May 2014

News Archive

Betty Nostrand, Editor
Ann Rivenes, Publisher

Co-President's Letter

At our May Club meeting we will be celebrating our Club's thirtieth year. LAVGC was founded in 1984. Bernice Oakley has planned a special program to mark the Club's anniversary. Come and enjoy the festivities.

At the meeting we will also hold elections for our 2014-2015 Executive Board. In April the Nominating Committee (Karen Abbruscato, Tia Allman, and Robbie Ridenour) announced nominees for the Executive Board. Nominees are Co-President--Tom Jefferson, Co-President--Bill MacFarland, VP Meetings and Organization--Tia Kay Allman, VP Community Service--Debra Howell, VP Special Interests--Gayle Pawloski, Recording secretary--Judy Person, Corresponding Secretary--Sue Farr, and Treasurer--Marti Silva. Norma Foss will be "Treasurer-in-training", since Marti Silva has said that 2014-2015 will be her 18th and final year as Treasurer. I would like to thank all these people who have agreed to serve our club.

If you happened to have missed April's club meeting you might want to go to our website (, click on Annual Plant Sale on the left, and then click on "Enjoy our slide show!" under Annual Plant Sale. You will then be able to enjoy Ichi Yamaoda's wonderful slide show presentation of our April plant sale. Thanks, Ichi.

Water this year will be a scarce resource, due to the lack of rain in what should have been our rainy season. Let's all be models for our neighbors by reducing our water usage, by not using overhead sprinklers during the hot periods of the day, and by being careful to conserve. Some spot hand watering should allow us to stretch out the times between major watering.

Finally, recall that membership renewals are payable May 1 and delinquent August 1. Look for a renewal form in the May newsletter, on our website (, or at our May Meeting.

Happy thirtieth and Happy gardening, Tom Jefferson - Co President

Misc. Items of Interest

...SOIL KNIVES AND NITRILE GLOVES: For sale at the meeting will be Deluxe soil knives at $18.00, regular knives with sheath are $18.00 sold as a set. Knife blades are the highest quality of stainless steel from Italy. Nitrile gloves are $6.25 each, in all sizes. Those who do not plan to attend the meeting can contact Connie Darocha.

...if you find any of the colored plant price markers in the plants that you bought at our plant sale, please return them to Sondra Bierre at the next meeting. The more that we get back, the less we will need to replace for next year.

...Here is information on the Herb Society Conference taking place here in Concord in June. The Herb Society of America (HSA) has their annual Educational Conference in Concord June 19-22. This is the first time the HSA has had the annual meeting in California for 30 years, and during the two day general meeting June 20-21 there will be two days of talks focusing on growing herbs in California and the 'California experience' (think wine, food and olive oil!). HSA is opening up registration for the general meeting to all, so even if you are not a member you have an opportunity to attend the conference. Become a member of HSA for even more enjoyment of the conference, including some terrific tours. Our local unit of HSA meets once a month in Pleasant Hill, and it is always a good chance to learn more about herbs, gardening and of course, food! Membership includes many other benefits, including the Reciprocal Admissions Program at many arboretums, conservatories and gardens around the US. Click here for the Herb Society Conference flyer.

May the garden

...I am writing this before our Member Garden Tour and there is a slight prediction of rain but we will tour and be doing a happy rain dance if the prediction is true! I hope a lot of you went to see the gardens because the hosts work hard to get the whole garden looking lovely at the same time to share with our members and their friends. Thanks to the hosts - Jeri Stark, Peggy Smith, Norma Foss, Karen and Tom Jefferson, and Gail Bryan for opening their gardens, to the greeters who sat in the gardens to assist the owners, and to Sandy Yamaoda for organizing it all.

...and aren't gardens great this time of year! The saying may be true that "honey, anyone can do Spring!" but mother nature seems to have outdone herself this year. Drought and freeze or no. Another factor is that I don't usually get to see local gardens in May because we are off to Colorado but this year we are going later.

...the bulb foliage is really irritating by now and maybe you have braided or folded it over just to get it out of the way, especially if it flops over onto a path. I read somewhere that after 4 weeks it is done providing nourishment to the bulbs for next year so you can cut it off. I did that last year before I left with my paperwhites and they seemed perfectly happy to bloom again this year. Of course remembering just when they bloomed and if it was 4 weeks ago is something to note down for next time.

...our 'frost dates' are well past so anything that froze or got singed in the frosts can be cut back now and if it shows no sign of new growth anywhere on the plant, the odds are that it is a goner and you have a perfect excuse to go out and buy another plant.

...on the other hand, the lack of rain makes you think twice about putting in very many new plants - natives or not - because the new ones all need more water and attention until they get their roots established so maybe it is time to think garden art. Fill that blank spot with an old watering can, elf statue (if that's your thing), rock, stepping stone (good to hold moisture under it and near it and protect the bed if you want to step into it), picturesque empty pot, or whatever strikes your fancy. Doesn't need to be anything you absolutely love and want to be permanent because hopefully next year will include moisture and you can put in new plants guilt free. If the area is good sized you might want to put down newspaper on the bare soil, cover it with mulch, and then add the garden art so it is not open to weeds.

...the weeds do not seem to be deterred by freeze or drought either. Keep plucking them out so that they are not stealing any of the precious water that you put on your plants. Really thick mulch helps to prevent weeds from sprouting and it also keeps moisture in the soil near the plant roots. I am using the 'duff' from my deodar cedars (and they produce tons of it every year) to put around my plants in other parts of the garden for mulch. It also adds a bit of an acidic balance to the soil too. I wouldn't want to use the leaves from my modesto ash that got anthracnose - again! - for fear it might share it with other plants, but any leaf or needle droppings from healthy plants, shrubs, or trees should make a good mulch. If you can run the lawn mower over the leaves and droppings and break them up a bit, so much the better. Of course a compost pile is really the best source of mulch but we don't all have a space for that or get it all turned and sifted for use if we do have one. sure to rebuild watering basins around plants to hold in any rain we do get or if you are watering by hand so the water doesn't run off and stays around the roots. Of course the aim of watering is seldom and deep so roots go deep in the soil and can stand longer and hotter dry periods - which probably sums up what the summer will be like.

...if you have calla lilies or alstromeria (Peruvian lily) blooms that you want to use in arrangements or are past their prime, remember to pull them out rather than cut them. Better for the plant and you don't end up with deflowered stalks sticking up. Grab the stems as far down as you can and yank. They usually come out pretty easily that way. May there are lots of garden tours. We don't have room to list them all but you can see information about many of them on our website ( or in local papers. On garden tours take notes freely but be sure to ask before you take pictures. Most owners love to talk about their gardens (don't we all!) and will happily share insights about the plant and where they got it. Just be sure if you are touring in another part of the Bay Area to remember about our mini-climates and what thrives on the Peninsula might not do so well around here. Even Danville gets nearly twice as much rain as we do on any given year.


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