June ~ 2023



Welcome to our last newsletter of the 2022 - 2023 season! We'll take a break during July and August, but we'll be back in September with another round of monthly newsletters.

To bring this Garden Club season to a grand finale, please join us for our member picnic/potluck this Wednesday, June 14th, from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm at the West Sound Yacht Club. In spite of the recent rainy days, the weather forecast calls for "mostly sunny with a high of 65," so please come and party with us. Dress for comfort in case it's breezy. And please wear your name tag if you can.

As we wrap up this season, I've been thinking about how once again the Garden Club has met challenges and grown this year:

  • We were able to resume in-person meetings in January and made them hybrid so folks who didn't attend in-person could still participate remotely.

  • Our membership reached a grand total of 167 members

  • Vala Ross answered the call and has taken on the Communications position on the Board

  • Carol Wetzel joined the Garden Tour planning team

  • Kate Yturri has now partnered with Lene Symes as Co-Chair of the Programs Committee

  • OIGC participated in an all-day Earth Day celebration along with many other local groups concerned about our planet

  • In spite of having to cancel the June Garden Tour, special events for members were added -- several flower pressing workshops; a Skagit Valley day trip to visit tulip gardens and the WSU Discovery garden; and the Turtleback Farm OCPA Potluck -- and there are more events to come

We also had some folks step down from their board positions and volunteer commitments. Thank you all so much for giving your time, love, skills and energy to the Garden Club. Our huge thanks to:

  • Helen Huber who applied her skilled exuberance to serve as our Communications person for a number of years; 

  • Perri Gibbons who most recently helped co-chair the Membership position and has served in other board and volunteer ways for years; 

  • Cyndi Hawkins who served on the Program Committee for a time and has been our dedicated and expert AV person for over 10 years. 

And, finally, it has been my honor and pleasure to serve as Garden Club President for the past three years, being part of a fantastic team of board members and volunteers who were all determined to keep the Garden Club alive, vibrant and growing in spite of all the pandemic obstacles we faced. I know the Garden Club will be in good hands with Laura Walker taking over as President, and that the Garden Club will continue to grow and thrive under her leadership. Thank you again. It has truly been an honor.

See you at the picnic!

Happy gardening this summer.

Nita Couchman

OIGC President

Green was the silence, wet was the light,

the month of June trembled like a butterfly.

– Pablo Neruda

IT'S PICNIC TIME ~ Wednesday ~ June 14

Please wear your OIGC name tag if you have one.

Put on your Garden Club name tag and join us for a picnic !



Wednesday, June 14

11:30 to 1:00 pm

West Sound Yacht Club

525 Deer Harbor Road

Please bring a potluck dish to serve eight.

Plates, cutlery, napkins & cups

will be provided.

To add to the picnic fun, we'll have an activity table set up with instructions and materials to create a floral headpiece.

Come and plan to have a fabulous time!!!

We'd love to get an idea of how many folks to expect at the picnic. If you get a chance, please R.S.V.P. below with a Yes, Maybe, or No.

R.S.V.P. is not required for attendance, but is appreciated.




One of the great benefits of having embraced the challenges presented to us during these past pandemic years is that we have been able to record almost all of the speaker programs from this season. We are building a fabulous library of recorded programs that are available for viewing and re-viewing whenever the urge arises.

Deep gratitude to the Orcas Island Library for partnering with us in hosting Zoom meetings, recording them, and then posting to the Library's YouTube channel. Special thanks to Librarian Holly King who takes the raw footage each month and works her magic by editing out our blunders and then adding all those finishing touches like fancy titles and headings and music.

Take a look at the recorded programs from this year:

Thor Hanson

Hurricane Lizards & Plastic Squid

September 21, 2022


James Most

Growing Fruit & Nut Trees in the San Juan Islands

October 19, 2022


Cindy Morgan

Holiday Arrangements

December 14, 2022


Jason Ontjes

How to be a Noxious Weed Warrior

January 18, 2023


Marisa Hendron

Seed Stewardship for Locally Adapted Plants

February 15, 2023


Lindsey du Toit

Identifying and Preventing the Spread of Plant Diseases

March 15, 2023


Lynn Johnson

For the Love of Houseplants

April 19, 2023


Kevin Zobrist

Caring for Native Trees in the San Juan Islands

May 17, 2023

Click HERE to see next year's lineup of Speakers

“In June, as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day. No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them.”

— Aldo Leopold


June 7, 1961: Orcas Island Garden Club & Shaw Garden Club on Shaw Island

An early newspaper reference about a garden club meeting on Orcas in the summer of 1932 reports that 31 members and friends met for a luncheon at the Rosario home of Mrs. Martin.  Afterwards there was a program about cacti, with 20 or more specimens on display. A paper about cacti was read and illustrations from a botanical encyclopedia were presented. Before dispersing, the members viewed the flower gardens of Rosario. So gatherings of island gardeners have a very long history.

The Orcas Island Garden Club that we know today traces its official origins to May 23, 1958, when a group of 22 Orcas Island gardeners met and formed an organization.   Gladys Gropper was elected as the first president, and Mrs. Karl Moran as organization chairman and Secretary-Treasurer. At the next meeting on June 27, 1958 in the Deer Harbor Community Club House, the By-laws were adopted and a charter membership list completed.

The earliest reference found about annual membership dues lists them as $1.00 per year in 1961, but by 1962 they'd gone up to $2.00 per year!!!  At only $25 per year today in 2023, this is still a pretty reasonable deal.

From the earliest days, the mission of the Orcas Island Garden Club was "to promote interest in gardening and to advance interest in civic beauty, conservation of natural beauty and roadside beautification."

Sixty-five years later, the Orcas Island Garden Club is still going strong and has grown both in membership and in scope. Thanks to all of you who are committed to keeping our club alive -- by becoming members, volunteering to serve on the Board and committees, helping at Garden Tours, and participating in our educational speaker programs and member events.

We have so very much to celebrate!!!

Click HERE to read Vida Meredith's report -- The History of the Orcas Island Garden Club from 1958 to 1962 --  which she read at a Club meeting in August 1962.


by Laura Walker

It’s many a gardener’s dream to attend the Royal Horticulture Society Chelsea Flower Show in England located just southwest of London on the grounds of the Royal Hospital. Some consider it to be the premier garden event of the year. I was fortunate enough to attend it with my husband, Curtis on May 23rd and luckier yet, it was a gorgeous sun filled day. After a short walk from the hotel, we hopped on the public underground transport nicknamed the ‘Tube’ and arrived at the gate eager for the day to begin. Even though it was a Member’s Only day, the crowds were enormous. This year marked the 110th anniversary of the event.  


The show featured gardens with the latest design trends, floristry showcasing the sights and scents of spring, scientific innovations and recent discoveries in horticulture, music and entertainment, an array of food choices, garden related shopping and a special garden of Royal Reflection & Celebration marking the passing of the Queen and the recent coronation of the King. The garden themes were creative, inspiring and even a bit unexpected. Here are a few of my highlights!



One exhibit featured an outdoor laboratory, built into a hillside offering an ‘insect’s eye view’ and a space in which to study. The lab’s roof structure was inspired by a compound insect eye and the lab is used for real scientific research, monitoring and studying insects visiting the garden.

Another garden highlighted the use of diverse topography. Earth floors and pathways, dead wood, piles of debris, bare sand and ancient walls provided numerous and varied habitats for insects. Water in still pools and flowing streams provided additional important insect habitats and added interest to the aesthetic and soundscape of the garden.



Every garden at RHS Chelsea has a relocation plan as part of the entry criteria. As an example, co-designer Charlotte Harris for Horatio was awarded ‘Best in Show’ winner for a specifically designed wheelchair-accessible garden, demonstrating that having a functional and practical space doesn’t mean having to compromise on aesthetics. She explained how the relocation plan impacted the design. “This is a garden meant for Sheffield and designed for Sheffield but popping in on the way to say hello to Chelsea, rather than debuting at Chelsea and finding a home afterwards,” she said.  

Click HERE to continue reading . . . .


For those of you with ROKU Channel accounts, you can watch the series of programs about the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023 HERE

It is also available on YouTube HERE


More Than Enough


The first lily of June opens its red mouth.

All over the sand road where we walk

multiflora rose climbs trees cascading

white or pink blossoms, simple, intense

the scene drifting like colored mist.

The arrowhead is spreading its creamy

clumps of flower and the blackberries

are blooming in the thickets. Season of

joy for the bee. The green will never

again be so green, so purely and lushly

new, grass lifting its wheaty seedheads

into the wind. Rich fresh wine

of June, we stagger into you smeared

with pollen, overcome as the turtle

laying her eggs in roadside sand.


by Cindy Burman-Woods

Recently I toured the Sonoma Botanical Garden in Glen Ellen, CA.; it is dedicated to Asian plant species. There are no native plants, not even poison oak in the 25 acres of winding trails. There were figs, magnolias, rhododendrons, and unique Chinese Fringe trees; and irises bordering spectacular ponds. This tour piqued my interest in botanical gardens. 

Originally, botanical gardens were founded for medicinal purposes as early as 1545; they have morphed into gardens that serve science and the public providing access to conservation gardens and research.

There are seven gardens with UNESCO Heritage Site designation, and of those, three are “botanical” gardens. The oldest (1545) is the world’s first university botanical garden, Orto Botanico di Padova, in Padua, Italy. It “represents the birth of botanical science, of scientific exchanges. Its herbarium and library are among the most important in the world.” ( The Singapore Botanic Gardens, established in 1859, is home to thousands of tropical plant species, including 450 species of orchids, some nearly extinct in natural habitats. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in Richmond, England, outside of London, is perhaps the most famous.

Kew has 300 acres of gardens, the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse and the largest plant collection in the world. Kew also has an arboretum at Wakehurst with 500 acres of woodland.

According to Kew, a living plant collection is what sets a botanic garden apart from a park or public garden. It is a group of plants grown especially for research, conservation, education purposes and ornamental display (Kew). Botanic gardens protect endangered species outside of their natural habitats and they are open to the public. 


An excellent resource is the Kew website ( with videos and sections on science including Fungi, Plants, Science Stories, and Research Impact. Kew also lists the top ten new species each year. Go to the website for an in-depth journey into “cutting-edge” science, educational resources, and archives. (

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, seeks to present the plant kingdom by entertaining and educating. It has conservatories, wetlands, 200 sculptures and 18 “Supertrees,” huge trellis-like structures connected by a 364 ft. long sky walkway (photo right). However, Gardens by the Bay is not a UNESCO Botanical Garden and should not be confused with Singapore Botanic Gardens.

There are hundreds of botanical gardens around the world that are important resources and best experienced in person. Alternatively, saving time and air miles, an Internet search away and you will be immersed in these botanical treasures.


by Helen Huber

Here I am, nine years old with a mother who has a giant belly somehow filled with a baby. While she prepares for the birth, I spend my Saturday nights babysitting for the Weiss’ three children, all under the age of 4.


I ride my bike to their house, only a couple of blocks away. The air is thick with Kent cigarettes and a cacophony of crying. Luckily this week, I don’t have to make dinner and feed the children.


Most weeks, Mrs. Weiss leaves some dessert-in-a-jar for me to “whip up for the kids.” It’s pretty simple to empty the jar, add 3 more ingredients resulting in a dessert appearing shortly. These jars Mrs. Weiss leaves are filled with dry ingredients, most frequently flour, sugar, baking powder and soda.


This week, the children have all been fed before I arrive. A jar of dry ingredients for brownies is waiting on the counter, along with butter, eggs and vanilla. Other weeks we might make cake or chocolate chip cookies.

The two- and four-year-olds and I dump the brownie “mix” into a bowl. We add butter, eggs and vanilla, making a royal mess I will clean up when all the other evening chores are complete. After the brownies are prepared and cooling, I’ll give the baby his bottle and put him down for the night. The girls will get their bath.


For reasons I can’t understand,  Mrs. Weiss wants the girls to have a pre-bed snack of whatever dessert we have made or what she has left for us. Although chaos will follow dessert, we enjoy the brownies. A wild sugar rush will follow before the inevitable crash. I’ll brush two sets of teeth, get the girls into bed, then read stories. Eventually the sugar rush will fade and they will fall asleep but given the amount of sugar that is coursing through their systems, the crying begins shortly after the stories have ended. I have a younger sister and I’m used to senseless crying.

Now I begin the second round of clean-up chores. By this time, the cigarette smoke has dissipated with the absence of near-constant smokers, and I’ll clean up the kitchen, wash the floor, dishes, and jars of the day. I don’t mind, because the money is good; much better than the 50 cents a week I get for doing my chores and generally being agreeable and cheery.


The Weisses pay me 50 cents an hour, 75 cents after midnight. For every hour I am there! It seems amazing to me that I can earn more than my weekly allowance in a single night.


They don’t seem concerned at all that I am nine. Why would responsible parents leave three very young children with someone barely older then the four year old? From their perspective, the search for a reliable babysitter could be over and the price was right. And from my perspective, I said I could do it and I did.


The following year when my age hit two-digit numbers, I would be left at home with a newborn and my seven-year-old sister while my parents unsuccessfully went house shopping. Weekend after weekend. I guess I’m a stepper upper, responsible in mind and deed.


This month’s recipes are all desserts-in-a-jar. Make them ahead for a quick mixed-up dessert. Or gift them to people you like. These jars will allow you to step up, although with any luck, no one will be crying.


Go ahead and bask in the glow of a simplified and sweet job well done, whatever your age.

Click HERE for Dessert-in-a-Jar Recipes


Reviewed by Perri Gibbons

Staycation or The Joys of Garden Holidays: Because Gardens Make Us Happy

by Daniela Cortolezis

A book that confirms my own bias? Oh,Yes! Not that I need any extra motivation to stay home during my favorite season of the year. But, Cortolezis makes a good argument for doing so with intention to celebrate your garden.

For example, incorporate your plein air passion. Painting immediately comes to mind, but writing, reading and photography are easy contenders. I often carry a notebook to mark ideas or chores while I’m strolling outside, but never for creative writing. Cortolezis suggests trying a judgement-free stream-of-consciousness style. Or, perhaps writing a letter a day to a neglected family member or friend is more your style. 

For those who want a more meditative experience, she suggests daily yoga or Tai chi. Imagine the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of spending 30 minutes outside in mindful movement! Or you could exercise your intellect by listening to audio books. Maybe this is the time to discover a new language? Cortolezis proposes that a no-pressure language immersion is fun and intuitive.

The main takeaway for me is to make the deliberate choice to carve out a week or two to experiment and see what sparks joy. I do love to visit public and private gardens for pleasure and inspiration. I very much look forward to next year’s Garden Club tour. But, happiness for me lies in a summer staycation at the Gibbons’ garden and that’s where I’ll be.

See you in the fall. 



Total Membership for 2022~2023 : 167

Membership Fees :

Individual : $25 / year

Couple : $35 / year


PRESIDENT: Nita Couchman


TREASURER: Tony Suruda

SECRETARY: Margaret Payne

PROGRAMS: Lene Symes & Kate Yturri


MEMBERSHIP: Karen Hiller

GARDEN TOUR: Sally Hodson & Laura Walker

Orcas Island Garden Club
P. O. Box 452
Eastsound, WA 98245

Newsletter Editors: Nita Couchman & Laura Walker