Message from our President
September will be long remembered as the month when a week of record high temperatures was followed by an early, robust rainstorm. October may bring more weather surprises. Hopefully not on the two days of Milo Baker’s annual fall plant sale. The nursery is full of beautiful plants, ready to go into gardens all over the county. There are plants for every one of the microclimates that Sonoma County enjoys, from cool moist coastal to inland hot dry. The Plant Sale crew is busy planning logistics; we hope to see you all Friday or Saturday.
The 51st annual plant sale will be held on October 7 and 8 at the Laguna Foundation, 900 Sanford Rd., Santa Rosa. On Friday, October 7, from 3-6 pm there will be a special members only sale. Bring your own cardboard box, Please do not arrive early. There is no parking on Sanford Rd. before the gate opens. Check our website for more information about the Plant Sale and a complete inventory of plants.
As the new year approaches we have some changes of Board Chairs. A huge thank you to Judith Rousseau who is retiring as Sales person for books, t-shirts and posters. She has also been our interim publicity person, now for several years. Her constant attention to detail and cheerful willingness to adapt to changing demands has been wonderful for our group. We are going to miss her but hope she continues to volunteer with Milo Baker. She leaves a gap in our Board, however, and we are actively looking for a Publicity person. Erika Erzberger has agreed to take over the sales, however she is looking for a Co-Chair to share the job. We are also looking for a person to help with Social Media and hospitality. If you are interested in any of these activities, we welcome you. Attending meetings is not required! We do have fun at the meetings, however.
October is also the month of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) Conference to be held in San Jose. This takes place every 3 years and provides a wide range of information on all aspects of native plant conservation, education and governmental policy. There will be a group from Milo Baker attending, including Betty Young who will be a presenter. The Conference is sold out!
Also big news at state CNPS is that the Board has hired a new Executive Director. The news was announced at the September Chapter Council Meeting. She is Dr. Jun Bando, PhD, of Sacramento. Dr. Bando is an ecologist with a 20-year career spanning higher education, international diplomacy, and advocacy. “In the face of global climate and biodiversity crises, CNPS’s mission to save California’s native plants and habitats has never been more relevant,” Dr. Bando said. “I’m thrilled to be joining an amazing team of people working to power the native plant movement through both head and heart.”
As fall approaches, a new growing season is upon us. There will be fresh cool scents to follow on walks. Also, we’ll face a long list of chores to put plants in the ground and to control those inevitable weeds that come with fresh rain.
– Wendy Smit, Milo Baker President
Hot Off the Press – The Sonoma County Native Plant Gardener
Get your copy at the plant sale. This 41 page guide to native plant gardening right here in Sonoma County, has design, plant selection, site preparation, planting and maintenance guide, along with lists and photos of the plants in our local plant communities (for those going local), many handy charts on how to prune and maintain the common native plants, lists of native plants for different situations, and lists of many resources. Printing prices have skyrocketed along with everything else, so we are offering at our cost of $20. But worth it for this beautiful publication.
Thanks especially to April Owens, landscape designer, for writing the design section, to the booklet committee; Cindy Tancreto, Pat Sesser, Penny Dalton, Natasha Granoff, Liz Parsons, Wendy Born, and Marcia Johnson, for their support and advice, to Soli Martinez for her beautiful graphics and patience with all our edits, and to Lynnette Bower for coordination between authors and Soli and for coordinating printing.
– Betty Young, Lead Author
Horticulture by Liz Parsons
It may seem that when I write about growing California native plants in the garden, I have failed to first establish why and, instead have addressed how. Why is an important question, and since our plant sale is very soon, I want to address it now.
In the world of horticulture there are many areas in which to specialize. There are plant societies for just about every group of plants...fuchsias, roses, orchids, iris, ferns, and of course, California native plants. As an immigrant to California, I was intrigued by the new plants that I saw everywhere. I wanted to learn more about them, especially how to grow them in my own garden. I have spent the last 40 years exploring the world of plants that are native to California. Growing and propagating these plants has been an endlessly fascinating pursuit. My association with the CNPS and the Milo Baker Chapter has provided me with support and continued learning. The field trips and the monthly speakers continue to bring new ideas and experiences.
Growing native plants in the garden has been elevated to a new level, as ecological consciousness has been raised by a growing movement which encourages gardeners to grow habitat gardens. In this endeavor, the gardener attempts to re-create the plant community that existed before the bulldozers moved in and houses were built. By returning some of the native vegetation to the garden, the gardener also welcomes into their yard the birds, butterflies, and other inhabitants that were replaced to make room for people and their needs. Douglas W. Tallamy has written a wonderful book called Bringing Nature Home—How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants (Timber Press). His ideas are wonderful, but his plant choices are oriented towards the Eastern U.S. However, the California Native Plant Society is an important source of information about how to put his ecological ideas into practice here in Sonoma County.
People new to growing native plants in their gardens should take every opportunity to observe natives in home gardens (the Eco-Friendly Garden Tour will be back this year), botanical gardens, and in the wild. Observe the ultimate size of plants, their habits and habitats. I find that the best way to find out about a plant is to grow it in your garden. This is the fun of growing any plant, but more so with a plant that is a reminder of the wild areas of our state. Natives can be easily integrated into other types of gardens—the shade garden, the water garden, the meadow, the woodland, etc.
In response to the rising interest, the amount of published information on growing California native plants has mushroomed in recent years. The Milo Baker Chapter has just published a booklet called Sonoma County Native Plant Gardener-How to Get Started. It is a wonderful introduction to growing natives, but the information is useful for all gardeners.
Many plants are sold as cultivars of native species and these have been selected because they perform better in nursery and garden situations. Selections are also made on the basis of flower size and color or other appealing characteristics. For instance, Salvia clevelandii has many cultivars. The two that will be at the sale are S.c.’Pozo Blue’ and ‘Allen Chickering’. Both are very garden worthy shrubby sages.
The Milo Baker Chapter plant sale will be held on Saturday, October 8, 10 am to 1 pm at the Laguna nursery, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa. For members there will be an opportunity to buy plants on Friday, October 7, 3 pm to 6 pm. I hope to see you there.
– Liz Parsons, Milo Baker Vice President
Vine Hill Manzanita – You Can Help Save this Endangered Species
The Vine Hill manzanita (Arctostaphylos densiflora) now occurs naturally in only one place in the world – our CNPS Vine Hill Preserve north of Sebastopol. However, that site has become completely contaminated with water/soil-borne organisms causing root rot (Phytophthora spp.). That's the disease we keep talking about and why we built our nursery so clean uninfected plants can be grown.
Over the last couple of years, after receiving a permit from CA Department of Fish and Wildlife, we began propagating cuttings from each of the surviving plants at Vine Hill with the hope of establishing new populations at other appropriate protected sites. We currently have about 250 Vine Hill manzanitas in our nursery. We just received permission to out-plant them this winter. Hooray. The plants will all be tested to assure they are not infected before they are planted.
We have identified the Pitkin Marsh Preserve, above Hwy 116 south of Forestville as a prime location for out-planting. The land is a Sonoma Land Trust Preserve and with their generous support, we have been invited to create a home for our young plants to grow and hopefully thrive
Entering the preserve from Hwy 116, we will hand carry one-gallon jugs of water to the top of the hill, dig holes, lay landscape fabric and pre-water, if necessary. The following day we will return with 1 and 3-gallon potted plants to the top of the hill, plant, water again, and add deer protection cages. We anticipate needing 10 people to make quick work of this project and hope you can join us.
If you are feeling hardy and want to help save this species, let me know. Contact Betty Young, firstname.lastname@example.org or cell 707-695-4257. I will contact you when planting is scheduled.
Thank you to Sonoma Land Trust, our members and to the nursery volunteers for your support to save this rare and special native species.
ReOak Sonoma County
We are leading an effort to plant oaks on large properties in Sonoma County where oak woodlands can be expanded or re-established. As of this writing, we are collected acorns from areas near where plantings will happen. This winter we will either provide these appropriate acorns to landowners to plant themselves or, if they are unable, we (hopefully including you) will plant acorns and protect them then with cages.
If you would like to help, please contact Betty Young, email@example.com,
– Betty Young, Nursery Chairperson
Ongoing Volunteer Opportunities
Living Learning Landscapes Workday – second Friday of the month (9:30 am - noon). Meet at 1808 Albany Drive in Santa Rosa. Please RSVP to April Owens firstname.lastname@example.org so we know to expect you!
Weekly Doran Beach Ice Plant Removal – every Wednesday (9:30 am - 11:30 am). Meet at 9:30 at the Cypress Day Use parking lot, west end. Bring clippers and gloves and knee pads if you like. One of the most pleasant workdays happens every week – a trip to Doran Beach to pull ice plant. We are clearing out the ice plant that is in the marshland to make room for natives. It is very visual and quite satisfying, with the sound of the waves, birds and foghorn.
Bodega Head Ice Plant Removal Project – second Sunday of each month (10:00 am - 1:00 pm). CNPS is leading volunteers at Bodega Head to save native species from getting smothered by ice plant. Meet at the main parking lot near the bathrooms. Bring water, clippers and gloves if you have them. Text Alynn at 707-321-1748 for more information and to let us know that you are coming.
For more information, please visit the Volunteer Opportunities page on our website.