Garden Clippings

McMinnville Garden Club, PO Box 386, McMinnville, OR  97128   

                 February 2012     503-434-4344

Monday, February20, 2012 – MEETING

Hillside Retirement Community “Activity Room” at the Manor

900 N. Hill Road McMinnville, OR  97128


9:30a.m. - 10:00a.m.  - Social time

10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. - Business Meeting

11:00 – 12:00   Truls Jenson and Emma Elliott of Wild Ginger Farm

“Success with Rock Garden and Alpine Plants  1 MG ed credit


President’s Message

Winter is such a good time to see the “bones” of your garden.  One can visit each tree, enjoy the wonderful bark and study the form to determine where pruning cuts need to be made.  This is difficult when all of the leaves are on.  Wintertime provides the best view of the berries clinging for dear life to the bushes and provides the viewer that wonderful glimpse of color in an otherwise landscape of green and brown (that is if the birds have left any behind). 

As we wait for the conclusion of winter and seed catalogs consume our time, it is also a great time to read books.  I have been enjoying Diane Ackerman’s book of essays, Cultivating Delight.  Let me share a description of the winter garden from her book.  “It doesn’t help that a newly frosted garden looks as if someone took a blowtorch to all the flowers.  I try to make the best of it, to find pleasure hidden somewhere among the leavings.  In winter, I search the garden for eye-catching phenomena, scraps of life, or remains that tell a story, but the experience of beauty is different in winter than it is in summer, just as reading a book is different from watching a movie.”

          Other good books you might enjoy from my list include:  Heucheras and Heucherellas by Dan Heims; The Earth Moved : On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms by Amy Stewart;  Teaming with Microcrobes:  A Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web by Jeff Lowenfels ;  Garden Your Way to Health and Fitness by Bunny Guinness;  and Plant by Janet Marinelli.  There are several websites where you can purchase used books at very low prices. May you all have a wonderful winter season by the fireside dreaming with your books and catalogs!

Mark Your Calendars:

February 9-11                Native Plant Sale: Yamhill Soil, Water, and Conservation District,  McMinnville.  Pre order by Feb. 3.  Visit them online

           at For order help, call 503-472-6403.


February 20, Monday      Club Meeting, Speakers: Truls Jenson & Emma Elliott, Wild

                                           Ginger Farm, “Success with Rock Garden & Alpine Plants”


February 23, Thursday    Field Trip:  None scheduled


February 27, Monday  Arts and Crafts:  Tea Cups 10AM, Doris Crain’s garage.  Bring a small salad or dessert.

ü       Bring to the  FEBRUARY 20th meeting:

PORCELAIN tea cups, saucers, and vases so Doris’ husband can pre-drill necessary holes that will allow the set to be fitted onto a rebar rod. The cost will be under $1 for the rebar rod.  Ours will look similar to the photo on the left, with a vase under the saucer for added color.


March 19, Monday:  Speaker:  Patty Sorensen, “Birds in Your Yard; ID, Behavior, and Food

                                     Sources  Bring your bird books and binoculars if you have any.


March 26, Monday:  from 1-3 PM, Doris Crain’s garage. (AFTERNOON activity!)

Time to start cleaning your cupboards or heading to garage sales and thrift stores!  For our March A&C activity, we will be creating birdbaths made from a variety of ceramics. I started my search by finding the top bird bath section first and matched other pieces to it.  Below you will see three different ones to give you ideas.  Note that in the middle picture, the bottom yellow plate and blue planter will be buried below ground level to give some stability to the tower.  From experience, I have found that there is only one glue that works for this type of outdoor bath.  We will provide that glue for $1 per bird bath.  In order to have enough glue, we need to know who is going to attend this event.  Be sure to either sign up at the March meeting or call Doris.  We’ll have a sample at the February meeting for you to see.


Horticulture: Winter Protection for Plants                     by Cindy Flake

The starting point of winter protection for plants is to choose plants that are cold hardy to the temperature zone where you grow them.  The USDA created a Zone map that associates a specific number with average minimum temperature ranges in 5° increments. It is organized from north to south with zone 1 being the coldest and 11 the warmest.  Oregon’s topography extremes contribute to different climates, known as microclimates.  Higher elevation gardens can experience cooler temperatures.  For example, it can be 10° cooler on High Heaven Road at 1500 feet elevation, than in the heart of McMinnville.  In Yamhill County, we tend to experience our most plant damaging cold point during a week in mid-April, although cold snaps may occur at any time during the winter.  Additionally, the hardiness zones for many plants, such as Fuchsias, vary by species.  Our plants will live or die by our consideration of these factors!  Because of the various microclimates, the Sunset Western Garden Book has its own set of hardiness zones.  Most professional plant propagators list the temperatures and USDA cold hardiness zones on their care and maintenance tags.  However, I’ve seen tags with conflicting zone and temperature information!  The best way to select a plant is to rely on the cold hardy temperature rating (how low does it go?) for that plant, instead of a zone number.

Well drained soil is also paramount to winter protection, as perpetually soggy soil can cause roots to rot.  Potted plants can be grouped together along a protected (north) side of the house during winter.  Plants that are rated for warmer temperatures should be grown in pots and moved to protected areas (garage or shed) or mulched and provided a cover if in-ground.


Wildlife Habitat: C IS FOR CUTE!                                                     by June Benson

A Black-capped Chickadee is sometimes watching me as I approach the Dogwood tree. I stop. He watches me for a few minutes. He only flies away when I reach in to grab the tube feeder. Apparently these birds are curious about everything, including humans. Some sources say they can be easily tamed and hand fed.

The chickadee is so cute! The Black-capped Chickadee has an oversized round head, short neck, and tiny round body. It is distinctive with its black cap and bib and white cheeks. The back is gray edged with white. This bird is a common year-round resident west of the Cascades.  (There is a Chestnut-backed Chickadee who has a similar black cap and bib, but I have not seen this one in McMinnville. Have you?)

You probably see Chickadees regularly at your feeder now although they don’t like to stay long. They usually grab a seed and eat elsewhere or they hide the seed to eat later. Scientists say the chickadee can remember thousands of hiding places. Chickadees enjoy suet, black-oiled sunflower seed, and peanuts. Of course, they are also looking for food in tree bark as well as on the ground.  They don’t mind using tiny hanging feeders that swing in the wind and are willing to visit window feeders. How can such a tiny bird break into a hard sunflower seed shell? They peck a hole in it, chip it out, and eat bits of seed, while expanding the hole.

Chickadees are almost acrobatic and associate in flocks. When a flock arrives, they often fly across roads and open areas one at a time, a rather distinctive behavior. Flocks have many calls with specific meanings, communicating information on identity and recognition of other flocks as well as predator alarms. For example, the more dee notes in a chickadee-dee-dee call, the higher the threat level. During the winter other species associate with chickadee flocks and respond to chickadee alarm calls, even when their own species doesn’t have a similar alarm call.


Garden Tour Update by Judy Wilkerson and Elsie Carpenter, Garden Tour Coordinators

We are thrilled that all 2012 Garden Tour Committee Leader positions are filled, and with a great roster of folks.  We know that by working together and with all club members’ help, we can achieve another successful fund-raising event.  The first Committee Leader Meeting is February 20th, following our regular club meeting, in the “Activity Room” (same room as club meetings).  Leaders: Please bring your notebooks and any questions/concerns you may have.  JOB DESCRIPTIONS  Check these out to see which ones you can volunteer for!


Garden Faire Update          by Mike & Gaye Stewart, Garden Faire Co-Chairs

June 24th seems so far away, but we have already received registrations from 15 of 113 potential vendors.  Our club’s goals are 50+ vendors with net proceeds from the Garden Faire of $5,000.   The challenge each year is to keep our vendors and our loyal customers coming back for more.

Our vendors appreciate the professional way the Faire is conducted and the friendly spirit of Garden Club members who rally to help them get set up for a day of great expectations.  They are encouraged and challenged by the competition from fellow vendors and they love to be around “real gardeners” who are looking for “just the right plant,” new garden ideas, or perhaps a bit of whimsy to brighten their yard.  The delightful charm of being in historic downtown McMinnville is also an important ingredient in this successful recipe.    

As club members, you will be presented with lots of options for helping with the Garden Tour and Garden Faire.  Your active participation is vital to our fundraising success and we promise you won’t “go wrong” no matter what assignment(s) you accept.  If you already know the assignment you would like to volunteer for, now is the time to sign up to join in the fun!


Meet Doris Crain                           by Roving Reporter, Rosemary Vertregt

Doris is one of our newer members, but she has chosen to get right in and join the fun!  She is already serving as co-chair of our Arts & Crafts Committee with Patty Sorensen.  But the real story starts in Philadelphia, PA, where Doris was born to hardworking Italian parents.  Her grandfather had come to America in 1910 with $20 in his pocket. Her father worked painting houses and then in the shipyards, but they all grew weary with east coast winters.  Move choices were California or Florida and cousins in southern California convinced the family that a move to the "West was Best!”  In California, Doris's Grandfather worked at a large estate, managing buildings and rental properties and caring for the extensive gardens.  He loved taking long walks in the area, and soon met another Italian family. Doris often visited them as a young girl.  Little did she know that they were the great-grandparents of her future husband!

 Doris graduated from St. Anthony Girls High School, and attended Compton College.  While serving punch at her boss's wedding reception, Doris met a nice young man who turned out to be?  You guessed it, Michael Crain!  He hadn't wanted to come to his uncle's wedding, except for his Nana’s meatballs!  Doris says that it was love at first sight--or as Italians say, "The Thunderbolt!"  They chatted, they dated, and they married.  Michael opened his own dental lab, while the couple raised two sons, Brian and Andrew, in Newbury Park.  Doris worked for a hospital, Mobil Oil, TRW, and finally, 22 years at Conejo Valley Unified School District.

Michael and Doris are in McMinnville, since their son Brian, along with his wife and two children, Michael Jr. 10 and Julia, 6, are here.  Brian is the principal at Wascher School, while Andrew is married and working on his doctorate in stem cell research at UC, San Diego.

After Michael and Doris arrived here, they couldn't find a house.  So, they rented for a year, planned, designed, and then built their own---really!  Doris is a watercolor artist and volunteers at St. Vincent de Paul.  She loves Italian cooking, gardening and reading. What she wants from Garden Club is to learn.  When asked what specifically, she answers: "EVERYTHING!"


Web links:

Yard, Garden and Patio Show 2012  

Poisonous Plants

Sharpening Your Tools!

Seeds Starting Timetable  (scroll down to view it)


The color of springtime is in the flowers, the color of winter is in the imagination.  ~Terri Guillemets