April 2013

News Archive

Betty Nostrand, Editor
Molly Fisher and Ann Rivenes, Publishers

Co-President's Letter

We have just a few more weeks to prepare for our major fundraiser of the year- our April 27th Plant Sale. The revenues from this sale help to fund many of the programs and activities enjoyed by all of our members-monthly speaker and meeting fees, subsidies for our community outreach projects (Pleasanton Sensory Gardens, YMCA Camp Arroyo, Hansen Park, Arbor Day to name a few), and helps with our Special Interest Groups. It would be great if each and every member helped out in some way. You could take or send flyers to friends, relatives and businesses you frequent; donate a plate of snacks for our workers; make your vehicle available to transport plants; donate a few plants or white elephants for the sale; and spend a couple hours the day before or day of the sale in pricing, set up, work during the sale, and clean up. We'll have sign ups at the meeting or call and sign up for a shift. Please show your support and pitch in with fellow garden club members.

Are you loving daylight savings time as much as I am. It is great to get a few more chores done before heading in for dinner. If you need anything for your garden, make sure to visit Lucky Garden, Western Garden Nursery and Alden Lane Nursery. They all have been so generous and helpful to our club. Tell them how much we appreciate them and spend your hard earned dollars there!

Our next meeting features a talk by Ernie Wasson from Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz. He will talk about that huge genus Salvias. We can look forward to another very interesting evening. See you there!

Tina Higashi, Co-president

April Activities........in the garden

....Wow! Isn't Spring fun!! Everything is coming alive and bursting forth in new growth and lushness. The aphids have noticed it too but they will attract birds and other hungry predators like ladybugs so there will be even more diversity in your garden. If they are really doing damage to your plants, you can wipe them off with a gloved hand or a spray of water. No need to get all chemical.

....Remember to control the new growth if it is going in the wrong direction (at least according to what you planned) by snapping the new shoot off. This is especially true of roses growing on a fence or wall but is pretty much true for any shrub or large plant.

....if you haven't already, it is time to prune your geraniums (or pelargonium, as the case may be). All the frosts and freezes should be past (could be a rash statement in our changing weather patterns) so by the time new growth gets going it will be warmer weather. I find mine bloom better in the cooler weather and when the summer gets very hot they don't have nearly as many flowers, if any. That's when you're glad you bought the ones with interesting foliage. But when the weather cools down in the fall they will start blooming again. I don't get the little worms I used to get on them which also devoured the buds as they were forming. The worms don't like the cool weather and that is also why the plants are able to bloom more then too.

....the bulb foliage remains are starting to bother me but I know I need to leave them on to give nourishment to the bulbs for next year. This is a good time to fertilize them as they are forming the blooms for next year now. You should break off the spent blooms so that they don't waste any energy forming seed heads. I've found you can get a long blooming time with a variety of daffodil types and I still have some just getting ready to bloom so that distracts me from the floppy foliage of those that are already past. Wasn't Boot Hill a sight to behold again this year? I hope Jack Pons and all his helpers last fall know how much everyone appreciates their work. At least every time I drive by there are people frolicking in the bulbs.

....I've been trying to get a variety of spring bulbs so that there is always something about to bloom. I did get a lot of hyacinth bulbs this year and put them in pots but will take them and put them in the ground for next year. I do this after they finish blooming and don't wait until the foliage dries because they can get nourishment from the ground to form their blooms. Hyacinth do repeat well for me. They bloom early before any of the tulips or daffodils. I also have Camassia and they repeat well plus ixia and sporaxia. They've just come out. Early bloomers are the Star of Bethlehem (loves to spread but comes and goes so quickly I don't mind) and snowflakes (leucojum). All of these come back year after year in my garden.

....this is a great time to plant annuals and perennials. Along with our Plant Sale (where you can find some really special plants along with more mundane ones at bargain prices), other groups are having plant sales now too - May 4, for the SF Botanical Gardens and Markham Arboretum, and the Dahlia Society of California's Tuber and Cutting sale will be Saturday, April 20 @ 9:30 am at 9th and Lincoln in SF at the Hall of Flowers.

....also this time of year there are many Garden Tours. We'll be having a tour of 4 of our members' gardens on May 19 (Sun. 1-4). On April 28 (Sun., right after our Plant Sale) is the Bay Friendly Garden Tour which will feature Lee Giroux's garden. On May 4 and 5 is the Gamble Garden Tour in Palo Alto. These are usually in old Palo Alto and within walking distance of each other. That Sunday, May 5, is the Bringing Back the Natives Tour which will feature among many, Beth Clark's garden in Pleasanton. Many, many groups have tours in April and May. Check times and details by going to their websites.

....as soon as spring flowering shrubs finish their show is the best time to prune them. Remember the 3 D's - Dead, diseased, and design (not sure that is the third D but it is something like that). Take out any dead or damaged branches right away and then look for branches crossing other branches or directly across the center of the plant. If you are trying to keep it from coming out into a walkway cut any branches that are heading straight out. Or any branches that are heading in a direction that you don't like - maybe a stem sticking way up high or out to one side or another. You don't want it to look like a lollipop but some plants are not necessarily naturally gracefully shaped. Certain plants like the beauty berry (callicarpa), buddleia, and hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon) can be cut way, way back if you want to keep them within a certain area because they bloom on new growth.

....this is also a good time (as is almost any time of the year) to give daylilies a cutting back to about 4 inches. You'll be amazed at how fast they are full sized again. When the plants are cut back it is a good chance to search them for snails which just love to live among their leaves. If you are going to put out some Sluggo this is a good place to do it.

....this is a time that snails and slugs are eyeing all the new growth and blooms too. Try to get them now so they don't have time to multiply (which they may have already done). Check under pots and under any foliage hanging over walls and under lips and ledges of raised beds. Certain plants attract them (see above) to live in although they don't necessarily eat those plants. If you've let leaves fall and mulch your plants you may find them under those leaves. If you have prized potted plants that are tasty to them you can put a layer of grit or some sharp substance on the top that will hurt them to crawl over. There are mixed reviews of how effective copper is. Of course in the evening or very early morning is the best time to catch them out of their hiding places. After a rain or drizzle (remember those?) is an especially good hunting time too.

....you can start watering succulents again. Maybe once a week or less. Hope you held off on the water all winter. Take off any dead leaves on the plant, even if it makes a long stem on the bloom. Fun thing to do for your kids or grandkids (although I'm having a good time doing it too) - place a leaf you pluck or break off (maybe by accident) from a favorite plant on a window sill. No soil or anything, and it will start to form roots in about 3 weeks. Then you can place them on a soil filled six pack until more roots form and they get to be a real plant. Good way to 'clone' any succulents you just love or to get a lot of plants if you want to line a walk or cover a hillside or something.

....you can start pinching back chrysanthemums this month to promote bigger blooms and more compact plants in the fall.

....put in tuberous begonias, dahlias, gladiolas, callas and cannas. Tuberous begonias are great in pots and require some watering attention but reward you with such glorious blooms all summer and fall. Dahlias are planted a little differently (deep trench that you fill in gradually) but again the blooms rewards are worth it all. Check your garden book (Sunset or whatever) for complete directions on these two plants.

....have you been to the garden club website lately? It is at lavgc.org. Lynn MacFarland, our webmaster, does a great job of posting all our club activities but also has many, many other garden related things going on in the Bay Area. She has room for many things that will not fit into the newsletter.

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