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Garden Groups Enhance our Visual Environment

By Joan Bergsund

Tuolumne County benefits from numerous garden groups which undertake projects to benefit the greater community.

You´re familiar with Master Gardeners. Certified by the University of California Cooperative Extension to consult with the public about garden matters, these are volunteers who´ve successfully completed a 50-hour course of study. They agree to donate 50 hours of volunteer activity initially and then 25 additional hours each year. In Tuolumne County there are currently 45 people who are certified Master Gardeners, with another class of 60 candidates starting in January.

When you drive by the Mother Lode Fairgrounds on Stockton Street, that garden triangle at the entrance is maintained by Master Gardeners. At most times of the year it´s bursting with color—and guaranteed to catch your eye.

Another project has been the development of a demonstration garden at Cassina High, working together with the students. It´s an ambitious undertaking, and still requires much cooperation and effort. The Sonora Veterans Memorial Hall on Washington Street graciously allows us to use their meeting room in exchange for planting and maintaining the small garden in front of the building.

The annual Garden Tour in May is sponsored by Master Gardeners and presents a variety of garden styles which demonstrate best practices. At the very least, it´s an opportunity to view gardens around the county and is a popular annual event.

Do you have a copy of the “Farms of Tuolumne County” brochure? Published by the University of California Cooperative Extension, it was available at the Farmers´ Market all summer, and can now be found at the Cooperative Extension office on Washington Street. This publication is free and overflowing with information about agricultural producers within our midst. The headings read from Beef to Vineyards, and everything in between. Currently you´ll want to check it for local Christmas tree growers.

The Tuolumne Garden Club, which is a member of the National Garden Clubs of America, will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. With a current membership of 42, they meet on the second Friday of each month; their meetings are open to the public.

Their list of projects is impressive. They provide two $500 scholarships to Columbia College students studying Natural Resources. They created and maintain the Blue Star Memorial garden and plaque honoring American Armed Forces near Tuolumne Park and the Heisler Locomotive #2 . They have spruced up two rooms at Tuolumne General Hospital. They contribute to Sober Grad each year. They raise funds by plant, bake, and bulb sales.

They also contribute loose change to the Penny Pines Plantation box at each meeting. Penny Pines Plantation is an extensive tree farm located in coastal California where 400 seedlings are planted to each acre of land. This club has purchased 112 plantations for a total of 44,800 trees over the course of 50 years. These trees are then planted in the redwoods at Big Basin State Park.

In February this chapter will host the district meeting (Valley Lode) in celebration of its 50th anniversary.

The Sonora Beautiful Committee, created in l982, takes on projects within the city and county, on public and private property, to enhance the landscaped environment. They have adopted Coffill Park and plant seasonal color in spring, rake leaves in fall, and prune in February. Over the years they have planted numerous trees, to augment Sonora´s designation as a “City of Trees.”

This hardy band of eight volunteers observes Arbor Day on every March 7th. This year they planted hackberry trees in front of the Sugg House on Theall Street. Other trees planted over the years include Bradford pears on North Washington Street at Cowan and at the Bank of America on Stockton Street. Crape myrtles flank the Opera Hall, tupelo trees adorn the horse trough parking lot on South Washington Street, silver maples were planted on Green Street across from the police station, liquidambars on Shepard Street, and Chinese pistache by the Fire Museum as well as at the city parking garage.

Some of these projects are in cooperation with the City of Sonora, and their Parks, Recreation and Beautification Committee. Others they finance themselves. Watch for the holiday swags along Washington Street. This group gathers the greens in the forest, constructs the swags—adding bows and pinecones—and will hang them on December 4th. Would you like to work with this group? They´re looking for volunteers.

Well, I´m out of space for this week, so we´ll continue with more garden groups in the future. See you in the garden.

Joan Bergsund, a Master Gardener, enjoys meeting with other like-minded gardeners, and is a member of several garden groups, some to be described in a future article.