Special Interests

The Livermore Amador Valley Garden Club has a variety of special interest groups.


Garden Tours

March, 2022 Garden Tours are back!

We will have tours occasionally, meeting at a general meeting point and carpooling to our destination. Tours will be to public and private gardens, along with visits to unique nurseries. Also, our members open their gardens once or twice a year.

In addition to the scheduled tours, members are encouraged to share their garden successes on an impromptu basis. Notification can be through email, announcements at meetings or through the Newsletter.

If you'd like to share your preferences or want more information about Day and Overnight tours, please email Valerie Morrow. See the LAVGC Yearbook for additional contact information.

April 6, 2022 Daytime Tour - Poot's Cactus Nursery, Ripon, Ca

On April 6, 2022 a small group of garden club members visited Poot's Cactus Nursery in Ripon This is a family founded, owned and operated nursery in Ripon. Roelyn Poot gave us some historical perspective on starting the nursery about 35 years ago and how it has grown over time. Bill Poot, a world class cacti and succulent collector, walked us though some of his private collection and a growing greenhouse. Many of us purchased cacti and succulents to bring home. It was a beautiful day!

Bill Poot showed us some of his private collection and growing space in a greenhouse.

Bill Poot showed us some of his private collection and growing space in a greenhouse.

Some of the cacti in a greenhouse at Poot's Cactus Nursery.

Some of the cacti in a greenhouse at Poot's Cactus Nursery.

Gayle Pawloski, Dana Boyd, Roelyn and Bill Poot, Liz Johannsen, Lois Barber, Betty Nostrand at Poot's Cactus Nursery.

Gayle Pawloski, Dana Boyd, Roelyn and Bill Poot, Liz Johannsen, Lois Barber, Betty Nostrand at Poot's Cactus Nursery.

A beautiful blooming cactus!

A beautiful blooming cactus!

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March 23, 2022 Daytime Tour - Mt Diablo hike

Naturalist Michael Marchiano has generously offered to lead a group of 15 vaccinated Club members on a Mt. Diablo hike, on Wednesday March 23, 2022. The hike will be approximately 2 hours and 2-3 miles in distance. We will meet in the Raley's parking lot 5420 Sunol Blvd. Pls. at 8:45 am and carpool up to Mt. Diablo.

Please bring a bagged lunch and water. Please bring a $5 donation for Mt. Diablo State Park as well as a contribution for parking and gas. We will have lunch after the walk and then visit Sloat Garden Center in San Ramon.

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Mar 10, 2020 Pie Ranch, Pescadero

Our walking tour will give us an introduction to a working farm, which operates from seed to table and highlights food education, farmer training, and regional partnerships Bring your lunch to eat at the farm. The cost is $20, which includes $15 for admission and $5 for gas. We hope to be back around 3:30PM, traffic permitting.

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Feb 18, 2020 Granada Native Garden and Pacific Coast Seed, Livermore

Our first stop was the Granada Native Garden. A Demonstration Garden for California Native Plants in Livermore. We'll spend about 1 hour walking through the garden with a docent to learn about the grassroots efforts that formed the garden and how it has evolved over 15 years. We can see the California natives growing there, some of which will be in bloom. Meet in the parking lot at the Posada Restaurant (988 Murrieta Blvd) at 9:45. We'll walk across the street to see the garden.

Our second stop was the Subway sandwich shop in the Nob Hill shopping center (969 E Stanley Blvd) at 11:30 for lunch.

Our final stop was Pacific Coast Seed. PCSeed started in Livermore in 1985 and moved to Tracy in 2018. PCSeed donates poppy seed that our club gives to 2nd graders during our Arbor Day presentations. We'll leave the parking lot near Subway at 12:30 to carpool to the warehouse to learn the history of the company, how seed is farmed, collected and prepared for large-scale sales. We should be able to watch a demonstration of mixing and bagging seed. There are no growing grounds at this location and no retail sales. We should be back at Subway in Livermore around 3:00.

This is a fairly local tour (no commute traffic) that will proceed even if the weather is bad (well, unless it is pouring rain).

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Jan 15, 2020, Ruth Bancroft Garden and Gardens at Heather Farms Tour, Walnut Creek

The Ruth Bancroft Garden and Nursery and the Gardens at Heather Farm are the next stops for the Garden Club Tour Group. Please join us Wednesday January 15th for a trip to Walnut Creek to check out these gardens. We will have a docent for the Ruth Bancroft Tour and guide ourselves at Heather Farm.

Click The Ruth Bancroft Garden and Heather Farms Gardens Trip Report to see photos and a report of our trip.

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Dec 18, 2019 Holiday Garden Tour and Lunch, San Francisco.

Join us December 18th for a stroll through the Salesforce Transit Center Garden. Specialty Gardens with fifty species of trees and over two hundred understory plants in this roof top garden treat.

We will meet at 9 am at the front of the Pleasanton BART Station and travel to the Embarcadero Station and walk to the center. Then we will hop back on BART to the Powell Station to enjoy Union Square Holiday Decorations and Lunch. The cost will be the Bart Fare and lunch.

More info at Saleforce Park Garden Guide.

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Nov 2, 2019, The Splendor of Mums by Bay Area Chrysanthemum Society

See a large display of beautiful & unique chrysanthemum blooms and floral arrangements of chrysanthemums. See the Mum Show Event.

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Nov 2, 2019, Floral Festival Exhibition by Furyu - "Floral Designs from a Hardware Store"

See creative floral designs and presentations. LAVGC member Lynn McFarland will be presenting "Floral Designs from a Hardware Store". See the Festival flyer

Carpool from JC Penny Home Store Parking Lot, 1500 Stoneridge Mall Rd, Pleasanton leaving at 10:30 AM. Lori Martin has offered to drive her van. Suggestion: $5 donation to driver for transportation.

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May 4, 2019, 2019 Garden Share (formerly known as Members Garden Tour)

Come out and see several local gardens that are being 'shared' by some members and their neighbors. Then join us for a social time at the last public garden, the Dublin Heritage garden. You are welcome to bring family and friends. The event will go on rain or shine.

The following members and friends will share their gardens. Dolores Bengtson, Mark & Erica Dedon, Barbara & Graham Stott, 3 neighbors of the Stott's and Jim & Sue Farr's portion of Kolb House Garden which is in Dublin Heritage Park. See the LAVGC Member's Only section 2019 Garden Share for garden descriptions and locations.

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Mar 23, 2019, Day Tour - San Francisco Water Department Sunol Water Temple's new Native Plant Nursery

We will car pool to Sunol. The nursery is located inside of the Sunol Water Temple's locked gates so you will not be able to go independently. Our tour starts at 10 a.m. and will last for 1 to two hours. Bree Candilora, nursery manager, and Pat Jones, land manager or ranger, will be our hosts. The nursery is charged with starting native plants from stock in the area, raising them disease free and healthy, to be used to replant in disturbed areas. The nursery is located behind the site of a future environmental education center. After the tour, for those who wish, lunch at Mt. Mikes Pizza at the Raley Shopping Center.

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Jan 17, 2019, Day Tour - Pollinator Gardens at Lake Merritt

Tora Rocha, our November meeting speaker, will lead us on a tour of the Pollinator Gardens at Lake Merritt. We hope this time we won't have any smoke and it will be a sunny day so the pollinators are out and about. Let's see what is attracting them in January.

The Pollinator Gardens at Lake Merritt have 12 special gardens on 7 acres. The pollinator garden is maintained by the volunteer Pollinator Posse and we can see what plants they have chosen and how they prepared them for the winter and what will bloom and attract pollinators during the coming months.

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Oct 23, 2018, Day Tour - Calif. Historical Nursery and Shinn Park

We will visit the California Nursery Historical Park and Shinn Historical Park and Arboretum in Niles/Fremont. The California Nursery Historical Park is a 21 acre remnant of the large California Nursery Company, which was established as an experimental station in Niles in 1865. It specialized in ornamentals, fruit and palms trees. It supplied trees to the 1894 International Exhibition in Golden Gate Park, the 1915 Pan Pacific International Exhibition in the SF, and the 1939-40 Exposition at Treasure Island. We will also see the 1842 Vallejo Adobe, located within the park. The nearby and smaller Shinn Park includes a Victorian house dating from 1876 (we won't be able to get into the house) surrounded by large trees and gardens. Here we plan to focus on the George Kato Memorial Garden, a small Japanese garden surrounded by a protective flying dragon citrus hedge. Between visiting the two parks we will eat lunch in Niles.

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May 3, 2018, Day Tour - Iris Garden, Peony Garden and Plant and Pottery Outlet

The Chateau CharMarron Peony garden, 35335 Sierra Road, San Jose, CA 95132.

Chateau CharMarron Peony garden is located in San Jose, high above Milpitas overlooking the Calaveras Reservoir. They have more than 240 peony varieties under cultivation. The bloom season begins in late March with tree peonies and continues from mid-April through early June with herbaceous peonies. While enjoying the gardens, sample the wonderful Tuscan olive oils.

Nola's Iris Garden, 4195 Sierra Road San Jose, CA 9513.

Nola's Iris Garden has over 2100 varieties of Bearded Iris. Choices include Tall Bearded, Border Bearded, Intermediate Bearded, Dwarf Bearded and some of the best Reblooming Iris in the world. Nola's has picnic tables scattered around the Garden/Ranch or enjoy their new large deck overlooking the garden. Coffee and Tea are provided and sodas are available for purchase. Dogs are welcome on leashes.

The Plant and Pottery Outlet, 6467 Mission Rd, Sunol, CA 94586.

The Plant and Pottery Outlet is a clearance center for Tropical plants, Designer pottery, and Fountains and Statuaries. Choose from pottery and a large variety of indoor/ outdoor tropical plants at discount prices. They also carry organic soil and amendments. Pottery sizes vary from 4in to 40in in Height and Diameter. In addition, they sell chipped and damaged pots and plants at a huge discount!

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April 22, 2018 Members' Garden Tour from 1:00-4:00

April 23, 2018 Members' Garden Tour following 4MLB lunch

The 2018 Member Garden Tour of 5 Livermore gardens was a great success. At least 40 members viewed the gardens on Sunday and 16 of the 4th Monday Lunch Bunch gardeners viewed the gardens on Monday. Garden hosts answered questions and walked through their gardens with our members. Erika Dedon gave a short history of the long, long process to prepare hard packed clay soil for the beautiful drought tolerant plants at Master Gardener's demonstration garden at the Martinelli Event Center. Dana Boyd talked enthusiastically about how our members maintain the Hansen Rose Garden and let everyone know that the employees who work nearby enjoy it on their breaks.

Pictures from 2018 Member Garden Tour

Hover your mouse pointer over a picture to see the title.

Fringe Tree at Martinelli Event Center Irene Heidelberg's Garden Mary Davis' Garden
Members at Hansen Rose Garden Elizabeth Judge's Garden=
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April 3-4, 2018 Santa Rosa Tour - Optional 1 or 2 Day Field Trip

Day 1, Stop 1: Luther Burbank Gardens

With more than an acre of gardens including many of Luther Burbank's horticultural contributions. We will arrive approximately 10:30 AM for a tour at 11 AM. Cost $10 per person. Bring your own lunch and we will picnic in the Gardens if the weather permits.

Day 1, Stop 2: Emerisa Gardens and Nursery

Specializing in four-inch plants emphasizing hardy and unusual perennials, herbs, certified organic vegetables, ornamental grasses and succulents.

Day 1, Stop 3: Momiji Nursery

Family owned since 1979 specializing in Japanese Maples with more than 250 cultivars.

Day 1, Stop 4: West County Oasis Bamboo Garden Nursery

with more than 250 kinds of Bamboo.

Day Trippers head back to Pleasanton at this point. Those staying over for Day 2 will head to the La Rose Hotel, one of the Wine Country's most historic properties, it has anchored Santa Rosa's Railroad Square since 1907. Hotel La Rose is within an easy stroll of antique and specialty shops, numerous restaurants and wine tasting rooms.

Day 2. Stop 1: Quarryhill Botanical Gardens

A 25-acre botanical garden of mature, flowering plants from Asia including Magnolias, dogwoods, maples, birches, roses, lilies, rhododendrons. $12 Adults $10 Seniors (65+) There is an app on the website, Quarryhill Botanical Garden (Visit menu pulldown, Self-Guided Tour App) available to download for 99 cents for a self-guided tour. If there is enough interest we can book a tour with a docent with ten or more for $17 each which includes admission.

Day 2. Stop 2: Sunset Test Gardens and Cornerstone Market

The Sunset Test Gardens span a quarter acre, where they grow an interesting variety of plants and trees while experimenting with design techniques to keep our visitors fed with fresh ideas. The Sunset Test Gardens are separate from the Cornerstone Gardens, although they are located next to one another. Admission to both the Sunset and Cornerstone Gardens is complimentary and all gardens are open to the public. Food is available at the facility. From here we will head home at approximately 2 PM after a great visit!

Detailed travel and cost information will be available at the March meeting or contact Valerie Morrow. See the LAVGC Yearbook for Valerie's contact information. Total cost $22 for 2 Days plus hotel, transportation and meals. Please sign up at the March meeting but no later than March 29th and let Valerie know if you are driving and can take another member. Every participant must be a LAVGC member.

January 25, 2017 - Ouroboros Aquaponics Farms Day Tour

On a beautifully sunny Wednesday 13 garden club members carpooled to Ouroboros Aquaponics Farms in Half Moon Bay to learn about aquaponics - the blending of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing in water). This method of farming allows 10 times denser planting, 50% faster growing rates and uses only 5% of the water typically used for soil farming. The farm specializes in raising greens and herbs for local and restaurant use, and hopes to expand to also supplying fish in the near future. The tour was highly educational! See the photos to get a sense of their operations.

We also had time to visit Highway 92 Succulents, Yerba Buena Nursery - California Native Plants and Ferns, and Worlds Rare and Carnivorous Plants. We capped off the day by eating lunch at Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. at the coast. We had a great time!

See the pictures at Ouroboros Aquaponics Farms Day Tour.

February 14, 2017 - SF Botanical Garden Magnolias Day Tour

Join us for a docent led tour of the SF Botanical Garden while the Magnolia Trees are in full bloom. This garden is home to the most significant magnolia collection for conservation purposes outside China, with 51 species and 35 cultivars.

We will leave at 8:30 so we have time to get to SF, park and be there in time for our 11:00 tour. The tour is 90 minutes, and we are aiming for two docents, one for more able bodied, and one for less abled bodies. After the tour, we can eat our lunch and wander thru the gardens on our own and be back by 4:00. Bring a lunch, water, $8 for the tour, and $5 for your carpool driver. For more info about the garden, please go to . SFBG Magnificent Magnolias.

March 21, 2017 - Filoli Day Tour

We have several options for non-members of Filoli: Regular admission at 20.00 per person, Seniors at 17.00. If we have 15 paid admissions it is 15.00 per person. This is for a self-guided tour. If we want a guided tour it is $5 more per person, member or not. The tulips should be in bloom and possibly the wisteria and yellow banksia rose. The Filoli gardens and house are always a magnificent sight in the spring.

Signup at the meeting or contact Tia Kay. See the LAVGC Yearbook for Tia's contact information.

May 21, 2017 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Members' Garden Tour, Gathering and Good Eats

Five great Pleasanton gardens will be on this year's Members' Garden Tour. All LAVGC Members and their guests are invited to attend. After visiting the first 4 gardens, please plan to end your tour with the Tallon Garden at about 3:30 as Garden-inspired Good Eats will be served. Use this chance to socialize, to get to know other members, and enjoy great food along with seeing the Tallon garden.

May 22, 2017 11:30 am - Members' Garden Tour, Gathering and Good Eats

All LAVGC Members and their guests are invited to attend. These five gardens will be part of the 4th Monday Lunch Bunch (4MLB) agenda. On this day, the tour will start at the Tallon Garden at 11:30. A lunch of Garden-inspired Good Eats will be served and after lunch, at approximately 12:30 we will go together as a group to each of the other 4 gardens. Carpool if you can.

May 23-25, 2017 - Hearst Castle and Santa Barbara Overnight Tour

By now members who are interested in going should have confirmed their participation and sent a down payment for the Santa Barbara area gardens trip. If not, please do so now. Participants will need to make hotel reservations in March. Communications and updates are sent to members on our email group.

Join us on a 3 day, 2 night tour (May 23-25, 2017) to the Santa Barbara area. Tuesday morning we will carpool to Hearst Castle for tours and then spend the night in Cambria. A number of tours are planned for Wednesday - Lotusland, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens, and the Mission Rose Garden. After spending that night in Santa Barbara, Thursday morning we will tour San Marcos Growers before heading home. You must be a garden club member to attend.

Jun 19, 2017 - Amazing Spring Day Garden and Lavender Day Tour.

A reminder for those that signed up for the Sonoma garden tour. We will be meeting at the JC Penney's Home Store parking lot at 8:15 AM and leaving promptly at 8:30. Please bring a sack lunch to enjoy under the oaks at Matanza Creek Winery. There are 28 of us signed up and we need more drivers. If you are able to drive please contact Sharon Howard.

Join us for our day tour in June to Sebastopol, Bennett Valley and Petaluma. We will be visiting Mary and Lew Reid's Private Garden in Sebastopol first. This garden was visited by many of our members as part of the Pacific Horticulture tour and was rated as the number 1 garden to see.

Next we will be visiting the lavender garden at Matanza Creek Winery. This is an award winning garden designed by Gary Ratway and is a beautiful mix of lavender, grasses and native plants. A must see! Lavender will be on sale as well as wine tastings if desired.

We will be visiting Cottage Garden Nursery and possibly Emerisa Nursery if time allows on the way home for a delightful shopping experience.

Sep 26, 2017 - Sunol & Castlewood Day Tour

We will visit a couple farms at SAGE in Sunol, Jim O'Laughlin's, Lisa Arnold Nursery, and finish the day with a beautiful private garden in Castlewood. Bring a sack lunch and we will eat under the walnut tree at Jim's. Meet at the Raley's parking lot on Sunol Blvd in Pleasanton at 10:00 AM. Please sign up at the meeting or RSVP to Karen Abbruscato.

Nov 29, 2017 Modesto Gardens and Poinsettia Nursery Day Tour

On November 29, 19 LAVGC members made several stops in the Modesto area. Our first stop was the Modesto Garden Club clubhouse, where we were warmly welcomed by Dan and Gerry Yockey, several "planters and groomers" that maintain the demonstration gardens at the clubhouse, and a photographer from their multimedia team. The Modesto Garden Club is the largest garden club in California, with over 500 members! We toured the many demostration gardens, and then watched a video that describes club history and activities while we enjoyed cookies and coffee. Our second stop was the Yockey's house, fantastically decorated for Christmas. It is one of several houses lavishly decorated for the club's Holiday Home Tour. We then stretched our legs on a short walk through the Julio and Aileen Gallo Rose Garden and the McHenry Mansion gardens. After lunch at the Churchkey restaurant, we traveled to the Duarte Nursery in Hughson, where we were amazed with the numbers and varieties of poinsettias! The Duarte Nursery grows over 65,000 poinsettias, with over 30 varieties and colors, in state-of-the-art greenhouses.

See the pictures at Modesto Gardens and Poinsettia Nursery Day Tour.

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