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A Gardener’s Thoughts on Valentine’s Day

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Each year on February 14th we honor our loved ones with a gift, flowers, unexpected act of kindness or a special card, hand-lettered or carefully chosen.  Everyone qualifies—young and old lovers, moms and dads, kids, special friends, and all combinations thereof. This is also a time to plan your own garden for spring and summer.

This year, what about offering a Valentine’s gift to some of the inhabitants who share your outdoor space? As our thoughts turn to spring and love, consider participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count to assist in gathering information about some of our favorite fellow creatures. In 2023, the Great Backyard Bird Count will be held from February 17 – 20. For more information and to learn how to participate in this global event, go to

If you’re thinking of a gift for a fellow human being, consider a couple of ideas for this, or next year. As gardeners, we suggest plants, and the ubiquitous rose comes to mind. Bare root roses are available now. Our nurseries, florists and markets have bouquets ready-to-go. Or you can create a gift of your own. Plant a container with interesting plants and foliage and give it as a gift.

Check the garage for an old pot or interesting container not in use. Add soil (a nursery planting mix is best). Then plant a combination of leaf textures and colorful annuals, ground covers or perennials. Just be certain they all have the same water and sun requirements. If you’re a novice, ask the nursery staff for advice.

Here’s another idea. This time of year, look for ornamental quince, blueberry, pear or forsythia (from your own garden preferably, or a neighbor’s, with permission).  Cut long branches and bring them indoors. Smash the thick woody stems with a hammer for maximum water intake. Place them in a tall vase and watch spring’s beauty unfold as the tight buds bloom in the warmth of your home, or give it as a gift to a friend or loved one.

February is also a good time to survey your garden and plan for the oncoming year. Make decisions about what comes out and what stays in. Sit down with your honey, your garden books, seed catalogs and make a plan. What will you try to achieve? Play space for the kids? Pretty flowers to gaze upon? Herbs for the cook? Whatever you decide, there’s local advice available.  To help you with the task of planning and planting your spring garden, UCCE Master Gardeners of Tuolumne County are collaborating with FoCuS (Foothill Collaborative for Sustainability) in the annual Seed Share on Saturday, February 25th, from 10 – 3. This year, it will be held in the easily-accessible Tuolumne County Senior Center at 540 Greenley Road in Sonora. A variety of seeds will be available for sale, including cool and warm season vegetables, heirloom vegetables, herbs and flowers.  Cost is 10 packets of seeds for a $10 donation; either checks or cash are accepted. There will be speakers on various topics of interest from seed starting, to “What is Permaculture?” and water-conserving irrigation techniques for your garden.             H A P P Y   V A L E N T I N E’ S  D A Y !!!


*Joan Bergsund is a former University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener of Tuolumne County.