- Author: Betty Victor
It's holiday time and the Master Gardeners have been hard at work preparing for our annual wreath workshop. December 3 is the day that the Buck Mansion Carriage House in Vacaville will be all a buzz with the people making their own holiday wreath.
Prior to the actual day, a lot of work goes into preparing for this workshop by the Master Gardeners. In late October and early November a message was sent to all the Master Gardeners, telling them when it’s time to prune any plants in their yards to remember the wreath workshop and to collect any that can be dried to use to decorate the wreaths. Twice in November, some Master Gardeners met and spray painted almost every color on some of the plants that had been collected and dried. Some of the hydrangeas that looked good were left in their natural state. Other hydrangeas, agapanthus, lavender, agastache, lions tail, sedum, and so much more were sprayed for the participants to add to their wreaths. There will bows of different colors that can also be added.
Late November it was time to cut the greens. We met at a local spot and with permission from the owner we filled a truck and trailer with redwood boughs, we were very careful and only took what was needed and did the look of the spot. We did such a good job; you could not tell we had been there. This trailer of redwood was then taken to a spot in Vacaville, to be soaked overnight and cut the next day to be cut into manageable pieces for the wreath makers to use. After being cut the pieces were boxed in banana size boxes along with other green that had been gathered and transported to the Buck Mansion.
So December 3rd we were ready for a fun start to the holidays, wreath making with all the bows and decorations you might want. Oh and of course food as well.
Last night I was complaining to the husband about how cold it was in the house. I cranked up the heater, but it just didn't seem to do the trick. I hauled out a down blanket and put it on the bed. It didn't dawn on me until I opened the garage door this morning that Jack Frost had visited Dixon. The evidence was on all the roofs in my court-a light dusting of frost. I know this was a pretty isolated event, as I had queried a few Master Gardener friends from Fairfield. They said they didn't have any frost this morning.
Just a note to all you blog readers, protect your valuable plants or get them indoors. Watching the weather on the evening news might help. I would hate to see you lose that favorite plant due to a sneaky frost.
- Author: Betsy Lunde
As a lot of my fellow Master Gardeners know, I work for the California Department of Parks and Recreation in Benicia. One of my parks is the Fischer-Hanlon House which is attached to the Benicia Historic Capitol Park. This House has an approximate 1/2 acre garden and contains many old and unusual plants. Some were planted by the Fischer family who lived in the house starting in 1856, others by their descendents. When State Parks was given the house by the surviving members of the Hanlon family (the grand-daughters of Mr. Fischer), the state workers removed over five 1-ton truck loads of plant material (mostly living) in order to clear the garden for public viewing. In doing so, the garden lost its over-grown Victorian look and acquired a somewhat "modern" interpretation of a Victorian garden. Some of the plants and trees have survived to this day and provide gardeners, such as myself, with additional problems relating to their ages.
The first plant is the Wisteria floribunda or Chinese Wisteria. This plant
originally had a span of 20 feet on a wooden pergola which has since buckled under the weight of this huge vine. With a trunk circumfrence of over 4 feet, it stretched an additional 10 feet to strangle a petite double-flowered salmon flowering Nerium oleander as well as shooting out another 15 feet into a Schinus molle (pepperwood tree) and up 40 feet to then comeback down again to hold the tree tight, rather like ribbons wound around a maypole. Currently, with the death of the pepperwood and its needed trimming, this wisteria holds tight to the re-enforced pergola, threatening to bring the old wooden structure down to the ground.
The problem with the wisteria: how to continue restraining this massive vine to
the crumbling scaffolding while figuring out how to raise it and slip another, strudier structure under the vine and then allow it to rehang itself again has been a prickly one. This is a problem five years in the works as NO one wants to identify the person who killed the 150 plus year old vine.
A second problem of the garden is how to keep a Ficus (fig tree) from completely
collapsing to the ground. This fig, dating back at least 60 years is actually the remaining branch of the original fig. Over the years, it has taking the guise of a hortizontal tree -- propped up by 4X4s in numerous places and continuing to have up to 2 crops of delicious figs per year! A little odd this year, but due to the weather it gave 3 successive crops of figs which are continuing to ripen. Needless to say, this tree is a popular stop on the garden tour! The daughter trees that have been developing over the last 3 years have come into their own in terms of providing figs for visitors and will continue the legancy of the Fisher House figs.
Another situation for garden are the huge oleanders (Nerium oleander) which have grown up to over 14 feet. Those would include a pink single-flowering which when in bloom smells like talcum powder which last year split in half (the falling half hit the house and merely slid down the side, gently brushing 1st and 2nd story windows) and deep pinks and whites along the fence -- overgrown, but contributing greatly to the colors and textures of the garden.
Roses abound in the garden, but none such as Rosa 'Belle Portugaise' (Belle of
Portugal). This gorgous rose has elegant, pointed buds which open wide and hang down in a combo of light salmon, pink, a peachy and creamy color. Our bush is over fifty-plus years old with a coating of rather shaggy bark on the older stem parts. This rose hadn't put out a new lateral shoot in 15 years, but tried twice this past year. Unfortunately for the bush, visitors have broken off both. I'm hoping that it will try again. Since it grows on a thin arbor attached to the house, the poor thing sometimes is pruned off the roof and other times pruned off the arbor. It really has no idea of which direction to grow!
Other plants include Opuntia cacti-- huge 14 foot specimens which bloom in
bright yellows during the late summer and early fall; the Arbutus unedo (Strawberry tree) which was touted during the '60s as the perfect parking strip tree. Too bad, the "touters" didn't see this specimen at 5 feet around and 20 feet tall with its dropping fruits which splatter upon falling and creating slippery, slimy spots on brick pathways.
Unfortunately, I have little hope for the continuation of this historic garden.
As most folks are aware, the State plans to close this park OR have a
nonprofit run it. Looking around at the various old plants (and some of the
newer replacements as well), the trained eye can see the misshaping of the
specimens by "gardeners" who have not studied the various plants' growths before
clipping, heading or even topping these plants. I hope that in the future, people will volunteer or be hired who understand plant growth and behavior after I leave. Could one of those people be YOU?
To volunteer at this historic site, please call 707-648-1911 and ask for Sandy
I just wanted to report to you about our Public Plant Exchange we had this past weekend. It was widely publicized, but if you missed attending, here is what you missed.
We have been doing the Public Plant Exchange for a few years now. At first, we just exchanged plants internally amongst the Master Gardeners (MGs). It became so popular with them, they wanted to share with the public.
The MGs love to propagate plants at home. Many are experts at growing plants and love to share. So, they bring in to the exchange any plant, seed, cutting or bulb (including rhizomes, tubers and the like). Knowing there are home gardeners out there who also like to do home propagation, we invite them to share their wares with the MGs. We bring everyone together on one date to share their knowledge and exchange plants. It is a free event we hold in the fall and sometimes the spring.
At our event we also have other items related to home gardening. The MGs bring in their books, gardening tools, pots, and magazines. This year we had a huge assortment!
We hope to plan another plant exchange for the spring, but if you're interested in attending one before then, I know of one happening in Oakland called the Lakeshore Avenue Free Neighborhood Plant Exchange. Here is the information: Saturday, October 15, 2011. 3811 Lakeshor Avenue (easy parking). From 12:00 noon until 4 p.m. For more information visit this site www.plantexchange.wordpress.com.
Thank you for joining the Master Gardeners (MGs) as they share with you their knowledge and experiences of gardening in Solano County.
If you aren’t familiar with our program, let me fill you in. The MGs are residents of Solano County. They are a diverse group of people who have been trained in horticulture for the purpose of volunteering their time to share that knowledge with you, the home gardener.
Each weekday, this blog will cover a new topic, something of interest to the writer or an interesting tidbit he or she has discovered in his or her home gardens or in other parts of our county.
We are excited about sharing this blog with you and hope you enjoy reading about everything Under the Solano Sun.