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Garden Groups Enhance our Visual Environment: Part II

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By Joan Bergsund Master Gardener

Last week we introduced you to several garden-oriented groups in Tuolumne County, including the Master Gardeners, the Tuolumne Garden Club, and the Sonora Beautiful Committee. Today we´ll continue our look at the numerous local garden groups which undertake projects to benefit the greater community.

The California Native Plant Society encourages the use of native plants in our landscape. Meeting monthly, their programs are open to the public and cover information about native plants and their protection, and the ecology of California. They maintain a large growing area where they propagate and prepare plants for their two sales each year, held in October and April. They have established an education program for local schools in Calaveras and Tuolumne Counties by providing literature and CD´s for their use. An interesting local note is that Ty Smith, recently of Sonora Repertory Theatre´s King Lear fame, is the narrator. These CD´s may be for sale in the future.

The Garden Exchange is an enthusiastic group of 40 gardeners which meets monthly at members´ homes to hear a speaker and tour the hostesses´ gardens. While they don´t support gardening projects for the public benefit, they are expanding their knowledge base, and this is a good thing.

The Sierra Rock Garden Society sponsors an annual tour of local rock gardens. Most often in the spring, when the gardens are bursting with new growth and color, this has inspired additional members who have joined the group, numbering almost 40. This month the members are meeting at one of our nursing homes to demonstrate dish gardens of tiny succulents, and to work with each resident to create his own. All materials are donated, of course, and this has been a popular outreach program for several years. They have a speaker several times a year, and these meetings are open to the public. The next speaker is a specialist on succulents and cacti—watch for the announcement in January.

The Golden Sierra Rose Society has been blooming since October of 2002, and meets January through November on the first Sunday of the month at the Eagle Cotage in Columbia. These meetings are open to the public and often include a program and speaker. They publish a newsletter each month on rose-related subjects for their members. Currently they are working with Columbia State Historic Park to re-create the rose garden at the Fallon House. A charming old garden, the rose survival rate will be enhanced by the removal of old tree limbs and overhead growth to let in more sunlight.

Have I missed your garden club? Be sure to let us know, so we can include your activities in a future article. Would you like more information about any of these groups? Contact the UCCE office at 533-5695.

Free Mulching Chips

And speaking of benefit to the community, the Highway 108 Fire Safe Council is giving away free wood chips for mulching or landscaping. Chips are the product of fire safe fuel and slash reduction projects. The chip pile is located at Jenness Park just south of Highway 108. Whether a bucketful or a truckload, the chips are free for the taking. Drive Highway 108 east toward Sonora Pass to the Jenness Park sign. Turn right on the Jenness Park road to the chip pile, which is not visible from Highway 108, and help yourself.

Garden Tour Nominations

Have a favorite garden or gardener that you´d like to see honored on the Master Gardener Garden Tour being planned for Sunday, May 21, 2006? Know someone whose gardening practices are especially appropriate to the Mother Lode? Call the Master Gardener office at 533-5696 with your nominations or e-mail

We´ll see you in the garden.

Joan Bergsund, a Master Gardener, enjoys meeting with other like minded gardeners, and is a member of several of the groups described