- Author: Karen Metz
Some things I expected on our recent trip to Scotland in early October. I knew that the thistle was the national flower. I had heard about the rowan tree from my mother in law. It was nice to see it in person and find it with a full flush of red berries. Since we were going in October I wasn't quite sure what else to expect.
The first thing I noticed was begonias of all colors in municipal and business plantings. They tended to be planted in large masses as well as hanging planters. The next observations were made on a hike through the Pass of Killiecrankie which links the highlands and the lowlands of Scotland. This wooded area was bursting with fungi and mushrooms. I even found the mushroom from all the fairy tales the one with the white stem and red cap with white polka-dots. I was also impressed with the amount of ruby red rose hips from wild Rosa canina that we saw here and throughout Scotland. I could only imagine how beautiful these must be in flower in the springtime.
We visited Dunrobin Castle which has some beautiful gardens supposedly inspired by Versailles. I was shocked to find Gunnera mannicata, Giant Rhubarb flourishing there. I generally think of these in South America or trendy garden show displays not Scottish gardens. Later I was astounded to see a six foot tall Viking topiary made of succulents on the greens of a town named Largs. Largs was the site of a famous Viking-Scottish battle. The grounds also had a flat" picture" of a Viking battleship, also done in succulents.
I think that is one of the things I like best about traveling, the surprises you encounter that go against your expectations. They shake you up a bit and make you look at everything with fresher eyes. And if you are lucky, that feeling can continue on when you get home.
- Author: Betty Victor
October 12, 2013 is the date; 9AM to noon is the time for the U.C. Master Gardeners annual plant exchange.
If you have not experienced the fun of this free event, this is what you can expect to find. A variety of plants some the Master Gardeners have propagated, some they and others have brought to exchange for something new they may want to add to their gardens. You will also find books on gardening, magazines, pots maybe some garden tools or garden art.
This is a free event; you do not even need to bring anything to exchange to attend. If you have excess flower or vegetable seeds, plants you no longer want, bring them to the exchange. If you are bringing plants or seeds, please label to identify them as it is very helpful for all that attend. Please no plant in pots over 5 gallons.
For the first 80 participants, there will be available a take home set of pest note cards that help identify pest and how to safely deal with them. Also there is a vegetable planting guide that shows the months that you should plant the vegetables you like, it also show the approximate harvest time.
This year you will have the opportunity to listen to mini talks.
Here is the schedule for these talks.
9:30 Succulents (and their propagation)
10:15 Plant propagation (stem cuttings)
11:00 Fall gift ideas (planting a pumpkin container)
11:30 How to become a Master Gardener
Stay for as many talks as you would like. Between 9:30 and 11:30 there will be fun activities for kids as well.
The address for the plant exchange is: 501 Texas St. Fairfield, kitty-corner from Armijo High School, the school is located at the corner of Texas and Washington Street.
The parking in front of the office is very limited; there is additional parking across the street. You can access it by Empire Street.
Remember the date Oct 12, 2013 time 9AM to noon for this fun free event. This is a chance to add some new plants to your garden.
- Author: Susan Croissant
In August we visited Greater Vallejo Recreation District's (GVRD) Children's Wonderland for their Annual Summer Concert Series: Art & Concerts in the Park June - Sept (one each month). Raymond Victor was a guest artist (he plays around Vallejo in many a charitable event). We were amazed at how few people attended to hear some FREE blues on a beautiful day in a lovely park. Usually there's a $2 entry fee per person. Not everyone can or wants to pay for that privilege, but the grounds are very pleasant. http://www.gvrd.org
Just outside the park entrance, the front of the Vallejo Parent Nursery School building has a Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) and Lily-of-the-Nile (Agapanthus orientalis). A small playground with slides and swings is surrounded by a fence covered in Morning Glory (Ipomoea tricolor 'Heavenly Blue').
Enter the park through a castle guarded by crocodiles, with stained glass windows (Jack & the Beanstalk, Alice, Pinocchio, dinosaur) and with small dragon heads on the backside. Several playground areas, with many slides: giant teapot house/slide with teacup chairs, sandlot with in-ground dinosaur and stone picnic table/benches, train with station house and hotel, swings (for varied ages), Vallejo fire truck, and a large playground with slides and stationary, bouncing rides. Picnic areas: tipi/teepee open area, Humpty Dumpty open area, large pergola, covered band shell, Alice in Wonderland gazebo (with painted murals inside & out with quotes from Maurice Sendak and other children's books). A giant, working chessboard where you move the pieces as you walk the board. The bathroom has giant King and Queen playing cards at the entrance to identify gender.
Many, many trees (both young and old) provide pleasant surroundings and shaded areas. Tulip, Yucca, Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis), Fir (Abies spp.), Cedar (Cedrus spp.), young Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), young Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia spp.) , and many large and impressive specimens that I could not identify. The main ground cover is Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) with Clover (Trifolium repens) mixed in. Bermuda is strong and sturdy for foot traffic and activities. Wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca) appear on various ground areas. A brick flower bed filled with aster (Aster amellus cordifolius) . Red Geranium in various spaces. A somewhat narrow, long strip where water could flow, surrounded by various grasses, Mexican sage (Salvia mexicana), flax (Phormium), Lily-of-the-Nile 'Blue Yonder.' Similar plants are gathered against the fence. Small shrubs appear in various spots throughout the park. Near the train station English ivy (Hedera helix) covers the wall, with several Yucca trees on the outside of the fence setting a nice background to the ivy.
- Author: Betsy Buxton
Today while going through my e-mail, one of them really caught my eye. It was the monthly newsletter from BIRDS & BLOOMS, a magazine dedicated to those who both garden and bird-watch. I first came across this magazine when my mother, who subscribed, gave me her copies. I always thought of it as one of those publications for the “older set” and didn’t give it much thought. After mom passed, the subscription still had 3 years left, so I kept getting it. The more I read it, the more interesting this magazine became!
So here it is 2013 and now I have my own subscription that is complimented by this monthly on-line feature. Sometimes the features are on target and other times they are not –when not, it’s usually big time: articles that pertain to the Mid West only.
Imagine my surprise when the topic for this month is “Plants for Clay Soil”. I had to read the article thoroughly in case it held nuggets of wisdom I should -- nay, must have! I feel better now, since most of the plants listed are in my yard! Asters were the first on their list (which is only correct as these plants are listed alphabetically). Not only it common name; botanical name (a real plus when you are actually looking for the listed plants!); hardiness, bloom season; size ( that’s another big plus to the list); flowers, both colors and shape; light needs; growing advice (this is necessarily somewhat vague when you consider that this advice is trying to cover the entire USA, but you can tweak it according to where you happen to be); and, finally, what is called the “prize picks” or listing of what the editors consider to be the best variety.
Of the plants selected, I have the day lily (hemerocallis), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) Viburnum (Viburnum sps), and various ferns including the squirrel’s foot fern (Polypodiumspp.), which hangs from a piece of all-thread screwed into the pergola . Potentilla (Potentilla fruitcosa) is a favorite as a small ground cover in the side yard, running into the baby’s tears (Soleirolia soleirolii).
The entire list is Aster, Black-eyed Susan, Coreopsis, Daylily, Ferns, Japanese Iris (mine died a very painful death, at least to my wallet), Runner bean, Switchgrass, Potentilla, and Viburnum. How many do you have in your yard?
PS: To those of you who noticed that the Switchgrass was listed before the Potentilla, it’s because using botanical names, Panicum comes before Potentilla!
Now to go and unwrap and plant my new rose from Vintage Gardens. The last sale – until the management announces another release before they go out of business for good!
PPS: I guess I have joined the “older set”!
- Author: Kathy Low
I love watching the occasional jack rabbit run across the field behind my house. But that love quickly turns to dismay when the rabbit heads toward my yard to feast on my bean seedlings. Although cute, they can do a lot of damage in your garden.
Back in the 1880’s to 1900 California was overrun with wild jack rabbits. Settlers, who cleared the land of chapparal and brush planted crops across vast areas and provided an abundant food source for the rabbits. This new abundant food source that helped spur a wild rabbit population explosion. Because their sheer numbers threatened the state’s agricultural production, rabbit drives became popular across the state. Men and boys with clubs would corral masses of wild rabbits into a fenced enclosure then beat them to death. A barbecue would then follow what was once a very popular community event. Just to give you an idea of the magnitude of the jack rabbit problem, one single drive in Fresno reportedly killed some 20,000 rabbits, while drives in other communities generally reported only several thousand rabbits killed per drive.
Today the rabbit population is significant decreased from the 1880’s and there are several more humane ways of dealing with them. The two least harmful methods include the use of repellants containing putrescent whole egg solids, and building a rabbit fence from something like chicken wire around the plants or trees to be protected. These and additional methods for dealing with rabbits can be found in the Pest Note for Rabbits available on the UC Davis Integrated Pest Management website at www.ipm.ucdavis.edu.
Determined to have fresh asparagus beans this summer, I’ve once again replanted some seeds, this time with temporary chicken wire fencing around where the seeds have been planted. Since I hate any type of fences, once the seeds sprout and the plants grow to about two feet tall, I plan on removing the fence. By then the jack rabbits will have hopefully moved onto a more hospitable feeding area.