January 2016


News Archive

Betty Nostrand, Editor
Molly Fisher, Publisher

President's Letter

Tia here, sending out a plea - think about being President or Vice President for next year. We have a club full of Past Presidents and none of them have suffered permanent damage that I know of, in fact they are some of the most active members that we have. The idea that has been discussed has been for a Past President to step forward for one year and a Co-President/" President in Training" to volunteer for a two-year term, with a new "President in Training" to join for their 2nd term. Much easier that way. We have really been getting organized and will be able to turn the club over wrapped up fairly tight. And you will have three Vice Presidents to help with everything. This year has been very satisfying despite the challenges of change because there were four of us who shared everything there was to do. "Many hands make light work" as they say.

Next up is our Board Meeting in January which you will hear more about elsewhere in this Newsletter (see page 2). We will be approving the suggestions which came out of the Visions Workshop many of us participated in. Then we can present these suggestions to a vote of the Membership in February and March. Don't want to burden all of you with too much democracy, but these are changes that are important and you all will be able to approve or not before any of these go into effect.

When I finish this letter I can devote myself to Christmas full time. The house is looking quite festive and there is hardly a surface unadorned. Nothing makes me happier than creating beauty around me. As cold as it is today, I'm going to the garden to harvest greens only, with everything safe from frosts under their canopies of plastic and Agribon. Seed catalogs are arriving and I'm already making room for my trays and lights. There is always something fun to do. Wishing you and yours a Happy, Fun and Beautiful Holiday season and I will see you all next Year.

Tia Kay

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Misc. Items of Interest

...Seed Share will re-open mid-January at the Pleasanton Library and some of our seeds will be available on Make a Difference Day on January 16.

...Mt Diablo Rose Society, Wed., Jan. 13, at7:30, Dublin Civic Center Regional Room - 100 Civic Plaza, Dublin. Speaker is Stephen Scanniello who is a gardener, rosarian, historian, and raconteur. He will talk about his most recent book called "A Rose By Any Name", which reveals the stories behind rose names. He will be selling and autographing books. Come and enjoy what will be a fantastic talk.

...Sacramento Historic Rose Garden Clinic on Pruning Climbing Roses, Sat., Jan. 16, 9 AM and 1 PM, 1000 Broadway, Sac.. Learn how to prune climbing roses from an expert - Stephen Scanniello who is curator of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the N Y Botanical Garden and author of "Climbing Roses". He will hold 2 clinics on Sat. at 9 AM and 1 PM, both free. No reservations required.

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January juggling.................in the garden

...if the predicted El Nino comes full force in January we will be planning any garden work around the storms. Just remember that beds will need to dry out and are very tender when the soil is wet and it is easy to squish out all the oxygen from the soil if you step on it. Use boards or wide flat surfaces to lay on the soil to spread out the pressure. If you leave the boards in place overnight it will probably be a nice collector of snails and slugs you can wipe off and dispose of the next day. And if the weather is wet but not freezing you can be sure the snails and slugs will be back in force. Try to get them early and often so they don't reproduce (which they can do prolifically) and cause an even greater problem.

...we are coming into prime rose pruning time. If you are new to California or mildish winters you probably are used to pruning them in March or April but our roses are already in bloom by then. We have several workparties going on this month where you can help prune or go and learn from some more experienced rose pruners - and we have a lot of those! There are a number of pruning philosophies but luckily the roses are usually so happy here that they flush out and bloom no matter what you do to them. Although it is tedious it is a good idea to remove all leaves from the bushes because although they look great now, by the time the lovely new blooms come out the old leaves will look quite tatty . Plus it is a good way to remove hidden bugs and bacteria on the leaves.

...if you have one of the hardy hibiscus, hibiscus syriacus, that are so dazzling when they bloom, this is a good time to give them a shaping clip. They don't really need to be pruned every year to encourage blooms but you can control its height and spread and cut out any damaged branches. You can trim and shape almost any summer or fall blooming shrub or plant now to keep it the size you want. Don't touch spring blooming plants as you will be cutting off the blooms.

...if our weather does remain cold and frost and/or Freeze warnings are out you can leave your twinkly Christmas tree lights on tender plants or move them to tender plants or else put jugs of water near tender plants so the water will heat during the day and then shed heat in the evening. Shrubs and most plants do better in freezing weather if they are not in dry soil. Succulents are fine in dry soil and if any type of moisture comes down on them they may get soggy so basically don't water them until spring or later. If some of your plants look frozen don't be hasty to take them out or trim off the dead parts. You may be surprised what will come back with warm weather. Plus the dead foliage may protect the rest of the plant from future frosts. All tenderish plants like geraniums and lantana should not be pruned until frost dates are past - usually about March 15 around here.

...you can use needles from Christmas trees or other fir trees (like my deodar cedar) to mulch around acid loving plants. With our water and soil pretty alkaline, almost all plants enjoy some acid mulch, but camellias, azaleas, fuchsias, are really appreciative of the acidy blanket.

...thinking toward spring and summer you can start planting gladiolas at two week intervals to have blooms all summer. Cut back and divide chrysanthemums (remember our plant sale!) and divide crowded clumps of day lilies, Shasta daisies and agapanthus. If your perennials didn't bloom as much last year and if there is sort of a bare patch right in the midst of a clump you can be sure it is time to divide. Well, I guess if you didn't water the plants much that would also deter blooming but you know if the plant is overcrowded or been in the ground for a long time.

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