February 2021


News Archive

Betty Nostrand, Editor

Molly Fisher, Publisher

President's Letter

Greetings LAVGC members
Hope all is well with you and you’re staying safe and healthy.  I also hope you had a chance to join us on January 14 for the great presentation on Keeping Your Gardening Tools in top shape.  It went very well, and it was great to see the process up close and personal via Zoom.  Remember that you can go to our website and see the presentation again.  I plan on doing just that and cleaning up all my garden gear and checking to see what I need to replace.

We presented an application to approve Clare’s Fare as a new Community Service Committee.  This new garden is modeled on the successful Eden Garden.  More chances for you to join others in providing food to the food banks. This motion was passed by 98% of the over 60 people in attendance.

A special thanks to Lori Martin who stepped in for me and represented the club at the streaming of the Make a Difference day.  If you are looking for a way to support our community, check out http://www.mad4p.org to learn about more opportunities.  The site will be live until September 2021.

 I spoke today to the supervisor at the Tahoe National Forest and he advises that they are once more accepting Penny Pines sponsorships.  He is also working on mapping the plaques currently in place so that if you happen to be in the area, they can direct you to the location where your plaque is located.  Please let me know if you have ordered a plantation and have not received the certificate.

California State Garden Club, Pacific Region Garden Club, and National Garden Club have many programs and opportunities for club members to show off their talents.  Currently the National Garden Club has sponsored a Poster contest for 1st thru 5th grade children to show their skills in preparing a poster about Woodsy the Owl, a friend of Smokey.  We have three entries being mailed this week.  I will print off a certificate for each of these entries and perhaps they may get something from National.  There is also a coloring contest being sponsored by the Pacific Region with a postmark deadline of January 31, 2021.  This is for garden club members only and the coloring page is like the many coloring books for adults.  So, if you and yours are getting bored with Stay in Place rules, be sure to check out all three web sites to see what is currently being offered.  Many of them even have prizes that will buy you a few new plants for your gardens.

Questions?? Email Jeri Stark, President. See the LAVGC Yearbook for Jeri's additional contact information.

Take care and stay safe,

Jeri Stark, President 2020/2021

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Misc. Items of Interest

...Club activities, past and current, are described in the LAVGC 35th Anniversary slide show. New members might be interested in looking at the slide show to learn more about the club's activities. The slide show is available on the LAVGC website (lavgc.org) in the Members only section.

...if you missed one of the talks at our regular meeting, members can see the video of the talk on the club website Members Only section "LAVGC Speakers: past and future" link. Most of our recent club meeting talks are on view there. Select videos are also available to the public. See the "LAVGC Speakers: past and future" link on the Home page. Thanks to Gramham Stott, Beth Clark for recording, Nile Runge for uploading and Len Smith for posting to the our web site.

...Member Alert: if you have changes to your contact information, please email Molly Fisher. See the LAVGC Yearbook for Molly's additional contact information.

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February Follies.................in the garden

...the big thing now is weeds, weeds, weeds, and getting them while they are young and not gone to seed.  Of course some plants are weeds to one gardener and just a fun pop-up plant to another.  I don’t mind valerian or forget-me-nots and let them grow wherever they want.  But it also doesn’t hurt me to yank them out if they are in the way of something I really want.  All plants use water and nutrients so it is a good idea not to leave extra plants of whatever sort around finicky plants or big eaters. Put down mulch/compost to prevent more weeds.   Hopefully we’ll be getting gentle rains to wash the compost into the soil.

......the really tender plants like hibiscus, lantana, artemisia, and geraniums you should probably wait another month to prune back. Or at least wait until late in this month. (Our last frost date is supposed to be March 15 but Mother Nature doesn’t always read that memo.) But most other perennials and shrubs can be pruned now.  The key to remember about pruning shrubs or perennials is Prune after bloom. If you shape up those lilacs or azaleas now, you are just cutting off the buds for their bloom this spring. So wait until they have shown their colorful glory. Then go at them to remove dead branches, open up the center of the plant, and shape it to please you.  I find spiraeas love to be cut way, way back and can be sheared back all year to encourage another round of bloom.  Plants that are quite inexpensive to buy, like verbena, can be sheared way back but if frost or something gets them, just yank them out and buy a new one.  Think of the benefit to the compost pile of the plants you take out.

.....my abutilon sort of blooms all year but if you are trying to keep it to a shape or against a wall, now is a good time to cut it all back – blooming branches or not.

....toward mid-month is the time to get at your fuchsias.  They bloom on new wood so you want to cut them way, way back and then pinch, pinch, pinch as the leaf couplets come out so you get lots of branches and new wood for them to bloom on.  Another plant that is this way is the callicarpa (American beauty berry). The one at the Sensory garden still has all its glorious hot pink berries on. But when they fall off we’ll cut that sucker back to almost a stub. I have a honeysuckle that seems to bloom more if I cut it way back too.

....this is a good time to look at any Japanese maples - when they are defoliated – and look  for any dead twigs and stems, a natural process for them, and just snap them off.  No need even for clippers.

...and don’t forget the daylilies – they seem to just love being completely whacked back to about 4-6 inches from the ground.  Then you get all new foliage to set off the blooms.  Same thing for catmint, liriope, and Santa Barbara daisies (another plant that is a weed to some but I love the little daisy flowers).

....if you have a plant that is just too tall and big for where it is, you can try to reduce it but view that as a multi-year project.   You should cut no more than one-third back on a shrub or tree at any one time.  Do some this year and then another third next year.

...if you seem to be pruning and pruning back certain plants to keep them in their place, maybe it is time to admit that it is the wrong plant in the wrong place and either remove it or find a more appropriate place in your garden.

...you can cut off old hellebore stems now and leave the new growth in the middle and you’ll have fresh new plants when the flowers come out.soon!

...we seem to be having a dry spell so be sure emerging bulbs are kept with some moisture on them.  Watch out as you are working in beds that you aren’t crunching the tips of bulbs coming out.  They really don’t like that and you can snap off potential buds and there goes the flowers for this year.  If you have planted wildflower or poppy seeds they might need a little shower too.  If rains come and the ground stays a bit moist you don’t need to worry about them.

...and this is the time to divide perennials that have expanded out of their spot. 

this is a great time to put an all-purpose fertilizer around plants just after you prune or divide them.  Homemade compost is best but store-bought natural fertilizers that are going to feed the soil are also appreciated.  The key word here is ‘feeding the soil’ as opposed to items that feed the plant.  Plants cannot take up food if the soil balance is off so keep feeding the soil to help them thrive.  Chemical fertilizers will give a quick burst to the plant but it is sort of like fast food.  You need to feed the soil so it can give the plant what it needs and keep feeding it year round.

...the basic thing to remember after rainy weather is not to step in garden beds – you squish all the oxygen out of the soil. Use boards or stepping stones to get to the back of the beds. 

...Finish pruning roses (and ‘finger prune’ those that you already did – rub off new shoots going in the wrong direction). It’s really a pain but get off all the old leaves so that when the plant pushes out new growth all the foliage is lush and new.

...toward the end of the month give everything a good compost boost so they are ready for the spring growth spurt.  Everyone has a ‘favorite’ kind of fertilizer but the bottom line is that they mostly contain similar ingredients and, according to our speakers, the more organic the better.  You are feeding the soil so that whatever is planted there and can take up the nutrients and help the plant thrive.

...when the soil is just moist and pliable (let’s hope it gets that way from Mother Nature) it is a good time to move any plants that seem to be in the wrong place.  They’ll most likely just sit there in their new spots and get acclimated until the soil starts to warm up. 

...many camellias will be blooming this month.  Be sure to pick up blossoms that fall to the ground to prevent blossom rot getting into your soil.  You can start to prune when they are in bloom and take the blooming branches into the house for more enjoyment.  And “Prune after Bloom” to shape them up and get out any dead branches or twigs and perhaps keep it to the size you want.

if you’re not leaving the seed heads on decorative grasses for the birds, this is a good time to cut them quite low so you have a fresh plant after their spring growth.

Over fertilized plants may be beautiful but are otherwise useless, like people whose energies are devoted so completely to their appearance that there is no other development. - William Longgood

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