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Kathy's Garden Chats - 2012

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Garden Chat: December 19, 2012

from Kathy Katz at

Oh what fun it is. With just two young people and Barb and me the 8th, Saturday was still fun. We are beginning to try to make small lattice work boxes with chicken wire linings to make attractive and useful protection for our veggies. If these work, and if they meet the attractive test, we may be able to let Society members and some of our students have their own small section of the Tree of Life Garden to take care of, with their names on it. Could prove invaluable, as we can be very productive up there with good protection from critters. We are still picking lovely, sweet, ripe tomatoes. Saturday, December 1st we enjoyed the last watermelon. Yes, it was ripe and delicious.

In other news, our plantings to hold the runoff from eroding the hill in the Southwest area are proving invaluable. So far so good, and if we need to we will plant more in there.

The yellow jade should be blooming soon, so look for yellow swaths of color. The roses are gorgeous just now, and the grasses still look pretty, though we will begin cutting them back next month so we will have a good display next fall.


Garden Chat: October 31, 2012

from Kathy Katz at

Hello Garden Lovers: The students have been at Rose Haven many Saturday's. They make working at the 'The of Life' a joy. The students were a big help for the "2012 Last Rose of Summer" event and some stayed a long time. Other members will cover all the events and doings of the last few weeks, I will just talk about the natural stuff. Please see our Temecula Valley RoseSociety Facebook site for pictures and more lively information. There will be a new TVRS Newsletter published November 1st. I hope all will look over the information available there.

We harvested the winter squash, and pumpkins that survived the critters, just in time for Halloween. Even a little gnawed or crooked, they looked fine for decoration or to be carved for jack-o-lanterns. We had tomatoes also, and found two good sized watermelons perfectly camouflaged under the vine. We were wondering if we should pull because it is so late in the season. Imagine watermelons in November, if the weather continues warm.

The tomatoes continue to ripen. I sure wish someone interested in heirloom tomatoes would take an interest in those pear-shaped yellow tomatoes. Low in acid, they have self-seeded in several different spots at Rose Haven. They are so adapted it would be a shame if a really hard frost put an end to them. Has anybody had successful experience saving tomato seeds? The fermentation method seems like a lot of work. Can't we just dry some tomatoes or dig up a plant or two and over-winter them at home?

I saw some volunteer basil. We are still awaiting the harvest of the healthy looking sweet potatoes, and Cynthia and her friends got that pesky bermuda grass out of the watermelon beds. Winter planting continues.

Sorry for the long absence of Garden Chat articles, but my energy and strength after having pneumonia has been slow in returning. Health to all, Kathy.


Garden Chat: August 28, 2012

from Kathy Katz at

Our Garden is still lovely. All the grasses are heading up and show the results of not pruning them back so far. Big and bold and golden. Those Octopus Agaves are tipping more and more as the new plants develop up and down the twenty foot stems. Each little pup is an easily rooted new plant, and there are surely thousands of them. I was not an agave enthusiast (except for Tequila), but have become a fan. How about you?

The roses seem pretty good for this time of year, perhaps less dead-heading is a help. Maybe we should take pictures and write up an article for the papers concerning just this one thing?

Up at The 'Tree of Life' we are having the best time. Many of the new covers to keep the critters out are working, and many are not. When I was young and worked for a lab, we learned how to set up clinical trials. We have some serious trials going up there, believe me. Just when I actually wrote down that the tomatoes seemed impervious to critters, I watched crows fight a squirrel over a lovely big green tomato. Actually, the crows may have been after the squirrel. Comedy abounds as the doves come every afternoon to eat the bugs, the squirrels jump the fence for the squash and pumpkins, and the bunnies seem really hungry too. We noted some volunteer tomatoes from last year that are growing without irrigation or fertilizer. Last Saturday the students tasted head to head the cultivated and the wild ones. Which were sweeter, juicier, firmer? Uh huh.

We also picked one of the onions that had rounded out, to see how it tasted. It was very hot and strong and the kids noted the first bite was okay but after that you had to eat a lot of tomatoes and drink a lot of water to get the taste out of your mouth. Next week the students hope to eat a melon they helped grow.

Now that school has started, the Green Thumb students will be there more regularly. While they can help with weed removal and clean up in the Rose Garden, I would like to remind everyone that the kids are just as likely to react to ragweed as we are, so let's be extra diligent and pass out gloves for their protection (they're in the tool shed). Please treat them like your own kids.


Garden Chat: July 26, 2012

from Kathy Katz at

Hi All: Many more people seem to be at the garden every time I pass by, a good thing. Last Saturday was busy at the Tree of Life vegetable garden. More clever coverings for watermelons and squash and pumpkins are paying off. Ingenuity against the critters, worth studying if you are planning to add to your health with some home produce. Frank and Wayne have really helped Barb Purdy, Rebecca, and JoAnn Summers get things going with the students and the coverings. Nadav Joshua has helped with wonderful weeding, fertilizing, and planting of sweet potato starts. We are also getting some hose bibs where we need them. Bonnie, Betty, Carol and new member Ray continue the care of the main gardens. Thanks.

Thursday 8 preschoolers from a Montessori play group came to tour the garden, see how veggies grew, and make and take home flower arrangement. Went beautifully. JoAnn and I found it fun and easy and moms and kids were thrilled.

Saturday July 28th a Scout Troop is coming to work at 8:30. If you have work, weeding or ideas for them, get in touch. I will know how many tomorrow night. Those Agave plants continue to soar. What a deal from a silly old plant. Kathy.


Garden Chat: June 22

from Kathy Katz at

Our garden is still full of roses, but everything is crispier with the dry, warm weather. We had our monthly Rose Haven meeting on Wed. the 27th. That is when the garden plans are made and it is always open to all members. The Yucca is blooming and the agaves are making babies all along the bloom stems. With these natives, and many others in the water wise area, those of us with allergies are less likely to react and can sometimes stay out longer. At the Tree of Life we have tomatoes and are struggling to salvage potatoes from gophers. We have many strategies and learn more all the time.

Garden Chat: June 15

from Kathy Katz at

Not a whole lot new this week at Rose Haven, it continues to be just gorgeous. A Spanish Dagger Yucca is about to bloom in the Native Plant Area, the roses have not been too stressed by heat and look just fine. The pond seems nice and clear.

A perfectly huge gopher was trapped up in the Tree of Life vegetable garden. It had been eating potato plants. We would have shared, but the plants were disappearing at a very rapid rate.

There is a good stand of tomatoes and we hope for the best. Last summer we all enjoyed taking home produce. This year there should be more to share. There are volunteer tomatoes all over the place if you take a careful look.

This Saturday we expect another group of Girl Scouts. We plan to set them to work weeding paths, as there are many new sprouts raising their obnoxious heads.

If you have more to say about the garden or some personal gardening tidbits please send them to me,

Garden Chat: June 7

from Kathy Katz at

Oh, I am so glad to be back. How I love my family in Texas, and how I love living here. This climate is my home.

The Rose Garden still looks Fabulous! The Octopus Agave's are still in full bloom. If they indeed make "babies" I am going to plant a triangle like that at my place. I encourage anyone who has the room to plant some to do the same. Frank has some at his home and is the expert to go to on this matter.

In the Native Plant category, the Desert Willow Trees are blooming. The purple blossoms and not too tall; these are a no-care plant and lovely addition to any garden. Hardly any water is required.

In full bloom is the succulent Jazz Time Jade. Look for the tall purple blooms on the side of the hill near the dry river bed. One large patch of it in the Succulent Area was the victim of gophers, but it is easily propagated and easy to contain and we plan to replant it. Look it over and consider using it to fill in around other plants. It's almost as good as some of the more overused ground covers.

There are many tomatoes planted at the Tree of Life, thanks to Barb Purdy, students, Daisy Scouts and the GOAH people, Carrin and Nadav. Now let's plant some of that great basil like last year and we are in. And Oregano. Yum! The lettuce cage has prevailed. Go pick some soon, as the season is ending and it will soon be bitter.

Pumpkins are planted and, if we can get that gopher that is eating our potatoes, happiness will prevail. I will put an ugly but effective fence around the gopher hole when I place the traps so dogs and passing humans will not disturb it. We are still doing without a fence and it is now apparent that the rabbits love the marigolds. If we could just invent a really attractive plant cover/protector.

I don't know much else while I was gone. if you have any additions please e-mail me at


Garden Chat: May 17

from Kathy Katz at

Last Saturday was the best Families in the Garden yet. Refined and shortened, the Youth Committee offered flower arranging under the trees down stairs, and planting pumpkins and other summer veggies and flowers upstairs. They utilized both the Tree of Life and the Rose Garden, plus a hike up the hill, to offer the kids a whole outdoors experience. Everyone had a blast.

The students from Chapparal High were there, and they protected more vegetable starts with wire grow cages, and were part of the Families project by being there and preparing the planting area so it made the soil loose enough so the little kids could dig. This made quite an important contribution for our community. Thanks, and enjoy the produce this summer.

Also, to see the Californian newspaper article about the garden benches built by Eagle Scout Christopher Le he installed by our pond, please use this link to it view on our website: Eagle Scout Le's Bench.

Garden Chat: May 17

from Kathy Katz at

It has been a long time coming, but I think we staged an almost perfect event on Saturday. The Rose Show and First Bloom were a blast and the garden couldn't have been lovelier, the weather was reasonable, everyone had a good time.

All the ideas, needs, publicity for Rose Haven, fundraising and financial limitations, programs for youth, exhibition of roses, support of rose and plant care came together in a way we always imagined, and without stress of past years (not that there was no stress). Leadership is to be honored and congratulated.

Since we will not be meeting until next month, all of you please accept our most sincere thanks. Many showed up early to set up and stayed late to tear down - the Bell, the Katz, the Moss, the Brodbeck, the Meyncke, the Rumbold, and the Coakes families to name a few. The Rose Show committee , with Jeanne Brubacker and all the staff, judges and entrants.

The efforts of our indomitable Ann Coakes and her whole committee. This does not yet include The Board, the Garden Committee, Youth Gardening. It all worked and was a thing to be proud of. It would not have happened without every pruned rose, every bit of publicity, every weed destroyed, every donation small and large.

A huge triumph, really. Note: Our member garden tour is Thursday, May 17th. Meet at 9 a.m. at Rose Haven for your map.

Garden Chat: May 4

from Kathy Katz at

All is well at Rose Haven. Weeds were sprayed for the third time Monday by Final Touch Landscaping.

Gophers were dealt with on Wednesday, compliments of Vineyard Valley Pest Control. This is a major donation, greatly appreciated. Please think about phoning them to if you have a pest problem. They were very helpful in helping us re-locate rather than kill two swarms of bees last year.

We're almost ready for the First Bloom Celebration next Saturday, May 12th. Please call Ann Coakes if you need an assignment or for any clarifications.

This Saturday, the 5th, many roses at Rose Haven could use some LIGHT dead-heading/pruning. Also, there are still weeds to remove. They were sprayed again last Monday, but Frank did not want chemical spraying done on top of the hill that he cares for. He plans to clip and remove any up there, and could use some help. Call him to find out when he will be there if you want to work with him. Otherwise, just dig, clip or pull any mustard weeds beside the paths.

There are many ways to deal with weeds. If it hurts your back, or you have any back or hip issues, you may not want to pull weeds. Many of us have been advised to mow, clip, dig, hoe, chop, suppress or spray with weed-killer, but not to pull weeds. There are lots of alternatives. Some people prefer pulling and it does not bother them at all. You can always phone me, Phyllis, Frank or other garden people for a nice discussion.

I have done my best to update news weekly of the garden, to complement our lovely monthly Newsletter. Still, miscommunication abounds, so I will try another dimension and tell what is going to happen. I therefore count on everybody to get me even more informed. Here goes with trying.

  1. Nadav will take the fence down around the Tree of Life for the sake of looks and tripping on the wire. We have had to make little covers for everything, except tomatoes and basil anyway, and we will see if there are insurmountable problems without the wire fence. We will haul the stuff out this week so it looks nice up there.
  2. Barb will have some tomato seedlings she started at home to sell to benefit Youth Gardening. Look for the table at the First Bloom Party.
  3. I have the bucket of gloves for volunteers. I found that half of them were in dire need of cleaning. I will put a new bucket, white and covered, so all can have clean gloves if they needed. Please inform me of other stuff that should be here at


Garden Chat: April 26

from Kathy Katz at

The Garden Committee met Wednesday and behold, our beautiful, gorgeous new donation box arrived. What a wonderful new addition, thanks to Frank.

Many flags for gopher treatment are placed on recent dirt mounds. Let us hope we get some of those critters.

The Garden continues Gorgeous. Everything is blooming.

We noticed that many of the Iris placed to "Naturalize" (live or die without irrigation) are doing remarkably well. They are also helping curb erosion in the gully area while looking awfully good. The body of the plant helps sift out and drop sand and silt from rushing water, filling in the holes and acting like miniature swales. The sand fills in behind them, the plant grows up through the sand and makes a fine dam. All our flowers do better with division and TLC, but some adapt to the wild life just fine and are useful in many ways. With a show of poppies, our erosion eyesore is slowly becoming a model erosion control project.

The Youth Gardening Third Saturday finally enjoyed some good weather and families came out. Jo-Ann Summers wrote "Hi garden buddies, I'm just so happy about how our lesson went. The moms said it was a great lesson and everyone seemed to enjoy it. They loved stuffing the bags with nest material, eating strawberries, planting seeds and just sharing their love of all things gardenish. Brenda, you got them off to a great start with the information. It was just right. I loved how they talked up and shared their ideas. Thanks to everyone for bringing stuffing for the bags and especially to Kathy for bringing the netting." A good turn out of eleven children and lots of moms and dads. Hope they spread the word about our lovely place. Very cool."

Up at the Tree of Life, the weeding has been done by Growing Organic at Home. Thanks Nadav, Carrin, and the Youth Gardening Committee for arranging for getting that done. We see the potatoes making a strong comeback from whatever ate them to the ground. Now we will see what it takes to protect the actual tubers as they plump up. After safely protecting the carrots as seedlings, something burrowed under the wire covering and decimated most of that bed. There are some things we may not be able to grow without a grow box like the one our student volunteer built. Barb has some tomato seedlings ready, those are next, and there are still some peas, strawberries, onions and broccoli (bolting now, but even the flowers are nice stir fried or steamed. Give them a try). I am sure I am missing something, but come out and see the roses, iris, poppies and the three towering agaves blooming their heads off.

Garden Chat: April 20

from Kathy Katz at

Ever wonder why you help support a giant Rose Garden? Go take a look at Rose Haven (30592 Jedediah Smith Rd., Temecula). Now, before the blooms fade. OMG!

On a more professional note, there are two new benches installed and gorgeous by the pond. What a project, but we will leave the full report for the May Newsletter.

The lettuce box is saving the lettuces, but the crows are going right through the wire to get our lovely carrots up at the Tree of Life. More covers are being commissioned and we hope the students will come and cut the bottoms off pots to cover each and every plant. Oh, those wicked critters.

We have lots of gophers, so our intrepid gopher hunter, Tony Chernise of Inland Valley Pest Control, came to Rose Haven to give an estimate for treatment. He said if we flagged all recent gopher activity by next week he would donate his service. What a great offer. If you need flags, or see a place of recent activity, give me a call and get some flags.

Once again we thank Jim Moss for his work on the water boxes and hose bibs. They have continued to be a problem, year after year, and he is really getting the repair job done properly.

Weeding and pruning and raking and cleaning up continue in preparation for our big weekend in May 12. The members only 'Rose Show' and 'First Bloom Party' should find a beautiful garden even if the first roses are here now. And Carol's iris are just terrific.

Get me any info. I forgot: Check out the blooming Aloes. They have blooms on the stems now and are a great focal point.

Garden Chat: April 14

from Kathy Katz at

Hi everyone. Sorry to be late this week but between the weather and the meetings there was not much to report until now. The Rose Haven workers decided to see about severely cutting back and removing the Tequila Agave that is so frost damaged that it is still really unattractive. After hacking at it with new blades on my reciprocating saw, I think removing it entirely was a bit optimistic. Howard and I agree that it will be difficult to get the truck close enough to insure removal with chains and failure would look worse than the present. We propose we just keep whittling it back until it looks good and drop something more attractive in front of it before the party.

The iris are blooming, the cocoa colored are my favorites. The roses are showing all over. Soon. Soon.

The Eagle Scout is placing the benches by the pond with pavers and gravel. There are many, many scouts and parents helping. It's just wonderful to see.

There is extra gravel. Some holes are being filled in and Frank is using more in the future events area. Barb is weeding and thinning carrots in the 'Tree of Life' area and the lettuce looks so pretty in its grow box. That's all for now. Everyone is neatening up for the First Bloom Party.

An additionally, a note from the Sierra Club — they have an excellent program next Thursday evening April 19, starting at 7:00 p.m. The featured program is all about grass, that's native grass that once dominated our hillsides and valleys but is now all but gone. Zachery Principe, a veteran biologist with the Nature Conservancy, is the speaker and will show us beautiful photographs of the native grasslands he has helped to preserve on the Santa Rose Plateau and other areas. Please join us at the Rancho California Water District Headquarters, 42135 Winchester Road, Temecula 92589. Questions? 951-764-1290.

Garden Chat: April 6

from Kathy Katz at

Quick, everybody, look in today's Press-Enterprise, Local Extra Section. A fabulous big picture and article about the May 12 First Bloom Event. Kathy Turgeon said she hoped the paper might want to scoop the others with early publicity, and they outdid themselves. Wow, great.

Starting with the Youth Garden, the students have been off due to the holidays, weather and illnesses. While the potatoes, carrots, onions and peas planted under Barb Purdy's care continue to prosper, so do the weeds. Our new lettuce cage is working perfectly to keep ALL the critters out. We found that fencing out rabbits and squirrels with our chicken wire cages over each plant did not stop the mice and those clever, clever crows. If they want it they will dig, pull, carry and eat to the roots. Those cages did stop them from flying off with the potatoes, thanks to Barb's perseverance.

We will continue to build more covers for seedlings this weekend.

In other garden news, the new shed is now in use. Jeanne Brubaker, Carol Hudson, Bonnie Bell and Phyllis Bettelheim did the re-arranging and listing of all the bottles and fixtures for the Rose Show. We now are out of the paid and inconvenient storage area.

Bonnie planted a lovely Tequila Agave from her home. Those at a focal point at Rose Haven were badly damaged by the frost and we are just now cutting them back. Jeremy, of Final Touch Landscape, decided not to cut them back until now as they would be killed by any further frost if they began to grow.

Jim and Laurie Moss continue to help all over the garden as their area is just perfect. Jim is fixing the hose bibs that freeze and break in winter, and intends to insulate them before it freezes this winter. He also sprayed a number on each of the purple valve boxes so that when we have a water problem we all know whereof we speak. Laurie is helping stamp out those noxious Star Thistles as they raise their ugly heads, even after a second weed spraying.

The blooming is beginning. Two of the Ceonothus (Native Lilacs) Carol Hudson planted last year are blooming. They are terrific plants, low water, come in several heights, widths and fragrances, and are available at the local native plant nursery, Las Pilitas, among others. The Octopus Agaves and are approaching 20 feet, I swear, and the Iris are ready.

I bet next week we will start to get some serious roses, as they are beginning to bloom here and there.


March 27

from Kathy Katz at

End of March: On the Rose Haven front, Tuesday saw a second weed spraying. Just in time, as the wicked yellow star thistle once again raised it's ugly head. This is a weed, a very invasive recent arrival, that many of us had never seen before and didn't worry about (it is kind of pretty) and has taken over many thousands of pasture acres in recent years. If you are interested look it up on the web.

The Moss' have topped up their reworking of the Hall of Fame with a pretty planting of succulents, and the roses are all perfect. The drip-line water is rerouted and repaired and today a lovely gazebo is being installed there. A "Thanks" to them and Denise Vacarro for this lovely improvement.

The blooming of the three Octopus Agave continues. They are more than twelve feet tall now, but they are still growing. Little yellow bumps are under the soft seeming grassy things on the stalk. Soon we hope to have lots of babies for all.

We will have hills full of flowers any week now, so drop by frequently. Those iris Carol Hudson has been babying are full of stalks ready to bloom. These are prize, recent, fantastic flowers with decadent falls and and frills all over their sweet faces full of intense colors. These were Norma and Leon Vogel's favorites, and they were reworked and separated just before Norma's passing this fall.

Frank has planted new roses in the Romantic area, eight big ones I hear. He has forgone the weed spraying in that area and has manually removed the weeds with lots of help from his friends. It looks wonderful, and a hope that some day we will find a means of suppressing the weeds in the whole garden enough to minimize spraying.

Lyse has about finished pruning the Miniatures. They look great, and I apologize for misspelling her name last week. Did I miss anything? Tell me and it will be fixed.

Spring at Rose Haven

and all is well.

Early March: The Greenthumbs and Families in the Garden, plus our New Member Orientation, were all rained out Sat. Mar. 17th. Rescheduled for this week-end, it looks like more rain. We will see.

Included is a picture of a terrific grow box designed and built by one of our student volunteers. Terrific, and the lettuce seeds we planted in there are all sprouting. We can not identify or show his face because of his age, but he does show terrific innovation. Thanks to you, Greenthumbs.


Carrots and peas are growing in the Tree of Life, strawberrys are growing and we are going to make more covers for our plants, as the crows and other critters are enjoying our sprouting potatoes. I will bring many large plastic pots; we will saw the bottoms off, put mesh over the top and cover everything those critters like to eat.

In the rest of the garden the Moss' care of Hall of Fame is as good as it gets. That part of the rose garden has never been cared for like that and it is well on its way to summer beauty. Lyse McDonagil has done such an artistic job in pruning and refining the Miniature Bed it looks like a whole new area. Thanks there.

There is some excitement about three Octopus Agaves beginning to bloom. They are about twelve feet high now, and still growing. Can not wait for the flowers to pop out. Frank promises we will see lots of babies on them soon; he and Wayne had some bloom on their property and promises we will have quite a show.

Everything looks very clean, and the roses are beginning to bloom. Several Scout groups are inquiring about work at the garden. We are beginning to plan for our First Bloom Party and all looks good.

If you have garden news please contact me at Good Gardening. Kathy.