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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Dec 07

From the Heart

Posted on December 7, 2018 at 3:32 PM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

gone fishing
Charlene fishing on the Trinity River
Friends and family know I am all about the heart. We’re all familiar with the shape on the Valentine’s card, but the garden might be a better representation of the heart—the core, the tenderness and those areas that shine forth. The heart gives all without condition, much like our fruiting trees, flowering plants and veggies. 

We, as passionate gardeners, often give from the heart. We gladly share our wisdom with each other, swap our favorite seeds with other gardeners, and share the bounty brought forth from our efforts. We find joy in our creative passions and in doing the right thing for the health of the grounds we steward. The reward for our efforts is seeing a beautiful garden flourish, or a struggling plant revive after proper care and burst forth into bloom as if giving from its heart.

There are those moments when the heart experiences wind shifts, ahead of some type of change. Sometimes shifting winds brings in welcoming warm tropical air from the west. Other times we can expect to hunker down as a Nor’eastern wind can and will play havoc in the hearts of our gardens. The cold can harm the delicate plants, the wind can tear trees out of the ground, and flooding and erosion can carry away the nutrients and top soil we’ve painstakingly worked at developing. We, as gardeners, know we can and will ride out those storms, and oft times it means recreating the space with a new, improved vision. If nothing else, gardening teaches us about change! 

Outside of our gardens, too, in our daily lives one thing gives way to another. With this post, we’re bringing to a close the weekly blog that has accompanied the Weekly Watering Schedule over the last many years. The Watering Schedule itself will return in the spring, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, as good gardeners, please suspend irrigation during the winter months (unless you have plants housed under roofing that require some water). 

Again, it is with heart that I must thank each and every one of you, the readers, for sharing your wealth of information with me these past 17 years, for allowing me to share my passion and knowledge with you, for your entrusting questions regarding your gardens and your kind words that filled my heart. I also want to thank those friends and family who graciously shared their talented gifts of photography over the years as seen in these blog posts.

It is that festive time of year, and I would be remiss if I didn’t wish you all a very happy and prosperous holiday season. Keep blooming where you are planted. 

In parting, I will share my personal email address for those who would like to stay in touch, and end this blog with an expression a very dear cowboy friend always says as we part: “I’ll turn ya loose for now.”


Charlene Burgi

Nov 30

Winter Gardens

Posted on November 30, 2018 at 9:17 AM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

winter gardens
Top to bottom: Goldfinches on nyjer socks, burning bush (Euonymus alatus), and Helleborus
Landscape design requires giving thought to a well-balanced garden comprised of year-round interest. Three of our four seasons are easier to consider in terms of garden use. But let’s face it, winter gardens are a challenge compared to the draw of any other time of the year.

Spring, summer and autumn harbor many plants to entertain our eyes as they dance over the splendor found within. Spring and summer beds are full of flowering bulbs, fruiting trees covered in white and pink blossoms, or emerging perennial flowers waking from a long winter’s nap. 

Even the heat of summer is no exception as the sages, lavenders and other pastel-shaded flowers seem to reduce the temperatures not only with their color but as their fragrant oils fill the air we breathe. Pathways are oft times lined with groundcovers drawing us forward to explore beyond our first view of the garden. And what better time to follow those paths than warm evenings of summer.

Even the cooler autumn days are not a disappointment. Leaves of interest decorate shrubs and trees. Many of those leaves provide a spectacular display as they drop the chlorophyll to reveal their gorgeous and vibrant reds, yellows and oranges normally hidden beneath the green. 

Winter gardens are a different animal. It is cold and wet out there. Plants are dormant. Leaves have fallen. The days of barbequing for a party of 20 or two are put on hold until warmer weather. Gardening is reduced to chores such as pruning, cleaning fallen diseased leaves and winter spraying. 

Given the dreary conditions, what can be done to increase our pleasure in the winter garden? It definitely requires more thought to create interest in winter. Don’t overlook drawing inspiration from nature. Sometimes creating interest can be as simple as hanging nyjer seed in mesh socks to attract the intense yellow goldfinch into our yards. Perhaps a well-placed bird bath will encourage birds to visit for a quick dip. And garden art with movement is always a source of interest. 

Also consider plants that thrive in winter. Helleborus is an elegant addition to the winter garden. Sasanqua camellias can be introduced for blotches of color. Cyclamen can encircle that well-placed bird bath for a show of red, pink or white blooms through May. Plants can be added to provide colorful berries. Trees and shrubs such as some of the Japanese maples or dogwoods known for their interesting, colorful barks will also attract the eye. I would be remiss if I didn’t suggest one of my favorite garden fragrances: Daphne odora is a dead-of-winter bloomer. This low-water-using shrub thrives on neglect—just be certain it has good drainage. 

Winter gardens don’t need to be dreary. It will take a little thought and some eye-catching placement from the windows of your home to make it work. Meanwhile, pour a favorite warm beverage and use your imagination!
Nov 28

Lagunitas Creek Spawner Update: 11/28/18

Posted on November 28, 2018 at 4:16 PM by Emma Detwiler

This is the first Lagunitas Creek Spawner Update of the 2018-19 season and a lot of salmon spawning has already happened.

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