UC Master Gardener Program
UC Master Gardener Program
UC Master Gardener Program
University of California
UC Master Gardener Program

Latest Statewide Master Gardener News

Volunteers Donated 398,150 Hours Last Year ... and More Reappointment Stats!

Reappointment is complete and the statewide office is excited to share reappointment stats for the UC Master Gardener Program.

During fiscal year 2014 –15 the UC Master Gardener Program had 6,055 active volunteers who were dedicated to extending UC research-based home horticulture information to the public. 

County-based programs range in size from 13 to 315 volunteers - but the one thing they all have in common is their passion for horticulture, the desire to learn and willingness to share their knowledge with local communities!  

From July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015 UC Master Gardener volunteers donated 398,150 volunteer hours and more than 4.6 million volunteer hours have been donated since the program's inception.

If we want to think about this monetarily (and who doesn't?!), the value of this time to UC ANR comes in at more than $10.7 million that's equivalent to 191 full time employees!

Volunteering for their communities is not the only way UC Master Gardeners spend their time. Last year 88,300 continuing education hours were logged as UC Master Gardeners worked to keep themselves informed about new or advanced horticultural topics and trends.

A sincere thank you to our incredible group of volunteers, for sharing your passion and valuable time to the UC Master Gardener Program!

Posted on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 9:39 AM

UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County Host Grand Opening of Sherwood Demonstration Garden

Last-minute preparations are currently ongoing for the grand opening of Sherwood Demonstration Garden, the crown jewel of the UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County.  This event will be held on Saturday, Oct. 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., so mark your calendars.  There is no entrance fee, parking is free and the garden is open to all. The location is behind the El Dorado Center of Folsom Lake College on Campus Drive in Placerville. 

The impressive demonstration garden was the brainchild of Bob Sherwood, a long-time UCCE Master Gardener volunteer, who envisioned a place for the public to learn about research-based home gardening techniques and practices with outdoor classes and hands-on demonstrations. Bob spent countless hours searching our county for just the right location and in 2009, in cooperation with the El Dorado County Office of Education and Folsom Lake College, El Dorado Center, broke ground on what is now the Sherwood Demonstration Garden.  Bob passed away unexpectedly last fall before realizing his dream of a garden open to the public. The UCCE Master Gardener Program pledged to honor his legacy by continuing to work towards a grand opening as soon as possible. It took a little over a year for project completion, but the UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County are proud to announce the opening of its new demonstration garden this weekend.

On Saturday visitors will have the opportunity to tour all 16 themed garden, including:  All Stars, Bog, Butterfly, Children's, Cottage, Japanese, Mediterranean, Orchard, Ornamental Grasses, Native, Perennial, Rock, Rose, Shade, Succulent and Vegetable. 

UCCE Master Gardener volunteers will be onsite and available in each garden to answer questions and explain how and why a particular garden was planted, what kind of irrigation is used in each, facts about specific plants chosen, pest management practices, and more. A very limited quantity of plants will be available for sale (no credit cards; cash or checks only) and there will be treasure hunt prizes. Free refreshments will also be available. 

UCCE Master Gardeners are very excited to showcase this garden and we hope to see many of you present on Oct 3.  It's going to be fun! For more information about this garden go to the UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County website at http://ucanr.edu/edmg



Do you have a garden or event you would like featured on the statewide UC Master Gardener Program blog? E-mail: mgwomack@ucanr.edu


Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 at 1:21 PM
  • Author: Sue McDavid

Garden Gold: Changing Waste Into Resource

Compost is a great way to recycle organic matter back into your garden
This time of year finds us cleaning up the garden and throwing away the trimmings without ceremony or thought. This predilection we humans have of creating waste and then wanting it to “going away” has had dire consequences for our planet. Everything comes from and goes somewhere; the trick is to use this fact to our advantage.

Defining waste is tricky, but you could think of it the same way as weeds, which are basically plants where you don't want them; like weed management, reducing garden waste comes down to re-thinking and altering your cultural practices:

Plan ahead: Shopping at a nursery without a plan is like going to the grocery store hungry; impulse buys are inevitable! Measure your space, research climate-appropriate plants, and call nurseries for availability. Try to favor evergreen (non-deciduous) species, limit herbaceous perennials and annuals, and provide all plants adequate space for their natural size and shape. Constant shearing is a waste of time, and planting too densely often means you are tearing out plants within a couple of years, a waste of the water and other resources that went into growing those plants.

Irrigate and fertilize appropriately to avoid the feedback loop of wasteful inputs: too much water and high N-P-K fertilizers create lush growth, which is more attractive to pests, requiring herbicides and more irrigation to keep up with all that growth. Potent fertilizers often leach below the root zone or out of the soil via irrigation run-off, polluting rivers and groundwater, and wasting your money. Organic fertilizers with low N-P-K numbers provide a slow release of nutrients, which can be taken up more effectively by soil microbes and plants.

Composting is the best way to recycle myriad forms of plant matter, both from your yard and the kitchen, into a source of bio-available nutrients. Compost also helps improve soil structure (a definite plus for those of plagued with adobe) and increases the biodiversity of your soil, a way of protecting your plants from pathogens.

Grasscycling: Recycling grass clippings by leaving them on the lawn reduces fertilizer needs by 20% and returns valuable organic matter to the soil. It's easier on your back, too! Problems associated with grasscycling often result from improper practices; see the resource section below for help.

Avoid invasive species: Some plants have aggressive growth and produce a lot of waste when they need trimming. Examples of invasive species include English ivy and Vinca major. Some invasives can re-root in a compost bin, so they end up in the landfill. for examples of invasive plants and alternatives, see the California Invasive Plant Council (Cal IPC) website.

Fertilizing:   sjmastergardeners.ucdavis.edu/files/154369.pdf
Composting and Grasscycling:   sjmastergardeners.ucanr.edu/Composting_/
Cal IPC:  www.cal-ipc.org/landscaping/dpp/

Posted on Monday, August 10, 2015 at 5:10 AM
  • Author: Nadia Zane

What Do You Know About Neonics?

What do you know about neonicotinoids, aka neonics?

A worker bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

An educational opportunity to learn more about them--the truths and the myths--will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 9 at the University of Caifornia, Davis, and you're invited. It's open to the public.

The conference, themed “Truth or Myth: Neonicotinoids and Their Impact on Pollinators: What Is the Science-Based Research?” will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the UC Davis Conference Center, 550 Alumni Lane.

UC Davis researchers and state officials will address the crowd, announced conference coordinator Dave Fujino, director of the UC Davis-based California Center for Urban Horticulture.

“We are pleased to have such a knowledgeable lineup of UC Davis researchers who will clarify the issue of impact of neonicotinoid impacts on pollinators by summarizing and presenting the past and current science-based research,” Fujino said. “We are also fortunate to have additional presentations on the regulation guidelines on neonicotinoids and their role in controlling invasive pests in California, and a diverse group of stakeholders participating in a panel discussion on the neonicotinoid issue.”

Neonicotinoids, recently implicated in the worldwide die-off of pollinators, including honey bees, are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. Considered important in the control of many significant agricultural and veterinary pests, they target the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death. “Neonics,” as they're called, are commonly used on farms, and around homes, schools, and city landscapes.

Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, will provide an overview of the current use of neonicotinoids and the role of honey bees in California agriculture. Six other speakers are scheduled, along with a panel discussion.

The speakers include:

  • Brian Leahy, director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, who will discuss “California Pesticide Regulation of Neonicotinoids” 

  • Nick Condos, director of the Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services Division, California Department of Food and Agriculture, “Neonicotinoid Risks Associated with Invasive Species Management” 

  • Karen Jetter, associate project economist, UC Agricultural Issues Center, “Trends in Neonicotinoid Usage in California Agriculture and the Control of Invasive Species”

  • Margaret “Rei” Scampavia, a doctoral candidate who studies with major professors Neal Williams and Ed Lewis of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, “Past Neonicotinoid and Bee Research”

  • Elina Lastro Niño, Extension apiculturist based at the Harry H. Laidlaw Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis, “Current Neonicotinoid and Bee Research.”

The California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH) will co-host the event with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Sponsors include California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers (CANGC), a trade organization founded in 1911 to promote and protect the California nursery industry; Four Winds Growers, based in Winters, Calif.; Scotts Miracle-Gro, a company headquartered in Marysville, Ohio, and known as the world's largest marketer of branded consumer lawn and garden products; and Monrovia, a horticultural craftsmen company headquartered in Azusa, Calif.

At the close of the conference, Fujino will preside over a panel discussion on neonicotinoid issues and concerns. Questions and answers from the audience will follow. The panel is to include a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor, and representatives from the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers, Home Depot, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Bayer CropScience and the American Beekeeping Federation.

The registration fee of $50 will include lunch, as well as the post-conference social hour. To register, access the CCHU website at http://ccuh.ucdavis.edu/public/copy_of_public/neonicotinoid-pollinator-conference-2015/neonic or contact CCUH representative Kate Lincoln at kmlincoln@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-6642.

The European Union recently adopted a proposal to restrict the use of three pesticides belonging to the neonicotinoid family (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) for a period of two years.  In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that by January 2016, it will ban the use of seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides and the use of crops improved through biotechnology throughout the 150 million acres managed by the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Posted on Friday, August 7, 2015 at 10:17 PM
  • Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey

Creating a Pollinator Garden

When you look at a flower, how often do you consider the importance of these unsung heroes? Pollinators help produce beautiful landscapes and the bounty of fruits, nuts and vegetables we all enjoy.

Bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, moths, beetles, birds and bats help plants reproduce by carrying pollen from one flower to another.

Right now, honey bee and other pollinator populations are being threatened by a number of factors including disease, mites, and loss of habitat and food sources.

Three-fourths of the world's flowering plants depend on pollinators, and those pollinators need your help!

  • Have you seen bees and other pollinators in your own neighborhood?
  • Are there flowering plants in your garden, park, school or community? 
  • Did you know that many pollinators are essential for the production of most of the fruits and vegetables you eat every day?

If you answered no to any of the questions above, click here to see how you can help!

Things to Consider for your Garden:


  1. A variety of plants will be ideal for providing diverse sources of nectar and pollen. Choose at least 20 different plant types, or fewer if the types of plants are highly attractive to pollinators. Don't forget that night-blooming flowers will support moths and bats.
  2. Help pollinators find and use your garden by planting in clumps, rather than just single plants. Think about "landing zones."
  3. Include plants native to your region. Natives are adapted to your local climate, soil and native pollinators. If you want to see some locals, plant some natives!
  4. Overlap flowering times between seasons and use a wide variety of plants that bloom from early spring into late fall.Pollinators are in a constant search for new resources. Choosing plants with overlapping flowering times from February to October will allow bees and pollinators to continually forage in your garden.
  5. Consider plant climate zones. Plant for success! A plant's native climate range is important in determining if it will be attractive to bees visiting your garden (and if your plant will grow well in your garden or not!).
  6. Design a garden that has structure. The arrangement of plants in your garden will influence your ability to observe and enjoy pollinators. Plant the tallest plants in the back with the smaller ones in the front.
  7. Plant in the sun. Bees prefer to visit flowers in the sun, so avoid planting your pollinator-attracting plants in the shadier parts of your garden.
  8. Reduce or eliminate pesticide use in your landscape, or incorporate plants that attract beneficial insects for pest control. If you use pesticides, use them sparingly and responsibly. Pesticides can kill bad insects as well as beneficial insects like bees, ladybugs and other predators of garden pests.
  9. Don't' forget about nesting bees! Not all bees have a hive. Make sure to leave some areas for bees to build their nests (either in bare ground or in prefabricated cavities in wood). It's ok to leave part of your garden un-mulched for ground-nesting insects to discover. 
  10. Leave dead tree trunks and branches in your landscape for wood-nesting bees and beetles. By leaving dead trees, or at least an occasional dead limb, you provide essential nesting sites for native bees, but make sure these are not a safety hazard for people walking below. You can also build a bee condo by drilling holes of varying diameter about 3 to 5 inches deep in a piece of scrap lumber mounted to a post or under eaves.
  11. Provide clean water for pollinators with a shallow dish, bowl, or birdbath with half-submerged stones for perches. 
  12. Create a damp salt lick for butterflies and bees. Use a dripping hose, drip irrigation line, or place your birdbath on bare soil to create a damp area. Mix a small bit of salt or wood ashes into the mud. 
  13. Provide a hummingbird feeder and add to nectar resources. To make artificial nectar, use four parts water to one part table sugar. Never use artificial sweeteners, honey, or fruit juices. Place something red on the feeder. Clean your feeder with hot soapy water at least twice a week to keep it free of mold.

The content for this blog was taken from the UC ANR Pollen Nation website.

Posted on Wednesday, June 17, 2015 at 8:12 AM

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