May 2016


News Archive

Betty Nostrand, Editor
Molly Fisher, Publisher

President's Letter

Well it's raining and I am stuck inside with no excuse for finishing obligations. Otherwise I would be outside in the garden "pimping it out" for the Garden Tour this weekend. You will receive this newsletter after a lot of fun events: Jim O'Laughlin's Garden opening for the EGG meeting, the Member's Garden Tour with 5 gardens in Livermore, and this year's Plant Sale. After the big rush for the plant sale between 9 and 10 I went home and took a nap. I missed half price for the first time in years. I have NO ROOM for more plants but I know that's Big Talk for a plant-aholic such as myself. We made a little more than last year with fewer expenses such as using borrowed tables instead of renting. Many thanks to everyone who helped on my set up and transportation committees - you all made a big difference. And a special thanks to Chris Carrano, Scoutmaster at St. Michael's in Livermore - the kids and I had fun moving plants and helping out in general. Helpful kids warm my heart and make me hopeful for the future.

I have been talking with the old and new Vice Presidents and arranging for a couple of Board Meetings. I have a lot to do before I hand responsibility over to the new board. This year was about building new beds and planting - Next year we should have a bountiful harvest. Now all this is assuming that the Membership approves the new slate in May. Although I would be shocked if there are any objections- anyone who objects can see me - I have a couple of jobs for them. No, in all seriousness we have an eager group of volunteers as we have always had in the past. We ARE the best garden club in the galaxy and it is because of our members. Thanks to all of you.

Tia Kay

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Misc. Items of Interest

...Some of you may remember the presentation about Food Security and Urban Agriculture that our own Debra Caldwell made to the EGG last June. She's happy to announce that in the Fall 2016 semester, at Chabot Community College in Hayward, she's offering two new courses in Agroecology (ENSC 15 and ENSC 15L). The 3 unit, online lecture course focuses on the science of growing food, the interactions of culture, human population growth, and major environmental challenges in the transition to sustainable agriculture and food systems. The lab, which can be taken concurrently, is for students who want to get their hands in the dirt and learn more practical aspects of growing food. Please contact Debra for more information.

...Let's Announce the Garden Club! Kim Billingsley is offering our daffodil logo in full color embroidered on your shirt, jacket, sweatshirt, for cost! Let's wear our garden club logo, at garden club events, around town, anywhere we go. You bring her your choice of clothing article. This 40% discount is for members only! A smaller logo for the chest is just $10 and the larger back logo is $15, for each one she does she will give $1 to the club. She is fitting these in between other jobs so expect a 2 week turn around. Get her your clothing item, and the appropriate payment (exact change please) and you can soon wear our garden club logo Loud and Proud! See the LAVGC Yearbook for Kim's contact information. (ed. Note: I have seen these and they are really colorful and pretty)

...16th Annual Danville-Alamo-Walnut Creek AAUW Garden Tour, Friday, May 6 and Saturday May 7, 10 AM - 4 PM each day. Details next month.

...don't forget to check the garden club website - for program details and pictures of recent garden club events.

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May the garden much to enjoy in the gardens these days! Nice of nature to give us some water now and then to keep it refreshed. We had quite a rainfall the day before I am writing this and it played havoc on the beautiful roses so now I need to get out and deadhead them so they can get busy on the next round of blooms. I don't want them to spend any energy on setting seeds or hips. I tend to shape a bit as I cut off the old blooms since the plants still have a lot of growth in them this time of year. Several of my roses only bloom once so I do shape them up quite a bit as I deadhead so they will look tidy the rest of the year.

...after they finish blooming is a good time to divide and replant iris. If the plant did not have many blooms this year and it has been in its spot for a few years it is telling you that it is time to divide the clump, or it is planted too deep, or else needs a sunnier spot. Dig up the whole clump, take out withered or damaged parts and break apart the clump so there is a leaf on each part. Don't replant too deep - you should see the top of the corm after it is planted. Lack of enough sun can also keep an iris from blooming so move them into a sunnier spot if they have been in the ground just a few years but have never bloomed.

...Trees and shrubs need deep watering and you can help this along this time of year by building basins around the base of them. You don't want the water to sit there during the winter and rot the trunks but as the soil warms up you need to have water there to soak in and encourage the plant to form deep roots so it can withstand the hot weather that is sure to come this summer.

...this intermittent rain is also ideal for weeds and snails and slugs. Keep on them. Especially try to get the weeds before they can form seed heads but if you didn't get to them soon enough try not to spread the seeds if you are shaking dirt off the roots. And do try to get the roots! Some 'weeds' like oxalis and shallow rooted weedy plants will die down in the summer heat naturally. As for snails and slugs, I try to pick and smush them as I find them in the garden. Wonderful reason to wear gloves. They love dark, warm places and tend often to live in daylilies and agapanthus at the base of the leaves. After a rain they often come out to look around and it is a great time to get them.

...Most bulb foliage should finally, finally be turning yellow and drying up. A gentle tug on the leaves should take them off the plant for disposal. You might want to put a decorative rock or stake there to show you where the bulbs are so you don't dig into them while planting annuals in the space over them for the summer. If bulbs need to be divided, as the foliage comes off is a good time. They have taken up what nourishment they need for next year and if they are too crowded or, again, not in enough sun, they won't bloom well next year. They usually don't like a whole lot of water in the summer so can go in hard to water spots that will get the rain water next fall and winter and be happy to bloom in the spring. Outside windows where you can see them from inside or under deciduous trees and/or shrubs is another good bulb planting area. It will be sunny but cold in the early spring when they are ready to bloom.

...expecting a rather dry, hot summer I am trying to be good about putting down mulch. I am moving my deodar cedar (I have two huge ones in my front yard) needles and duff off to areas that are open or need mulch. I have not paid attention to the droppings for several years so it is really deep (like 8-10 inches) and choking out some of the plants. I am putting it on a parking strip area hoping it will nurture the Calif. poppy seeds I put in there. I am also putting it over a narrow strip along a retaining wall that I let my yellow oxalis have its way as a harbinger of spring each year. The oxalis will die down but it looks pretty ratty and I am hoping the needle mulch will look a lot tidier. I can see what the mulch does because under that 8-10 inches it is wet even if we have not had rain for a while. And I like that something I might dispose of is being used for something I would otherwise have to buy. Do you have anything like that around your garden?

...I should give sort of a disclaimer here because for the last 15 years I have not been in California during the summer and have no idea exactly what my garden looked like after April! Nor did I really care. But this year we are here for the whole year! Exciting times to see what my lovely spring garden evolves to in the hot weather when all the spring flowers have done their thing. For a long time I have skipped over plants in the nursery if they bloomed after April and before Sept. That eliminates a lot of plants! But now I can look at them all. I had a grand time at our plant sale. Hot weather annuals like asters, cosmos, marigolds, petunias, and sunflowers can go in now. Maybe over the bare spots left by the removal of dying bulb foliage.

...with all the scare about zyka (sp?) virus and mosquitoes this summer - and we usually need to be careful about standing water and mosquitoes anyway- I read that one deterrent is to set out plants that mosquitoes seem to avoid around patios or other places that you gather. These plants include: lemon thyme, lavender, lemon balm, basil, lemon grass, catnip, rosemary, garlic and marigolds. Evidently they don't care to be around highly fragrant plants. Some lovely container plantings could be made out of these plants - pretty and practical! But do check saucers under containers or other low spots water could gather and dry them out. You can get mosquito fish larva from the county or use those dunk rings if you have a pond or area with standing water.

...right after they bloom is a good general rule for pruning and shaping spring blooming shrubs. In fact it is a good general rule for the time to prune most plants. Some plants like lilac, azaleas and rhododendrons are a bit tricky to prune and not cut off the budding parts no matter when you prune.

...time to pinch chrysanthemums back to about 12 inches. It will make them bushier and branchier and that way they can form more flower buds. This is true for many plants - sedum spectabile benefits from cutting back about half so that the flower stems don't get so long and gangly. And I hope you are still pinching back your fuchsias so they have more branches to flower on new growth.

...there are a lot of garden tours going on in May. Fun to see what plant combinations and how difficult areas are used. Just remember that we have a lot of different climates in the Bay Area so the gorgeous gardens you may see in Palo Alto may not do so well in the tri-valley area heat. Even Berkeley and Castro Valley have quite different heat and cold temperatures than we do. But you can note color and textural mixes and use plants suitable to our area in the same type of combination. Take good notes as you may forget that great idea when you get home. Ask permission before taking pictures. Talk to the home owners about questions or plants you don't recognize and aren't marked. Most gardeners love to talk about their gardens! And if it is a really exceptional garden, note the address and homeowners name so we could get in touch and maybe have a club tour there next fall or spring.

"Plant only the best forms of any plant. Plant thickly in the knowledge that where the gardener doesn't put a plant, nature will." - Lawrence Johnston

" Share plants with friends so that if your dies, you have a source of replacement. This is particularly important with anything rare and unusual." - Edward Augustus Bowles

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