UC Master Gardener Program
UC Master Gardener Program
UC Master Gardener Program
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UC Master Gardener Program

Latest Statewide Master Gardener News

Happy Arbor Day!

Plant a Tree to Celebrate Arbor Day! Have you ever wondered how this national (and international) holiday got its roots? Arbor Day is an annual observance that promotes tree planting and care and reflects a hope for the future. As a formal holiday, it was first observed in 1872, in Nebraska.

Julius S. Morton Photo courtesy Nebraskahistory.org

In 1854, Julius Sterling Morton moved from Detroit to Nebraska City, Nebraska. Morton was a nature lover and felt that Nebraska's landscape and economy would benefit from the wide-scale planting of trees. He set an example himself planting orchards, shade trees and wind breaks on his own farm and urged neighbors to do the same.

Morton  became editor of Nebraska's first newspaper and used the paper to share agricultural information, ideas on environmental stewardship and his enthusiasm for trees to a receptive audience. He was ahead of his time as his own version of a master gardener!

In 1872, Morton presented the State Board of Agriculture a resolution “to set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit.” The Board declared April 10 Arbor Day. More than one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day. With this first tree planting holiday observance, J. Sterling Morton became known as the “Founder of Arbor Day.” Arbor Day did not become a legal holiday until 1885, when the legislature set aside Morton's birthday, April 22, as the holiday. 

Chinese pistache Photo by Pamela M. Geisel
Today, National Arbor Day is celebrated in all fifty states the last Friday in April but many states observe Arbor Day on different dates throughout the year based on best tree-planting times in their area. As a state, California celebrates Arbor Day Week March 7-14.

For more information on planting and caring for landscape or fruit trees visit the UC California Garden Web website.

To learn more about Arbor Day, visit the Arbor Day Foundation Website.       


Information and quotes cited in this blog can be found on Arbor Day Foundation & Arbor-day.net.


Posted on Friday, April 24, 2015 at 6:00 AM

Recognizing Volunteers for All They Contribute This Earth Day

UC Master Gardeners in the perennial garden at the “Garden of the Sun” in Fresno, Calif. Photo credit: Janet Cangemi, UCCE Master Gardener Program Fresno County

2015 marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, which is celebrated by more than 1 billion people worldwide. The national theme for this year's Earth Day is It's Our Turn to Lead, a phrase that directly describes the more than 6,000 UC Master Gardener volunteers actively leading in their local communities.

UC Master Gardener volunteer and coordinator answering questions at a local Farmer’s Market. Photo Credit: UCCE Master Gardener Program of San Joaquin County
UC Master Gardeners are passionate about conserving water, protecting the environment, managing pest, and most importantly love plants! Last year, UC Master Gardeners donated 385,260 volunteer hours to the program's mission of extending research-based home horticulture information to the public.

UC Master Gardeners are critical in supporting UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources' (UC ANR) strategic initiatives for healthy communities, healthy environments and healthy plants across the state of California.

“UC Master Gardener volunteers represent the most passionate and dedicated group of people I have encountered,”  said Missy Gable, statewide director of the UC Master Gardener Program, “they are enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge of research-based gardening information with the public and their commitment of time to this practice is both generous and inspiring.  UC Master Gardeners are an unbelievable resource for all residents in California and I want to recognize their efforts this Earth Day.  Volunteers are taking the lead to provide sound advice to CA gardeners as we all work to use water appropriately, connect to our food systems and protect our environment.”

Join us on Earth Day 2015!

Perhaps you've seen your local UC Master Gardeners answering questions at the Farmer's Market or you've read an article by a volunteer in your local paper.  If the 45th anniversary of Earth Day has inspired you to become more active with your environment, consider connecting with your local UC Master Gardener Program. 

Sample of UC Master Gardener Events Happening Across the State the Week of Earth Day:

UC Master Gardener volunteers receive University training in horticulture from experts in the field, mostly UC Cooperative Extension Advisors and Specialists.  In exchange for training, UC Master Gardener volunteers extend research-based information on sustainable home horticulture practices to the public. Whether you are looking to reduce your landscape water use, grow tomatoes or even become a UC Master Gardener yourself, volunteers are ready to help you.  Find a program or event near you!

Posted on Monday, April 20, 2015 at 8:58 AM

Tips for saving water in your landscape during drought

On April 1, 2015, following the lowest snowpack ever recorded and with no end to the drought in sight, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced actions that will make California more drought resilient. Photo credit: ca.gov/drought

Standing in the usually snow-packed Sierra Nevada Mountains, Gov. Jerry Brown called for a mandatory reduction of water use across California the beginning of this month. For the first time in the state a required water conservation action has been called, shedding light on the severity of California's drought conditions.

At the direction of Gov. Brown the State Water Resources Control Board will require local water districts to impose a 25 percent water restrictions on all resident's water use.

Green lawns may become a thing of the past in California, according to Gov. Brown. (Photo credit: Faith Kearns, UC California Institute for Water Resources)
“People should realize we are in a new era,” Brown said. “The idea of your nice little green grass that gets water every day, that's going to be a thing of the past.”

These new mandatory restrictions have left many home gardeners to wonder what this means for their home landscape.

Reducing Water Use in the Garden

According to The California Garden Web, an informational website about gardening hosted by the UC Master Gardener Program, water use in the home landscape can often be easily reduced by 20 to 40 percent because overwatering is a common mistake by homeowners. Slowly start to reduce water supplied to plants over the course of a few weeks, giving the plants time to adapt to the change.

It is important for residents to remember to not introduce new plants to your landscape during a severe drought. Even California native plants aren't drought-tolerant until they become well established. When water restrictions are lifted and new plants can be introduced, select drought-tolerant varieties appropriate for your climate zone. 

Planting in the fall as opposed to the spring allows plants to become established by winter rains. Residents should prioritize water use in their landscape, saving established trees and large shrubs first because they are typically more expensive to replace and require years to mature.

Understanding the water cycle of plants is useful for developing effective watering schedules and for recognizing and correcting signs of drought stress. (Fig 4.1 California Master Gardener Handbook)
The lawn should be given a low water priority. As Brown stated during his address, “nice little green grass that gets water every day, that's going to be a thing of the past.” The lawn is often underused and typically mismanaged with overwatering in the home landscape. Lawn can easily be reestablished over a short period of time, or replaced with ground covers, mulches or hardscapes. If saving a lawn is a must, remember to mow your lawn higher during very warm weather and only water at night between 9 pm and 6 am.

UC Master Gardener Program Offers Help

The UC Master Gardener Program has volunteers across the state, trained by University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), available to answer the public's questions about how to save established trees, plants and reduce water use in their yards.

Many of the program's 50 county-based locations offer free to the public hotline services, home irrigation analysis and workshops for the public that are aimed at helping California's residents reduce their water use. Contact a local UC Master Gardener Program for more water saving information and resources.

Trusted Resources

The new second edition of the California Master Gardener Handbook from the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) is a great resource for drought tips and home landscape water conservation methods. With an extensive chapter dedicated to water conservation methods, best practices for irrigation, plant selection, and tips for protecting water quality in urban landscapes.

Another great option is to use the irrigation worksheet for homeowners that was recently developed by Dr. Loren Oki, CE Specialist, Landscape Horticulture with UC ANR and UC Davis. The worksheet is designed to calculate an irrigation schedule for a landscape zone for one calendar year.


Posted on Tuesday, April 7, 2015 at 10:01 AM

Garden Sense Program Recognized for Saving Californians Millions of Gallons of Water


UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Master Gardeners of Sonoma County's Garden Sense project won first place in the community service category for the Search for Excellence awards at the 2015 International Master Gardener Conference (being held Sept. 2015)!  This incredible achievement acknowledges the outstanding contribution by the UCCE Master Gardeners of Sonoma County to their community. 

“Garden Sense is a wonderful example of partnership between UCCE Master Gardener volunteers and our local water agency.  A lot of hard work went into developing this innovative program by many volunteers.  Everyone involved feels like they're making a real impact in our community in the very important area of water conservation practices.”  - Mimi Enright, Program Coordinator

Trained UCCE Master Gardeners of Sonoma County consult local residents on efficient water practices for the home landscape.
UCCE Master Gardeners of Sonoma County partnered with the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) to deliver the program called Garden Sense.  Most home landscapes, which comprise the majority of home water use, have been created without any regard to our summer-dry climate, and the public is not aware of the water needs of commonly used landscape plants.  The Garden Sense program, initiated in September 2013, is available to all Sonoma County residents to help address this issue.

UCCE Master Gardeners of Sonoma County presently have 50 trained volunteer consultants who receive advanced training in lawn conversion, water management, irrigation systems, and low-water use plants.  By working together the UCCE Master Gardener Program and the Sonoma County Water Agency help to conserve precious water resources and protect our communities and environment through responsible gardening practices. 

Water savings as a result of the first year of Garden Sense consultations are estimated at an equivalent to six acre feet of water saved annually (nearly 2,000,000 gallons)!

For more information about saving water in your home landscape visit your local UC Master Gardener Program for event and workshop information. The newly revised UC ANR California Master Gardener Handbook has helpful information about water conservation and sustainable landscaping practices. 

Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 9:51 AM

How to Prune a Hybrid Tea Rose


Many home gardeners plant roses in their landscapes because they can be easy to grow and produce a wide variety of beautiful scented flowers. If you live in California and you haven't already pruned your hybrid tea roses, don't wait! Now is the time to get out and prune.

Roses are typically pruned before dormancy ends in late winter to early spring. In most parts of the state this typically runs from Dec. 15 – Feb 15. The amount of pruning needed depends on the type of rose you are pruning. If you have the most common home garden rose, the hybrid tea rose (3 – 5 feet tall with large, mostly single flowers) they require more extensive pruning. 

Watch this short video with Marcia Nelson, UC Master Gardener of Yolo County, and learn some simple tips about how to properly prune a hybrid tea rose for desired shape, growth and flower production.

According to the California Master Gardener Handbook, always remember to follow the fundamental pruning practices for all garden roses:

  • Remove broken or damaged canes
  • Remove rubbing or crossing canes
  • Remove spindly canes, those smaller than a lead pencil
  • Make clean cuts towards the outside of the plant at a 45° angle just above a bud or shoot
Posted on Monday, March 2, 2015 at 10:57 AM

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