Posts Tagged: master gardeners
“To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.” Mohandas K. Gandhi, World leader, political ethicist, lawyer
“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. ” May Sarton, Poet “
"May our heart's garden of awakening bloom with hundreds of flowers.” Thich Nhat Hanh, global spiritual leader and activist “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman philosopher
"The importance of encouraging our children in outdoor work with living plants is now recognized. It benefits the health, broadens the education, and gives a valuable training in industry and thrift. The great garden movement is sweeping over all America, and our present problem is to direct it and make it most profitable to the children in our schools and homes. — Van Evrie Kilpatrick, 1918, in “The Child's Food Garden”
As the above quotes so beautifully proclaim, interacting with nature, whether passively (viewing plants) or actively (gardening, etc.) offers many positive benefits. In fact, the link between horticulture and health and well-being has been scientifically documented for centuries. In 1812, psychiatrist, professor, and Declaration of Independence signer Dr. Benjamin Rush reported that patients participating in gardening activities had better mental health outcomes than non-gardening counterparts.
Many additional papers were published throughout the 1800's documenting benefits of active participation in gardening. More recently, positive links between simply viewing plants through a window or even on a television, movie, or exercise apparatus screen have been reported in peer-review journals. A groundbreaking study in this area was published in 1984 by environmental psychologist Robert Ulrich (Ulrich, 1984) who compared post-operative patients recovering from gall bladder surgery who had views of landscape plants to recovering patients who had the same surgery in the same facility with views of a brick wall. Patients with landscape views had fewer surgical complications, shorter hospital stays, required fewer analgesics, had better moods, and even fewer derogatory remarks by medical staff in their daily records.
Since 1984, dozens of other studies have documented similar positive outcomes resulting from both passive and active engagement with nature and plants. These include improved physical, mental and emotional health; environmental benefits; and community and societal benefits. Recent literature reviews that summarize these findings include:
- An overview of 77 peer-reviewed journal articles (Howarth, et. al., 2020) identified 35 positive outcomes linking physical and mental health and well-being to active and passive horticultural interactions. doi: https://10.1136/bmjopen-2020-036923
-A meta-analysis (Soga, 2016) of 22 studies identified several positive mental health outcomes related to gardening including mood, group cohesiveness, cooperation, pride, well-being, and more. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2016.11.007 -
An overview of 45 peer-review studies (Shepley, et. al., 2019) identified links between properly designed and maintained urban green spaces and crime, gun violence, and the overall safety and cohesiveness of low-wealth urban neighborhoods. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16245119
- A review of 120 papers (Crus-Piedrahita, et. al., 2020) reported public health benefits from urban horticulture activities in the global North. Thirty-two papers had a specific focus on social cohesion and/or social capital. https://doi:10.1016/j.glt.2020.10.001
-Alizadeh (2019) synthesized research regarding the environmental benefits of urban plants, highlighting their vital roles in combating climate change, cooling urban heat islands, providing habitat, removing air and water pollutants, enhancing soil health, and more. https://www.researchgate.net/deref/https%3A%2F%2Fdoi.org%2F10.1108%2FIJCCSM-10-2017-0179
Enjoy your garden! Enjoy a day in nature.
It's only right that our University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) San Bernardino County Master Gardener ‘Trees for Tomorrow' team of volunteers are our featured ‘Spotlight' Master Gardener volunteers for September, 2021. They provided vital education to Redlands residents receiving gratis trees through a multi-partnership grant obtained by Inland Empire Resource Conservation District Manager Mandy Parkes.
It's an honor and privilege to recognize UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener Project Leader Debbie LeDoux and her dedicated team of 'Trees for Tomorrow' volunteers: Zhibo (Sandy) Anderson; Consuelo (Connie) Davis (pictured); Pam O'Connell; Gail Sefl; and Husam Yousef. These dedicated Master Gardeners were tasked with helping residents select, plant and care for drought, heat, and pest tolerant trees. (Species including Chilopsis linearis 'Bubba', and Pistacia x 'Red Push' were selected due to their excellent performance in our University of California/United States Forest Service research project as 'climate-ready' trees able to withstand harsh conditions related to our changing climate.) Working with a team of California Climate Action Corps volunteers, civic leaders, Common Vision Coalition, and other groups, nearly 100 trees were planted in yards and parks lacking the preferred 25% tree canopy cover.
Trees can cool urban heat islands by 50 degrees Fahrenheit or more during spring and summer, creating welcome oases in hot inland communities. With spring 2021 temperatures so high they broke previous records on multiple dates, the project is especially timely and necessary.
In addition to proper tree selection, trees require the right long-term care. Master Gardeners will continue to provide advice on irrigation, pruning, fertilizing and pest control to residents receiving trees long after the trees are planted. This is critical since an average urban tree lives less than 20% of its potential lifespan due largely to poor care. The long-term engagement of Master Gardeners with residents is as important as is selecting the right species.
UCCE Master Gardeners are all volunteers, giving of their time and talents to enhance the quality of life for individuals and families who call San Bernardino County their home. Each Master Gardener is required to complete a rigorous 18-week training class complete with exams, class projects, and lots of participation! Due to COVID-19, volunteers had to master key horticultural concepts during the first ever all on-line training class. Only recently have they been able to meet fellow Master Gardener graduates and, in some cases, the Redlands residents they mentored through the tree canopy enhancement project. They truly exemplify community spirit and all it takes to successfully work together under adverse conditions. Kudos to each and every one of you from Master Gardener Coordinator Maggie O'Neil and myself! You are creating a cooler, greener and healthier environment for our children's children.
I asked the honored Master Gardeners their thoughts on the project. Here's what they had to say:
“The Redlands tree canopy project was the best volunteer project ever. In the midst of Covid-19, horrific politics and way too many good byes, it was a truly joyous experience. The legacy of being a part of the group that promoted healthy sustainable trees, knowledge of how to plant and care for them, tips on maintaining their health and beauty was the absolute best. For me as a Master Gardener, it was so much fun. I loved the site walks and getting to help our participants select the perfect sustainable trees for their properties. What started as a one-on-one visit often expanded to an enlarged group of neighbors and extended family. I got to give out many handouts and publications and promote our excellent Master Gardener program. I got to share our helpline email and phone numbers. I love the fact that I have been asked to revisit sites to see how great they are doing (once to make sure the tree did not look funny!). I receive emails every now and then asking me questions and showing me pictures of "Our Trees.” So much fun, Janet. Thank you. By far the coolest project ever! Pam O'Connell
There are a few things that really made an impact on me.1) It was rewarding to attend the Zoom presentation you developed that provided education to various professionals on the importance of planting sustainable trees. I found it to be open and inclusive allowing for good interchange of ideas and concerns.2) There are many beautiful trees that are sustainable.3) Reaching out to the community to offer beautiful, sustainable trees was a worthwhile way to show how various organizations can work together to benefit the community while trying to improve our environment.4) When dealing with homeowners that belong to an HOA, additional time and communication may be needed to assist them in obtaining approval for trees from their HOA's. Connie Davis
"I see tree planting efforts similar to what a trend of the future is to combat climate change and increase awareness of the importance of trees and tree canopies in our neighborhoods. Not only that but I see this project expanded to other cities in the county of San Bernardino. The continuity of this project is so valuable so that we can see the positive impact on the environment and the well-being of San Bernardino residents in the coming decades. I see this important work being organized and well-coordinated by involving the appropriate stakeholders at all stages of the planning project. It is about time to give back what we have taken for tens of years!" Husam Yousef
It was rewarding to see local homeowners excited about planting trees and grateful for the program providing them. Gail Sefl
THANK YOU ALL! Janet Hartin and Maggie O'Neill
With only a few short weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas and two very similarly looking plants, you may be wondering whether the gift a loved one gave you for Christmas is a Thanksgiving cactus or a Christmas cactus. (Many sold in local nurseries and large box stores this past Christmas season were actually Thanksgiving cactus (S. truncata), pictured below). While both are native to tropical regions of Brazil, host a wide array of flowers ranging from the more traditional pink hues to newer hybrids showing off white, red, yellow, and purple, they have different bloom periods. The Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii), blooms about a month after the Thanksgiving cactus.
The Christmas cactus also has slightly different projections on its leaves, which are more scalloped and less pointed that the projections on the Thanksgiving cactus. Is yours still not in flower and not in the holiday spirit? Both species require cool temperatures and longer nights for about a month in advance of their flowering period. Both plants bloom optimally when grown outdoors when cool night temperatures dip`into the 50s and shorter nights reduce daytime light to 10 -12 hours in a 24 hour cycle. They can also be grown indoors in pots if kept in a cool dark area with no light between 5 pm and 8 am. During daytime, they prefer bright, indirect light. Full sun can cause the leaf segments to turn dark red. Both species require good drainage but, even though they are in the cactus family don't let this fool you! They need adequate moisture - particularly during boom- and cannot make it through long, dry periods without supplemental water. Unlike most houseplants, they prefer to feel snug in their pots, almost to the point of enjoying being slightly pot-bound.
Happiest of holidays however you choose to safely celebrate them this year!
Welcome to another “New Normal!” Due to climate change resulting in hotter, drier conditions and reduced snowpack, the occurrence of a “fire season” which traditionally occurred from May through October is becoming a misnomer, with fire occurring throughout the year. The severity of what may lie ahead over the next several months was highlighted in a recent tweet posted by CAL FIRE: “Compared to last year, California has seen over 2,650 more fires and a nearly 2000% increase in the acres burned year-to-date (January 1 – September 7), across all jurisdictions.”
Indeed, Fall often hosts strong offshore winds that can quickly spread destructive fires, exacerbated by the impacts of climate change. What can you do to help ensure ‘defensible space' that increases the safety of your family, pets and property in fire-prone areas? First and foremost, select and properly maintain fire-resistant plants augmented with hardscapes and fire breaks extending from your home to at least one hundred feet outward. (This also helps ensure access to your home by firefighters and other first-line responders in the event of a fire or other life-threatening event.)
Vegetation chosen for your defensible space should have low flammability and can include trees and shrubs along with herbaceous plants. Allowing adequate space between woody plants is important to avoid a continuous fuel path (fuel ladder) where fire starting at ground level can climb to the top of a tree and spread from tree to tree.
1. Follow these ‘defensible space' guidelines to reduce the risk of fire spread and damage:
Zone 0 (first 5 feet from structures): avoid anything combustible including woody plants, mulch, woodpiles, trellises, and stacked items. Instead, add walkways and mulch and other hardscaping made from pebbles and rocks, pavers, rock mulch, or pea gravel. Include a 6-inch noncombustible area extending from the ground to the exterior siding of structures.
Zone 1 (5-30 feet from structures): Eliminate fire spread by ensuring adequate space between trees, removing lower branches. Consider adding irrigated groundcovers or mowed grass or hardscapes between these plant groupings, as well. Properly maintain plants and remove dead portions of plants.
Zone 2 (31-100+ feet from structure to the property line): Concentrate on reducing the density of plants to slow the spread of fire and to reduce the height of flames. Woody plants should be spaced (as illustrated below) to prevent fuel ladders.
Defensible Zones (source: National Fire Protection Association, nfpa.org)
2. Remember that even a so called “fire-resistant” species that is under-watered or otherwise poorly cared for can be highly combustible. The conditions under which the plant is grown influences its fire-resistance more than the species itself. However, plant species high in wax, oil, and resins such as conifers tend to be highly flammable while manzanita and ceanothus (California lilac) are less so.
3. Avoid planting or spreading invasive species. While invasive plants are never recommended in any landscape, they are especially problematic in natural areas prone to wildfire. Once established they can fuel fire as well as crowd out native vegetation and associated habitat. Refer to the California Invasive Plant Council website for more information and specific examples and plants to avoid (www.cal-ipc.org).
4. Follow recommended planting and pruning guidelines to prevent both horizontal and vertical spread from tree to tree. Horizontal spacing is directly related to the slope of the land and the height of the vegetation.
Photo above (courtesy of CAL FIRE) is a diagram to help you determine minimum horizontal clearance for tree and shrub placement to reduce fire risk.
Photo above (courtesy of CAL FIRE) shows a 5' shrub near a tree. In this example, 15' of clearance (3 x 5') is needed between the top of the shrub and the lowest tree branch to prevent a fire ladder.
5. While fire-resistant natives and adapted non-natives greatly reduce your chance of losing your home and property to wildfire, all plants will burn under favorable conditions. Ensure that plants receive adequate irrigation.
6. Rather than applying organic mulch near your home, use non-flammable materials such as stone and pebbles. Granite pathways are also suggested since they provide a fuel break. Firewood and propane tanks should also be kept away from your home.
CAL FIRE “Ready for Wildfire”: https://www.readyforwildfire.org/prepare-for-wildfire/get-ready/defensible-space/
Drill, S. et al. (2009), S.A.F.E Landscapes: Southern California Guidebook, UC Cooperative Extension: https://ucanr.edu/sites/SAFELandscapes/files/93415.pdf
UC ANR “Preparing Home Landscaping for Fire”: https://ucanr.edu/sites/fire/Prepare/Landscaping/
I hope all of you and your loved ones are staying well and healthy as the pandemic continues. Involving yourself in outdoor activities is not only a great way to escape 'cabin fever' and improve your physical health but it is also good for you psychologically, as well.
A silver lining for me over the past few months has been the opportunity to summarize results of some research studies including an update from a mulch trial that I'll report on virtually rather than live at the American Society for Horticultural Science conference (that was to be held in Orlando). I thought you might be interested in the results.
The objective of the research project was to measure the impacts of organic mulch treatments on the growth and health of four species of low maintenance, drought-tolerant landscape trees under deficit irrigation. Species selected were Parkinsonia x ‘Desert Museum' (it's thornless!); Chilopsis linearis ‘Bubba' (Desert Willow) (beautiful magenta flowers!), Pistacia ‘Red Push' (hybrid from P. atlantica and P. integerrima with brilliant orange fall foliage), and Prosopis glandulosa ‘Maverick' (thornless). Trees were planted in a randomized complete block experimental design in at the Chino Basin Water Conservation District (CBWCD) in Montclair in October, 2016. Half of the trees received 4” of organic mulch and half did not. Trees were transplanted from 15-gallon containers and irrigated with recycled water at 80 percent of reference evapotranspiration (ETo) the first 12 months.
Irrigation was reduced to 50% ETo in November, 2017 which was maintained until May 2020, when irrigation ceased. While the study continues through October 2020, there are some interesting early results. Organic mulch applications enhanced growth with no loss in quality in the Pistacia, Prosopis glandulosa, and Chilopsis linearis trees while growth was actually better in the Parkinsonia trees that did not receive mulch. This may be due to the fact that its trunk and branches actively photosynthesize as well as its leaves. Parkinsonia leaves also feature sunken guard cells, providing another form of drought avoidance. Furthermore, they develop deep root systems and may not need the added benefit of reduced soil evaporation in the top few inches of soil provided by the mulch. While all of the species selected have wonderful attributes, the Parkinsonia 'Desert Museum' has all the best traits of its palo verde heritage including having no thorns and a continues bloom throughout summer.
A huge thanks to our UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener team (led by Irene) who take data quarterly on the trees, recording trunk circumference at 6" and 3'. This is another great example of the breadth and depth of the contributions of our wonderful volunteers!
The four species of landscape trees in this study are part of a larger study at University of California, Riverside to determine the ability of 12 species of landscape trees to mitigate impacts of climate change. While I'll be long retired, growth and health data of all species will continue to be evaluated through at least 2035. The study at CBWCD provided the opportunity for a mulch/no mulch treatment for four of the most promising species which was space-limited at UCR.
Below are plot photos from October 2016 (right after planting), July 2020 (no irrigation for 3 months), a mature 'Desert Museum' tree in prolific bloom (photo credit to Dr. Bob Perry, Emeritus Professor, Cal Poly Pomona), and a mature Chilopsis linearis 'Bubba' from our UCR plot.
Save the date! We will be hosting a virtual UCR Field Day on September 3, 2020 featuring our drought-tolerant landscape plots at UC Riverside that was to be held live last May. More information is forthcoming but it will provide at least four hours of continuing education hours and a chance for you to ask questions of Dr's Amir Haghverdi, Don Merhaut and myself.
Have a wonderful August in your garden!