choose from. I love the deep, deep blue/purple colors. They grow well around here and so far mine (new last spring) have not frozen.

...If you are interested in attracting butterfly caterpillars (and therefore butterflies) to your garden, here are some plants to be incorporating into your garden now. Milkweed (Asclepias spp.) for Monarchs in particular but adults of many species feed on the flowers; Aster, Wild buckwheat (Eriogonum spp) adults of many species feed on the flowers; lupine for the silvery blue and common blue butterfly; currant and gooseberry for the tailed copper and anglewings; mallows (Sidalcea spp.) for the Gray airstreak, west coast Lady and Painted Lady; willow for the Western tiger swallowtail, mourning cloak and lorquin's admiral; stinging nettle (can also be used for cooking) for the west coast lady, red admiral, and Satyr anglewing. Not all of these plants are suitable for the refined garden but great in a back corner or other 'out of the way' spot. And the caterpillars often eat the plans to the nub.

...This is when I prune by Rose of Sharon (hibiscus syriacus) way back to the trunk. It is an extremely hardy plant for me and blooms all summer and into the fall. It doesn't seem to be finicky about water and grows in part shade and full sun (I have two). It gets to about 6-8 feet tall each summer but I cut it down to about a 3 foot stump each year. The cut branches stay pliable forever and would make excellent cages to keep leggy plants from falling over. That is if I ever get around to actually doing that! The flowers are profuse and are pink to red, double or single, but don't make good cut flowers.

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