May 2012

News Archive

Betty Nostrand, Editor
Ann Rivenes, Publisher

Co-President's Letter

It's May! It's May- the merry month of May! This is a time of jubilation as we have successfully completed another Plant Sale! With the help of fellow chairs Sondra Bierre and Connie Archer and the myriad of worker bees throughout our club, we've offered another service to our community. We sold loads of wonderful plants and white elephants which grossed us more than $6000! It was a tremendous effort from all involved and huge thanks goes out to all!

May is typically the month filled with garden club tours to inspire us to create better gardens and plant sales galore to fill our garden beds. If you still haven't found that "just right" plant be sure to patronize our local nurseries- Alden Lane in Livermore and Western Garden in Pleasanton. They both have been so generous in supplying the "Plant of the Month" for alternate months. Alden Lane wowed us with the six plants raffled after our recent talk from Monrovia rep Nicholis Staddon. They also supply the truck which helps to transport many of the plants for our sale. Arie from Western Garden added a great selection of trees and shrubs and annuals for our sale. We are indeed lucky to have such great neighbors and supporters!

The Diablo Foothills District Luncheon is just around the corner on Thursday, May 24th.(See page 3) We have three members nominated for the "Gardener of the Year Award." It would be great to have many members in attendance to help them celebrate if they win this award. It should be a lovely event with a picnic at Heather Farms in Walnut Creek. More details in the newsletter and sign ups at the meeting.

As our gardens burst forth into bloom, let's share our most beautiful flower/foliage at our flower show at our May meeting. Bring something to share in a small vase with your name and the name of the flower/plant to display at our Gardeners' Forum table.

See you on May 10th when we will hear about Succulents from Ernesto Sandoval from UC Davis.

Tina Higashi, Co President

Misc. Items of Interest

...Nile Runge showed us at the meeting how he cut down a walker to be of assistance in the garden to get up and down when working outside. A great use for un-needed walkers! Call or e-mail Nile for more details.

...the next Tour for the Mediterranean Plant Group is a trip to UC Santa Cruz to see the Proteas and they are best in April or May, the Banksia are blooming now but the Proteas are so much more plentiful then and truly amazing. Details next month.

...there will be no meeting of the Edible Gardening Group in March. regular Floral Design Group meeting in March but they will be going to Campbell on March 7 at 11:30 to see a floral demonstration from 1-3 p.m. Meet at the Bernal Safeway parking lot in Pleasanton. Contact Lynn MacFarland for more details.

...CGCI will hold a Wildflower Conference from April 4-6 in Palmdale, CA. Fee is $115 and includes registration, all lectures and speakers, 1 lunch, 1 dinner, tour and a box lunch for the tour. One day registration with lunch on April 5 is $25. For more details and the schedule contact Tina Higashi

...Sondra Bierre was interviewed by Jane from district on the form that we filled out here concerning points for what the club does. We made the grade and will be honored with another year of being a blue ribbon club. Thought you might like to know.

...Rice Hulls - If you would like to use rice hulls to lighten up soil or mulch, please contact Jim O'Laughlin. Jim is selling them for $10 a yard.


.........spring has certainly outdone herself this year although the pop of high heat sped the spring bulb blooms on to oblivion. Just be sure to deadhead them so that all the energy will go into making more blooms for next year and not into making seedheads. This is when companion planting (so that a perennial is coming awake next to the bulb foliage and will camouflage it while the leaves die down and the perennial booms up), really pays off.

.........this is a great time to buy plants and let's hope you got lots at our plant sale and now they need to be put in the ground or in pots. For ground planting, be sure the plant and the ground is well soaked before planting. If it is a fairly large plant, dig the hole (as deep as the roots and twice as wide) and then fill it with water to see how well it drains. It the plant requires good drainage and the water doesn't flow out quickly put the plant on sort of a mound when you put it in. In most diagrams or videos they are planting the plant in an area with about 4 feet of bare ground on all sides. My garden is not like this. Usually I am cramming the plant into whatever space I have in a culturally suitable area for the plant and trying not to stand on other plants while I dig. I have tons of roots in the soil so I just dig the hole as best I can and most existing plants don't mind their roots being pruned a bit to get a hole big enough (or almost big enough - whatever I can do) for the newcomer. Tamp the soil down as you fill the hole so air pockets are squished out and then water it very well again to get all the air pockets out. If it is a tree or shrub and you can manage it, make sort of a berm around the plant so it will hold more water. Watch the plant during the first days in its new home and be sure it is well watered and doesn't dry out.

.........if you are planting in a pot be sure the container is big enough and has lots of soil below the current roots so the plant can grow and fill in. In our hot summers (or at least they used to be) clay or porous pots dry out quickly and it is great to plant in a plastic pot and then sink it in the clay pot with soil between them if the size is not exact. Put mesh screen or coffee filters in the bottom to keep the soil from rushing out the holes (the pot does have holes, doesn't it?) and slugs and snails from rushing in to lurk. The old rule about using shards of pottery in the bottom has been proven to be ineffectual in aiding drainage - some physics principle that I can never remember. If it is a really big container and you are going to use plastic pellets or something in the bottom to make it lighter just be sure you still have plenty of soil between roots and filler because the filler will retain water and may rot the roots. Another physics principle that I won't try to explain. Be sure the large planter is where it will stay before you start filling it up with soil. Use good potting soil and water the plant in well.

.........this is a good time to prune camellias and give them a shot of fertilizer after they finish blooming. Any balanced fertilizer should do. Other fertilizer additions should be made in July and Sept. Prune mostly for shape and size and if you want it to go natural the plant is perfectly happy if you don't prune it at all.

Misc. Items of Interest

....for those who were at the 4MLB and interested in the location of the Blue Star Memorial in San Ramon, here are the directions, take 680 north to Bollinger Canyon Rd and head West, turn right on San Ramon Blvd., then left at Talavera Rd., park in the playground lot at Bollinger Canyon Memorial Park. It is a very short walk to the flagpoles and the Memorial.

....Lafayette Garden Club is having their Plant Sale on Thurs., May 10 at 10 a.m. at the Our Savior Lutheran Church at 1035 Carol Lane, Lafayette.

....The S.F. Botanical Garden (Strybing) is having their big Plant Sale on May 4 and 5. Just be sure to tell them the plants will be living in the hot and cold Tri Valley area.

....websites to try this month: - This web site has quite an extensive video library. Go to "Gardening Help" and click on video library. I watched the one on "How to Grow Roses." It was excellent, showing with actual photos how to plant and care for roses. This web site is an excellent resource. - "Put Your Garden on the Map" is an interesting project that can help you map your garden. Gardeners are usually bird lovers as well as plant enthusiasts. You can combine both of these interests in a citizen science project. Read all about it under YardMap. It lets individuals use satellite imagery to draw a map of their yards and gardens.

Also check out "Ordering Seeds and Plants" under Themed gardens-Edible Landscaping. - Click on Garden Gate and you will be able to view a slide show on saving money and time at the garden center and buying the best plants.

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