- Author: Saoimanu Sope
Along Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach, atop a small hill, sits a residential community for adults with disabilities. When you get past the gate to Glennwood Houseand look beyond the parking lot, you'll immediately notice the quaint oasis of swinging benches enclosed by vegetables growing in large pots and along walkways.
The garden, which is maintained by the residents, was created in spring 2022 by Monica Mehren Thompson and Robbie Prepas, two UC Master Gardener volunteers of Orange County.
The UC Master Gardeners program is a public service and outreach program of University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. Through the efforts of more than 6,000 Master Gardener volunteers across the state, the program is a unique driving force of change in local communities.
Thompson and Prepas completed their 16-week Master Gardener training in 2021 and quickly turned to Glennwood House for an opportunity to apply their newly acquired skills. Troy, Thompson's son, was a resident at Glennwood for nine years, making her decision to develop a garden on the grounds an obvious choice.
“This place is truly magical,” said Thompson.
Prepas agreed and shared that the residents play an active role from beginning to end. “We take the residents with us when we buy seeds so that they can choose what they want to grow,” she explained.
The garden has only experienced two plantings so far: spring and fall 2022. When it's time to harvest, the residents eagerly gather to taste the fresh vegetables and herbs. During the week, dinners are prepared by a professional chef, who incorporates ingredients pulled from the garden.
This will soon change, however. Since the residents enjoy the hands-on opportunity to cook so much, they'll now be in charge of preparing lunch and dinner every Friday. To kick start this shift, the residents prepared a huge salad and spaghetti with vegetable marinara sauce. The meal was a big hit and the residents were so proud of their creation.
“This is an all-out, very sophisticated effort with the Master Gardeners,” said Faith Manners, Glennwood House CEO.
Glennwood House is unlike other residential communities for persons with special needs in that it is home to 46 residents. “It's one of the largest supported-living communities in the U.S.,” Manners said, adding that Glennwood has an enormous waiting list.
According to Janet Parsons, development and facility director at Glennwood House, Laguna Beach genuinely embraces Glennwood residents. “When we're out and about, you should just see how warm and welcoming the community is towards our residents. Everyone is always engaging and smiling,” she shared.
Recently, the Laguna Beach Garden Club caught wind of the community garden at Glennwood and made a $1,500 donation to help fund materials.
Janet Chance, president of the Garden Club, credited Glennwood as one of the few places that caters to adults living with disabilities, commending their ability to cultivate a sense of belonging and integrate them into the greater Laguna Beach community.
While Chance regrets not having the time to become a Master Gardener herself, she attends some of the classes they teach in the Laguna Beach community. “The work they do is remarkable,” she said, adding that the club's recent donation was “one of the best” they have ever made.
Parsons said that it's important for the residents to feel independent. Therefore, the administration and the staff prioritize intentional programming. For example, instead of simple activities like coloring, Glennwood hosts advanced art sessions so that interested residents are learning techniques that will strengthen their artistic capabilities.
The same idea applies to the “farm-to-table” experience Thompson and Prepas have established.
“Just because the residents are living with a cognitive disability, it doesn't mean they're incapable of learning new things,” Parsons said. “They will tell you when something is boring or when they're not interested. So, we try to select activities or programs based on skills, personal interests and goals.”
While being recognized for the positive effect the gardeners have on the residents, Prepas quickly interjected that the real positive effect is the one that residents have on her. “I've learned so much from them,” she said. “They're incredible and so much fun to be around.”
Thompson, whose son lived at Glennwood until he passed away earlier this year, describes the Glennwood community as her family. Seeing Thompson's delight while gardening or cooking with the residents, it's easy to understand what she means.
“My husband has always supported philanthropy,” said Thompson. “But he says this feels like so much more than that. Because it is!”
To learn more about the UC Master Gardener program visit https://mg.ucanr.edu/.
Hope to see you at one of these events happening this weekend, Saturday, March 18, 2023.
Modesto Farmers Market
Turlock Community Gardens Workshop-Plant Swap-Potluck Palooza
Turlock Community Gardens invites you to stop in for a visit or for the day, activities for all ages are happening.
UCCE Master Gardener Composting Basics Workshop 9:00am-10:30am
Learn about how to compost at home! Reduce your carbon footprint & recycle kitchen/garden scraps. This workshop is a great opportunity to hear from an expert and ask questions, plus one lucky person is going home with their own compost bin!
Let's share cuttings, rooted plants, extra gardening supplies, seeds and any tips and tricks to help out our fellow plant enthusiasts! We will be doing a round robin with wristbands. If you don't have anything to bring, you are still welcome to take items home. There is always more than enough to share, especially extra perlite!
Rock Painting Station
Decorate a rock to take home or gift to the garden. Paint, brushes, and rocks will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own.
Turlock Community Potluck
Bring your favorite dish or just bring yourself! Enjoy a slice of pizza while exchanging tips/tricks. It's a great way to meet neighbors, network and have some fun.
As a reminder, TCG asks children to be always supervised and for everyone to be mindful not to disturb the garden beds. They are lovingly maintained by different families and groups.
Be sure to check out the Free Garden Items & Seed Exchange Cabinet and Free Little Library. (Take what you need, give what you can.)
Turlock Community Gardens and parking are located behind the Cornerstone Covenant Church (4501 Crowell Road) and the nonprofit, Jessica's House. If you have any questions about the Turlock Community Gardens event, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Several local agencies will have booths with educational information about pollinators and how we can help them thrive. Come spin the wheel/guess the pollinator at the UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program table and take home a sticker or a bookmark.
This is a free family event with many activities for children. Crafts and games will also be included. A demo beehive will give children a close up look at bees. Food trucks will be on site to provide lunch. This will be a fun day for kids, so put this on your calendar!
Rhonda Allen has been a UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener since 2020.
Sat, 3/4 at 2:00 p.m. – Empire Library
Tues, 3/7 at 6:00 p.m. – Salida Library
Wed, 3/8 at 2:30 p.m. – Patterson Library
Sat, 3/11 at 2:00 p.m. – Riverbank Library
Mon, 3/13 at 6:00 p.m. – Ceres Library
Tues, 3/14 at 6:00 p.m. – Oakdale Library
Wed, 3/22 at 6:00 p.m. – Turlock Library
Mon, 3/27 at 5:30 p.m. – Modesto Library
Don't see your local library on our list? Contact them to request our classes./span>
- Author: Denise Godbout-Avant
There are three groups of plants that attract birds and each group draws different types of birds: Nectar plants, plants that provide seeds or nuts, and plants that produce berries or fruit. Many plants will provide more than one source of food, i.e., nectar in the spring and berries in autumn.
Here is a list of a few favorite native plants in each group and some of the birds they may attract.
Hummingbirds and Nectar
Hummingbirds prefer tubular shaped flowers that fit the length of their beak, and are bright in color, particularly red. Native salvias (sages), penstemon, columbine, and honeysuckle all serve up nectar for hummingbirds.
- Sages (Salvias): There are about 18 sages native to California, with Hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea) being one of them. The common name says it all! Fruity scented dark rose-lilac blossoms appear in March – May. It also produces autumn seeds that attract birds such as sparrows and finches.
- Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis). A small deciduous tree or shrub found in the foothills and mountains of California with distinctive shiny heart-shaped leaves. The showy bright pink or magenta flowers develop in the later winter and spring, growing in clusters all over the shrub, making the plant very colorful and noticeable in the landscape. Goldfinches and sparrows will feed on seeds produced in the fall.
- California Fuchsia (Epilobium canum). There's probably no better California native plant for attracting hummingbirds. A perennial plant, it blooms a bright profusion of scarlet flowers in spring and summer, and is often the only native California flowering plant blooming at the height of summer.
Birds That Eat Seeds
- Bush sunflower (Encelia californica), commonly referred to as "California bush sunflower.” With abundant bright yellow daises, it is beautiful in late winter through summer. Attracts goldfinches, sparrows, orioles, crows, Scrub jays, grosbeaks.
- California aster (Symphyotrichum chilense). A member of the Asteraceae family it is native to western North America. The summer blooming flowers come in blues, purples and yellow colors. It is also a host plant for the Northern Checkerspot, Field Crescent and Pearl Crescent butterflies.
- Deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens), also known as Meadow Muhly and Deer Muhly, is a summer-growing, perennial bunchgrass whose seeds attracts woodpeckers, finches, grosbeaks, crows and jays.
Berry Plants are Important to Birds
Many shrubs and small trees provide berries that ripen at different times, so providing a seasonal variety, such as cherries for birds during the breeding seasons of spring and summer, and holly in winter, helps sustain birds throughout the year.
- Golden Currant (Ribes aureum). A deciduous plant that blooms in late winter and spring with golden yellow flowers that attract hummingbirds. The ripe berries in autumn are amber yellow to black in color, are edible, and attract a wide range of birds. There are two main varieties: Ribes aureum var. aureum and Ribes var. gracillimum.
- Blue Elderberry (Sambucus Mexicana). Also known as Mexican elderberry, the berries from elderberries are one of the most important sources of food for birds in California. Native from Oregon to Baja all the way to western Texas, it has cream or yellow flowers in the spring and purple berries in the fall.
- Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia). Toyon is a beautiful perennial chapparal shrub native throughout the western part of California and the Sierra foothills. It is also known by the common names Christmas berry and California holly from the bright red berries it produces during the winter months, which are produced in large quantities, maturing in the fall and persisting well into the winter. Note: the berries are toxic to humans in large amounts.
- California False Buckthorn (Frangula californica). This perennial, evergreen shrub is also known as Coffeeberry due to its berries containing seeds that resemble coffee beans. The shrub produces small, greenish white flowers in the summer, followed by dark berries that are sought after by birds.
By providing a variety of native plants that produce nectar, seeds and berries to attract different types of birds, you'll be providing a healthy haven for birds all year round, along with many other species of pollinators such as bees and butterflies!
Denise Godbout-Avant has been a UCCE Stanislaus County Master Gardener since 2020.
California Native Plant Society https://www.calscape.org/ and garden planner https://gardenplanner.calscape.org/
A list of plants that naturally attract California Birds to your Garden https://www.laspilitas.com/bird.htm
Audubon native plants database https://www.audubon.org/native-plants