UCCE Master Gardeners of San Bernardino County
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UCCE Master Gardeners of San Bernardino County

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Master Gardener Spotlight: Redlands Tree Canopy Enhancement Team

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

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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
 

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"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 

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It was rewarding to see local homeowners excited about planting trees and grateful for the program providing them. Gail Sefl

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THANK YOU ALL!   Janet Hartin and Maggie O'Neill

Posted on Monday, August 30, 2021 at 6:08 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment, Family, Health, Natural Resources, Pest Management, Yard & Garden

Synthetic turf, dark mulch and asphalt surfaces are superheating our inland cities

I've been interested in surface temperatures of various living and non-living surfaces in our inland Southern California cities with increasingly hot urban heat islands for some time. Results are in! Use of dark asphalt, synthetic turf,

and dark colored mulches are superheating our cities.  The hottest material of the three is synthetic turf which topped at over 165 degrees in Palm Springs and 159 in Redlands on days when the ambient air temperatures were, respectively, 113 and 108 degrees F this summer. In five of ten days I took data during July in Palm Springs, I was barely able to take a photo before my trusted I-phone shut down, leaving me with the ominous screen heat warning shown here.

What can you do?

Take care of your trees, shrubs, groundcovers, and lawns, which cool the environment substantially.  In the same experiment, the coolest scenario was the surface temperature of a lawn growing in the shade of a mature tree.  Remember that, through transpiration, living plants cool the environment while non-living surfaces do not.

If you're tired of your high maintenance lawn, think about alternative groundcovers that have similar effects (see suggestions below).  While cool season lawns like tall fescue and ryes are high water-requiring plants, warm season lawns like Bermuda, zoysia, and buffalograss are more drought-resistant.  Our studies have found that it's not the lawns and groundcovers that waste the water, it's the uneven coverage (low distribution uniformity) of most sprinkler systems, coupled with not applying the right amount of water at the right time. This holds true for even the most drought-resistant native and non-native groundcovers irrigated via sprinklers, as well.  

Plant drought-tolerant groundcovers

There are dozens of groundcover species that are both drought and heat-tolerant suitable for California gardens.

Here are just two examples: 

Creeping thyme (Thymus serpyhllum) They are both drought resistant and do well in the heat. Fragrant flowers add a special touch to a meandering path to a secret backyard garden (below left). 

Rosemary (Rosmarinus prostratus) Some rosemary species are low-growing groundcovers.  It is great for rock gardens, growing to only 6 inches tall.  It produces purple flowers in the summer and attracts pollinators and can be used for culinary purpose (below right). 

trees cool urban heat islands
trees cool urban heat islands

Posted on Friday, July 30, 2021 at 12:01 PM
Focus Area Tags: Family, Health, Natural Resources, Yard & Garden

Please Make a Tax-Deductible Donation to Support the UC San Bernardino Master Gardener Program

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation on Friday, June 4 ("Big Dig Day" or anytime!) to support the efforts of our 220 UC Cooperative Extension San Bernardino County Master Gardener volunteers.These highly trained, dedicated, and passionate volunteers help over 35,000 county residents each year grow food in home, school, and community gardens; cool urban heat islands through the proper selection and care of drought-efficient landscape plants; and, enhance their quality of life through participating in outdoor activities. Even during COVID, the Master Gardener volunteers provided education at more than 150 educational activities, adapting in-person training to online opportunities. These volunteers provide over $260,000 of services free each year!     

Options for 'on the spot' donating include making a one-time gift, a recurring (monthly gift) or cherishing the memory of a loved one through a tribute gift. 

Donating is convenient! Simply visit http://cesanbernardino.ucanr.edu/ and click on the blue "Make a Gift UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener/Horticulture Fund" bar through our secure network using a credit or debit card. Your gift will be immediately acknowledged for your records. Share your support for the UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener program on social media by including #BigDigDay and #giveback in your posts. 

Other ways to give: (information provided by Kelly Scott, major gifts officer, UC ANR)

There are a variety of planned gift options that will allow you to meet your philanthropic and financial goals.  You can make a significant impact by supporting the UC Master Gardener Program through your estate plans, for instance by making a bequest. Donors may also establish income-producing gifts such as charitable gift annuities or charitable remainder trusts, which benefit them during their lifetimes with up-front income tax savings and often at a higher return. (Please contact Kelly Scott at kdscott@ucanr.edu or (530) 750-1307 for more information on this option.)

Stock and Appreciated Securities

Avoid capital gains tax and claim a federal tax charitable deduction for the full appreciated value of long-term (held more than 1 year) securities (stocks, bonds, mutual fund shares). In order to qualify, gifts must be transferred directly from your brokerage account to the Regents of the University of California. (Please contact Kelly Scott at kdscott@ucanr.edu or (530) 750-1307 for more information on this option.)

 Real Estate/Personal Property

 Gifts of tangible property or other assets that represent value may offer you tax benefits while also enabling you to support our program. Examples include real estate, equipment, collections, and artwork. If you have a gift of this kind. (Please contact Kelly Scott at kdscott@ucanr.edu or (530) 750-1307 for more information on this option.)

 

Please help us spread the word and share this blog with others who have benefited from the help of a Master Gardener volunteer.

We hope you will join us on June 4!

Thank you in advance for your generosity. 

Posted on Saturday, May 29, 2021 at 5:04 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment

Trees Come First During the Drought!

During the drought, your trees should come first! Because many well-maintained trees don't reach their prime until their 4th or 5th decade, it's important to keep them watered during the drought and water restrictions. Older trees absorb higher levels of carbon dioxide, do a better job of cooling urban heat islands and providing shade. They also filter air and water pollutants, reduce soil and water erosion, provide habitat for wildlife, enhance privacy, beautify neighborhoods and parks, enhance property values, and even improve mental and emotional health. Trees are worth saving! The price of starting over is just too steep. 

Recognizing early signs of drought stress is important because irreversible damage can occur that no amount of watering will correct. If you cash in your grass for a water district rebate, remember to water any trees that relied on water from the lawn sprinklers. This is because tree roots grow laterally quite a distance, often well beyond the dripline of the tree under the lawn. Over time, start watering them more deeply and less often to encourage deeper roots and enhanced stability.

Just a few deep waterings in mornings or late evenings with a garden hose during spring and summer can keep a tree alive, even during a drought. Keep the trunk dry and water from the mid-dripline outward. Apply a slow steady stream of water, moving the hose to another section of the tree every 1-2 hours. Another inexpensive way to water your trees is to encircle them with soaker hoses that connect to a garden hose. The soaker hose should be in concentric rings about one foot apart starting two feet away from the trunk for a larger tree, closer for a more recently planted tree with a more confined root system.

Check trees regularly for these common symptoms of water stress:

• Wilting or drooping leaves that don't return to normal by evening

• Yellow, brown or sometimes gray leaves that may drop from the tree

• Small new foliage and stunted overall tree growth

Other ways to reduce tree water loss include:

• Keep weeds out (they compete for water

• Maintain a 3-4” of organic mulch or 2” layer of inorganic mulch (pebbles, decomposed gravel) around your trees, starting a few inches away from the trunk outward.

• Avoid fertilizing since that increases their water need.

• Do only necessary pruning (to remove dead wood and any dangerous limbs that look like they might fail) since this stresses the tree and can increase its water need.

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UC Resources at Your Fingertips:

Free Download Publications: https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu

-Keeping Plants Alive Under Drought and Water Restrictions

-Sustainable Landscaping in California

-Lawn Watering Guide for California

-Use of Graywater in CA Landscapes -

CA Institute for Water Resources: http://ciwr.ucanr.edu/ (blogs, climate-smart ag, podcasts, etc.)

UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program:

For more drought tips and help with your home gardening questions, contact a UCCE Master Gardener volunteer. Find your local program atucanr.edu/FindUs/ 

Palo Verde
Palo Verde

Palo Verde Tree in Spring

Posted on Monday, May 3, 2021 at 10:41 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment, Natural Resources, Yard & Garden

End of the Year Thank You!

As 2020 comes to a close, I'd like to express my deep appreciation and thanks to all of our UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener volunteers who have given the ‘gift of their time' to provide credible information to the gardening public. Even during COVID, they've found creative and safe means to continue reaching the public by converting face-to-face classes and workshops to online opportunities.They've gone above and beyond their expected volunteerism by helping those in need during these difficult times by working with our partners to distribute free seeds, trees, and wattles (for erosion control) and ensuring a happy holiday season for children and adults in need through a gift drive. Through COVID, the UCCE Master Gardeners have maintained their email and phone helplines to help county residents solve their gardening quandaries (linked here) mgsanber@ucanr.edu and (909)387-2182.

MG Bob Yocum and Crafton Hills College Gardeners

Master Gardener volunteers helped thousands of county residents landscape more sustainably, grow food in home, community, and school gardens, and deepen their appreciation of nature. They: 

  • Taught classes on drought-resistant landscapes and growing food in home, school, and community gardens
  • Hosted ‘Ask the Master Gardener' sessions
  • Provided education to community and school gardeners
  • Distributed gardening information and answered questions at Farmers' Markets, community fairs and other events
  • Answered home gardening questions via email and phone helplines
  • Shared gardening information through social media
  • Helped promote planting trees to cool urban heat islands in underserved neighborhoods and communities
  • Helped take research data on the 'trees for tomorrow' project
  • Published the monthly Master Gardener newsletter (thanks Phoebe, Debbie, Maggie, Robin, Sue and contributing authors!)

A special ‘shout out' to our monthly 2020 ‘Spotlight' Master Gardener volunteers for their extraordinary service:

I'd also like to recognize our dozens of non-profit partners including Inland Empire Resource Conservation District and the County of San Bernardino. 

And, last but far from least, I'm forever thankful to UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener Coordinator Maggie O'Neill whose passion, heart, and expertise keeps the program thriving!

 

 

Happy Holidays to All! 

MG citizen scientists
MG citizen scientists

Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2020 at 12:55 PM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

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