Garden Clippings


McMinnville Garden Club,   PO Box 386, McMinnville, OR       December 2011    503-434-4344


December 19, 2011 – MEETING and LUNCHEON

$15 payment/reservation needs to be to Mike by DECEMBER 12th

Please join us for this special event!

Hillside Retirement Community “Activity Room” at the Manor

900 N. Hill Road McMinnville, OR  97128


9:30a.m. - 10:00a.m.  - Social time

10:00a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Business Meeting/Holiday Fun/

Including an 11:30a.m.luncheon, catered by Hillside

Ready for a journey to a bright, holiday-decorated garden?  Love to work in teams to figure out plant names?  Like to sing or listen to others sing?  Want ideas for memorable holiday traditions?  These and many other festivities will fill our December meeting.  Invite a friend, dress in holiday style, and enjoy!


Mark Your Calendars:

Dec 12        Board Meeting, Patty’s

Dec 19        Club Meeting, holiday luncheon, and FUN!

Dec              NO Field Trip, nor Arts & Crafts scheduled, Happy Holidays!

2012           HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Jan 09        Board Meeting

Jan 16        Club Meeting; Norm Jacobs, Arbustus Garden Arts, “Conifers in the Garden”

Jan             NO Field Trip, nor Arts & Crafts scheduled, due to weather


President’s Message                                   Merle Dean Feldman

Thanks to all of you that help to make our meeting time such a highlight of the month.   Our special honoree at the November meeting was June Benson.  Thank you, June, for the many ways that you help us make our club the best!  And thanks to all of you that contribute so generously to our raffles in remembrance of our theme “Every Garden is a Gift.”   Sharing with each other makes everything we do to produce our gifts so worthwhile.


As the holidays come we now shift to decorate our homes instead of our gardens.  However, it is difficult to concentrate on the inside when so many new seed catalogs keep arriving each day.  Is your wish list of new plants getting as long as mine?  I am still in denial that winter is almost here.  There are still so many fall jobs to do, plants to divide, and bulbs to plant.  So I just keep trudging along acting as if I have plenty more time.  How was your gardening year?  We will designate time to hear your comments at the December holiday luncheon/meeting.  I am excited about it and I truly hope all of you can attend.  Cozzette and her fashionistas have already planned the room and table décor.  We also received this hand-crafted bench donated by June and Joe Burgess (THANK YOU!) to raffle off at $1 per ticket.  It would make a great gift for a buck!


Our amazing Rakettes showed up in force decked out in the season’s wildest hats with decorated rakes to participate in the annual Santa’s Parade in downtown McMinnville. Julie Hughes arrived in a bird costume which put us in a festive mood to enjoy a spectacular autumn day.  Julie and Norma Parker led the choreographed march with Mike and Gaye Stewart proudly displaying the MGC banner.  The high steppers strutted, while Chuck Wilkerson cruised in his bedazzled truck past a cheering crowd.  Those of us, who are not dancers, gladly handed out birdseed packets, and again, we ran out!  Special thanks to Chuck and his truck, Buchanan Cellars for the donated seed, and all of you that made this a fun event.










Over twenty members participated in our annual holiday wreath and winter hanging basket workshop in Merle Dean’s greenhouse.  The two day event on Nov. 28-29, gathered a crowd of treat-bearing artisans.  We were warmed by Merle Dean’s hospitality and delicious fare.  Thanks to all who brought snacks and loads of greens to share: “Every Garden Is a Gift!


“The ultimate expression of generosity is not in giving of what you have, but in giving of who you are.”  At our November meeting, we collected and Cozette delivered 13 full grocery sacks of food for the YCAP Food Bank!


Season of Giving:  We will support Henderson House for our “Season of Giving” event at our December meeting.  Their pantry is critically low due to the increased number of shelter clients and decreased funding.   The shelter can buy food from the Oregon Food Bank (cheaper than the grocery and by the pound), however sugar* & coffee* are typically unavailable.  Henderson House staffers transport clients to Wal-Mart and supervise ordering prescription and other purchases.


Please bring, to the December meeting, any of these items or gift certificates needed for the Henderson House shelter: *Sugar, flour, *coffee, peanut butter, oatmeal, cereal, gelatin, canned fruit, fruit juices, pasta and sauce, powdered milk, instant potatoes, canned and boxed foods and mixes for hamburger, condiments, adhesive bandages, pain relievers, cough, cold, and flu meds and syrups for babies, children, and adults, deodorant, toilet paper, paper towels, NEW ladies socks & underwear, Wal-Mart gift cards with dollar amount marked on the card (helps clients afford prescriptions).  Gift cards from local grocery stores are useful to purchase perishable items.


Horticulture:  Organic Fruit Tree Care                       by Sally Brown

In December the most important thing to do with your fruit trees is to spray with a lime sulfur/horticultural oil mixture.  Spray, following the directions on the products, to eliminate many pest and disease problems of a home orchard. Unfortunately, finding a dry day when the temperature is not very cold is tricky.  A few hours without rain are necessary for the oil spray to dry on the tree surfaces.  A few follow-up sprays, a month apart, really add to the preventative effect.  Vern Nelson had a very good article in the Homes and Gardens section of the Oregonian on Nov. 17th.  He starts out stating that winter pruning is often hard on the tree and causes more work later.  Here is a summary of his fruit tree pruning tips:

 Mistakes Too Commonly Made:

1.      Leaving the trees too dense. Understand the difference between making thinning cuts and heading cuts. One shortens the branches, the other opens the tree up on the inside by cutting a branch off at the base. This is necessary for good air and light penetration.

2.     Leaving unproductive branches that are below horizontal, ones that slant downward.

3.     Leaving most of your pruning for summer when wounds heal faster and new fruiting wood is encouraged.

4.      Neglecting to prune every year. Guiding growth when it is still small and pointed in the right direction saves more and bigger cuts later.

5.     Not leaving access to the inside of the tree. This means that you leave four or five major scaffold limbs with enough space between to get in close and work. Even small, dwarf trees need access to the interior to be maintained properly.

6.     Leaving suckers. The tall, straight, vertical shoots are poor producers and look bad.

Failing to cut down a tree when necessary. When a tree is too big, too old to produce much, or is diseased it is time to call someone and have it taken down.


Wildlife Habitat: Canadian Geese                               by June Benson

I have never seen one in my garden but hundreds (thousands?) must live in or near McMinnville. Sometimes I see a few in fields next to Hill Road or next to 99W as I head to Portland. Often they fly over my neighborhood. As they fly over my deck, I can hear their squawking and wings flapping, and, if they are flying low, I can see their skinny legs hanging straight below their bodies.  They are a rowdy bunch!


You, too, have probably seen large flocks of Canadian Geese flying in a V formation over McMinnville. Scientists believe that geese do this because it makes it easier for them to fly. The lead bird breaks the air and creates an updraft, which reduces air resistance for the rest of the flock. By flying in this position, geese can use 50-75% less energy. It is assumed that older, more experienced birds lead the flock.  The lead bird changes to prevent exhaustion.       

There are many subspecies of Canadian Geese, and the four smallest forms are now considered to be a separate species called the Cackling Goose.  Geese live in a great many habitats: near water, grassy fields, and grain fields. The geese are especially drawn to large, manicured lawns. Many consider Canadian Geese a nuisance and airports consider them a hazard. Early this year thousands of geese invaded a Salem golf course.


In general, migratory populations of Canadian Geese are not going as far south in the winter as they used to and some do not migrate at all. There are seven subspecies of wintering Canadian Geese in NW Oregon and wildlife officials say that nowhere else in the United States are there so many subspecies mixed together on wintering grounds. Since some are in decline, only some can be hunted, so Oregon hunters must pass a test of their ability to differentiate between subspecies in order to obtain a hunting license. In the 1960’s three national wildlife refuges in the Willamette Valley were established to provide a wintering habitat for Dusky Canadian Geese. All three are within easy driving distance of McMinnville: Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge (near Jefferson) Baskett Slough (near Dallas), and William L. Finley (south of Corvallis). Unlike other geese, duskies have limited summer and winter ranges and were in serious decline. They nest on Alaska’s Cooper River Delta and winter almost exclusively in the Willamette Valley. The refuges are undisturbed areas that provide protection, food, and water, so the geese survive in the fall and winter to make the trek back to Alaska in the spring. Under agreements with local farmers, fields are planted with grasses preferred by the geese.  In November 2009, Baskett Slough counted 23,000 geese in a single “fly-off.” Photo blinds are available year-round, but during the winter, reservations are required. More information is available online at or call 541-757-7236.


Meet Norma Parker                         by Roving Reporter, Rosemary Vertregt

You’ve probably already met Norma if you’ve been a member for a while, as she has a friendly, active way about her. Norma is a fairly new member, but she has written the Horticulture column for our newsletter, and she just finished leading our “Rakettes” as we marched along Third Street in the Santa Parade! Norma was raised on a farm in Dayton (Oregon, of course), where her family, the Blanchards, had large fruit orchards. Some of you McMinnville natives or semi-natives may recognize the name “Blanchard-Wirfs Orchards” --- the “Wirfs” name comes from Norma’s grandmother’s family. Something else long-time Oregonians will remember is the “Columbus Day Storm” in 1962. It flattened the orchards, and before long “wine pioneer” David Lett planted grapes on that land; part of it is now Sokol-Blosser vineyards.

After graduating from Dayton High, Norma attended Linfield, where she participated in girls’ hockey and softball. Norma also sang in Linfield Master Chorus and in smaller groups. She also met her future husband, Elmer--another McMinnville native. Elmer’s family had originally come to Oregon in the Buell wagon train in 1843, and he has spent most of his life in forestry. He and Norma have enjoyed traveling to fourteen European countries, and their most recent trip was to Australia and New Zealand. They have two children, a daughter who is a CPA and lives in Utah, and a son in Maryland, who has a PHD in physics. They also have 10 grand-children.

As a retired Language Arts teacher, (13 years at Dayton High) Norma is a member of two book clubs; another favorite activity is playing pinochle with her 97 year-old mother every week. Gardening, of course, is another favorite, but she says what she likes best to grow is “whatever the deer won’t eat”! Fortunately, deer don’t eat Koi (do they??), so she can enjoy watching them in her peaceful pond. And, as for the fact that there is a big red fire engine in her backyard, you’ll have to ask Norma: “What’s up with that??”


Web Links to Explore:

Mike Darcy podcasts (radio).  Scroll down for the list of shows and archives.

Scroll down to Horticulture Radio then click on the title of the episode you would like to listen to.


Stop by the Public Library

 to visit our

Garden Club Santa!