March ~ 2021
All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair--
The bees are stirring--birds are on the wing--
And Winter slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!
from Work Without Hope by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Welcome to the March newsletter! We trust your faces are wearing smiles from your own dreams of Spring as we approach the Spring Equinox this weekend.
Please join us tomorrow (March 17th) at 10:30 a.m. for Russel Barsh’s virtual presentation about BATS, those interesting critters we share this island with.
In this Spring issue, you can read about Slugs, Seeds, Salad and Sandwiches, learn about our area’s forest fire history, find a list of interesting online webinars, check out a movie recommendation, meet new Garden Club members, and finally, finish up with just a little Silliness. After all, we want to leave you with that Spring Smile on your face!

As always, we welcome your suggestions and comments. If there's a topic or idea you'd like to see covered in the newsletter, we’d love to hear from you. 

Until we meet again!
Nita Couchman
March 17
@ 10:30am

The Orcas Island Garden Club presents . . .

Russel Barsh

Bats Make the
San Juan Islands
Safe for Gardens!

Past, Present, and Future
Brian J. Harvey
2011 Fire in Colville National Forest, Washington
USDA photo by David Kosling

In his presentation, Forest Fires of Cascadia: Past, Present, and Future, Brian J. Harvey begins with a brief description of forest fires on the west coast in very recent times. He then describes fires in recent and historical times, beginning with a short description of fires east of the Cascades and then focuses on fires west of the Cascades within the context of last summer’s fires. He compares fires in the two regions and the role of fire in the ecology over time. He compares the differing adaptations plants in the two regions have to fire. He considers factors that lead to fires, how climate change is influencing the occurrence of fires, and how forests are recovering from recent fires. In his words “I will discuss some current research frontiers regarding forest fire ecology in Cascadia, and what the forests of the future may look like in a warm and more fire-prone future.”
I have watched his presentation twice, recalling the smoke-filled days we experienced last summer. I highly recommend this presentation if you are interested in the history of forest fires in Washington State and in ideas for responding to forest fire threats.
Brian J. Harvey is an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. This previously recorded webinar was hosted by the Washington Native Plant Society, Central Puget Sound Chapter. It is available on YouTube:

Submitted by Lene Symes, OIGC Program Chair
Soil Invertebrates -- Getting to Know the Life in Soil with Stephanie Frischie & Jennifer Hopwood
Xerxes Society - Webinar
April 1 @ 10:00 am (90 min. program)
Click here for more information and to register
Getting to Know the 'Good Bugs' -- Scouting for Pollinators and Other Beneficial Insects with Dr. Nancy Lee Adamson
Xerxes Society - Webinar
April 8 @ 10:00 am (90 min. program)
Click here for more information and to register
2021 Ecological Restoration Symposium: Healing Communities by Healing the Land -- various presenters
University of Washington Botanical Gardens - Webinar
April 13 from 9:00am - 3:30 pm
Advance registration -- $30 fee
Click here for more information and to register
***The Informed Gardener: Gardening Myths with Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott
An Orcas Island Garden Club Program - Webinar
April 21 at 10:30am (90 min. program)
Creating Community with Our Insect Neighbors with Dr. Nancy Lee Adamson
Ecological Landscape Alliance - Webinar
April 21@ 9:00 am PST (12:00 pm EST) (60 min. program)
Click here for more information and to register
Insect Apocalypse? What Is Really Happening, Why It Matters and How We Can All Be a Vital Part of the Solution with Scott Hoffman Black
Xerxes Society - Webinar
April 22 @ 10:00 am (90 min. program)
Click here for more information and to register.
This month we are welcoming NEW members Margaret Alic, Nita Bryant, Emmy Gran, and Victoria Parker, and thanking RENEWING members and donors LeeAnn Chastain and Randall Scheirman. Thank you all for your support. Names of new and renewing members and donors are included in our monthly drawings.



Mason Bee House Kit
with cocoons in April (harvested from the School Garden last fall).
Lovely ANEMONE plant from Driftwood Nursery. Lavender pink buds open to large, semi-double, poppy like, medium pink flowers with a deep plum purple center. Fern-like foliage. Great in container and mixed borders. 





Russel Barsh's publication, Living and Landscaping with Bats in the San Juan Islands.

Donated by Darvill's Bookstore.
We've Made it Easier for You to Become a Member

We are happy to announce that memberships and donations can now all be done directly from our website at . We have added an electronic membership form and a PayPal option. For those of you who prefer to pay by check, you may still print and fill out a form and mail it to us with your check.

To renew your membership, become a member, or make a donation, please select whichever method works best for you. YOU could be the next lucky winner!!!!


Click on the button below to email our Membership chairs and find out.

 is open!
It must be SPRING!

March Hours:
Tuesday - Saturday
10 - 5

CLOSED: Sunday & Monday

HAZEL O'BRIEN'S witch hazel bush is blooming at the Library. Next time you're in town, stop by the Library and enjoy this spring celebration in honor of our dear friend Hazel.
SAVE-THE-DATE --- APRIL 21 at 10:30 am
OIGC APRIL PROGRAM with Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott
The Orcas Island Garden Club is pleased to announce that our April speaker will be Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, an associate professor in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Washington State University, as well as an Extension Specialist in Urban Horticulture.

In her program, "The Informed Gardener: Gardening Myths," Dr. Chalker-Scott will talk about how you can differentiate good advice from bad advice about commonly used methods for addressing garden problems. Her knowledge is based on her career-long investigation into the practices and products gardeners have assumed are true and safe. Her work has debunked myths that in many cases were causing damage to plants and environmental health. She will share many of these myths with us and give us information to become better stewards of our gardens. You won't want to miss this program.

Dr. Chalker-Scott's website The Informed Gardener is at or her blog -- The Garden Professors is at

This program will be a Zoom Webinar. The link to join the Webinar is:
you can view the recorded program at:
The Orcas Seed Library:
A Great Resource for Local Seeds
Submitted by Katie Wilkins

The crocuses are popping, the days are getting longer, and another growing season will soon be upon us. Now is a great time to get together the seeds you want to grow in your garden this year. 2020 was a year of uncertainties, and the supply of seed for gardeners and farmers was no exception. Commercial seed was often back-ordered or unavailable due to high demand. It looks like seed supply has stabilized somewhat for this year, but still there has never been a better time to save and share seed locally.

One way you can do that is by supporting the seed library. This is a free, self-serve seed library housed inside the Orcas Island Library. It is available to everyone, and is stocked entirely with seed grown locally by people like you. Here is how it works:
  • Browse our seed collection
  • Select seeds that interest you, and fill out an easy form to check them out
  • Grow them in your garden
  • Return a portion of your harvest as dried, cleaned seed to the library for next year's growers
  • Repeat! Feel free to join up whether you have seeds to share or not
You can also donate your own seeds to the seed library. Here is what you can do:

  • Choose clean, dry, recently grown seed and label it with your name, the year it was grown, and the type of seed. Herbs, flowers, vegetables, grains, cover crop, medicinal plants and native seeds are all welcome.

  • Bring your seed to the library during any of our service hours and place it in the bottom drawer of the seed library. Library staff can direct you there.
Finally, if saving seeds gets you inspired, consider becoming a seed library volunteer. The Orcas Island Seed Library is in need of folks to help steward its growing seed collection. The work can be done mostly in the winter time, from your own home, and could include the following:
  • Taking responsibility for a portion of the seed collection, preferably one that inspires you (for example: flowers, herbs, legumes, leafy greens, etc.)
  • Helping with germination tests to check seed viability each year
  • Keeping seed inventory updated
  • Cataloging seed donations and returns
If you are unable to come to the library in person, feel to contact the seed librarian, Katie Wilkins, and she can make other arrangements with you to check out seeds, make donations, or volunteer with the seed library. She can be reached at
What you'll likely spot:
Native Banana slugs: Most often yellow or black-spotted yellow, banana slugs can also be green or white. They feed on mushrooms, leaf litter, and dead plants. As a result, they pose no threat to the garden.

Non-Native Arion rufus slugs: Introduced from Europe, they are usually browny red but occasionally black or white. This slug feeds on new growth and poses a large threat to garden plants.

Brown garden snail: Identified by its brown rounded shell and grey body. These little fellows will chew the tender leaves of a plant and potentially kill it.

Using the mantra of the Master Gardener ‘Right Plant; Right Place’ along with the advice of gardener extraordinaire Cisco Morris, rather than go to battle, try choosing plants that are rarely, if ever, bothered by slugs. Some of his favorites include fuchsia, geranium, crocosmia, penstemon, heuchera, salvia and kniphofia. He goes on to state that there is evidence that planted in substantial numbers, astrantia — an attractive perennial — might even repel slugs and snails.
Natural solutions include using a 3-inch wide barrier of copper foil or grabbing your flashlight around midnight, handpicking and tossing them into a bucket of soapy water or sharing a little of your beer with them. If you’ve exhausted non-toxic solutions, iron-phosphate-based slug baits, such as Sluggo, Worry Free and Escargot, are effective, and significantly safer to use around pets and children than the ones that contain metaldehyde, but use them with caution.

Finally, consider your tolerance for ascetics because a hole here or there will have little impact on the health of your plant or the beauty of your garden. It is often best, therefore, to overlook such damage, rather than trying to replace your favorite specimens with less desirable ones that happen to be more resistant to these pests. Sometimes it's all worth it to live and let live.
I have been an Island resident since 1988 and have a slow learning curve when it comes to soils, deer, fencing, and last frost date. I have followed the Garden Club's successes and speakers. Now in semi-retirement, I am looking forward to learning more about the above listed learning curve issues!
I moved to Orcas Island from Portland last September. I have been coming for years to visit my friend Steve and finally moved up here to live at his Mt. Woolard property. I have not gardened in years! I am so looking forward to learning the rhythm of the seasons here. I have spinach, Swiss chard, beets and parsley growing in a cold frame. Getting ready to start some seeds. I feel giddy with delight to be growing things. I found the Garden Club while looking online for information about gardening in the San Juans. So happy to join and someday meet other gardeners. I fantasize growing filberts, pears and plums! I have a lot to relearn and am passionate about all of gardening! I love flowers too!
I went to Quebec to see the world renowned 20-acre garden paradise of Frank Cabot. Virtually, that is. This film interviews Cabot explaining his philosophy of gardens and the history of his own garden. Les Quatre Vents (or The Four Winds, for those who ne parlent pas français) is described as garden theater at its best. Cabot is a self-taught horticulturist, and it’s delightful how his personality is reflected in his design. He wants most for his garden to elicit an emotional response. To that end, visitors pass among garden rooms or vignettes that inspire joy, humor, mystical, even trepidation. I loved the sense of whimsy and the color palette “There is no such thing as too many delphiniums.”

I especially liked how a professional said she felt like questioning him about some design choices and his wife thought he had gone over the top on occasion. To me, this shows how you can follow your own instincts to please yourself. That’s freedom of expression through the art of gardening. Also, Cabot admits readily to cribbing ideas from other gardens. One of the best things about visiting other gardens, including the ones on our own Orcas Garden Tour, is connecting to other gardeners' visions, and sometimes incorporating those into our own.

The Gardener (2016; 90 mins.) is available for free on Amazon Prime. Here’s a link to the trailer:
~ Submitted by Perri Gibbons, OIGC Board Member
mind until later on, when she came back to gardening as a young adult. In doing so, she discovered that all the plant names her mother had taught her were still in her memory. One of Emmy’s favorite recent gardening experiences was helping out at a friend’s farm in Portugal a few summers ago. “The olive and cork oak trees, the terraces, the wild herbs -- pure heaven!”
Emmy came to Orcas in 2012 to intern at the Doe Bay Garden. She fell in love with the island and never left. Eventually she found a calling to be a teacher and has been teaching at Salmonberry School since 2013. She’s also worked for George Orser and the Lums.

Compared to most gardens, Emmy’s current garden is postage-stamp sized. She feels lucky to rent a lovely place tucked between the Crescent Beach Preserve marsh and the beach, where it can get quite windy but is also wet, which reduces the amount of watering she needs to do. Her dream -- and she is always on the lookout -- is to purchase a farm on the island where she can participate in preserving the agricultural heritage of the islands.
When asked to name a favorite plant, Emmy says: “That’s like asking which is your favorite child!” Since she mostly must grow annuals, she’s likely to say her favorites are perennials which seem just out of reach for her right now. “So, heady old-fashioned English roses. But also lily-of-the-valley and sweet peas. The more fragrant, the better!”

Emmy has many garden passions. “I’m always looking to help with the healing of the land. I’m always asking myself, ‘how can I work in tandem with nature rather than at war.’ I want to remind our community that there is beauty and bounty right here on the island. There is no need to support the toxic conventional floriculture flown in from other places. And finally, that flowers are not a luxury. They are one of nature’s gifts to humans. They are a human right! Everyone deserves beauty in their life.”

To learn more about Emmy and her business, Fabled Flora, visit her website at She offers a seasonal CSA market bouquet subscription (a selection of flowers and greenery for you to make an arrangement on your own) or an arrangement subscription (a thoughtfully arranged seasonal flower and greenery arrangement in a vase. Choose spring, summer or fall for either a weekly or bi-weekly pickup of local, organic flowers.
Linda Pastan
Just as we lose hope
she ambles in,
a late guest
dragging her hem
of wildflowers,
her torn
veil of mist,
of light rain,
her dandelion
in our ears;
and we forgive her,
turning from
chilly winter
we throw off
our faithful
and open
our arms.
THIS MONTH'S RECIPES: Spring Salad & Sandwich
This spring seems more like a miracle than others. In addition to buds, shoots, and spring flowers popping everywhere, there’s renewed hope for a return to our pre-COVID lives. My cat Otto disappeared during the deep freeze and snow, and twelve days later was rescued from a 70-foot culvert that was tilted at a thirty-degree angle under our road. There are miracles everywhere. And the miracle of this green season brings spring vegetables which I’ve included in two easy recipes below. 

-Helen Huber, so-glad-for-spring Communications Chair
Fresh Pea, Mint and Manchego Salad

1 cup fresh shelled peas (or frozen peas thawed, drained, and patted dry)
1 cup sugar snap peas, stringed and julienned lengthwise
1 handful (about ½ cup) julienned mint leaves
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or the vinegar of your choice
½ cup olive or avocado oil
4 ounces Manchego cheese shaved with a vegetable peeler (or Romano, Parmesan or a soft goat cheese like chevre.)
(optional addition of lightly steamed or grilled asparagus and/or thinly sliced radishes)
  • Prepare fresh peas: Add enough water to a saucepan so the peas will be covered. Two cups will be plenty. Lightly salt the water and bring to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water while the water is coming to a boil. Add the shelled peas to the boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes, depending on their size. You still want them crunchy/not mushy. Drain and immediately plunge the peas into the ice water to stop the cooking and keep the delightful color. Drain again and transfer to a serving bowl. 
  • Add snap peas and mint.
  • Make vinaigrette: In a small mason jar or container with a lid, add lemon juice and oil, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon ground pepper. Shake and pour just enough vinaigrette over the salad to lightly coat veggies when tossed. Start by adding a tablespoon at a time. They should be flavored, not drenched or wet.
  • Add the cheese and lightly toss.
  • Serve chilled or at room temperature.
This-Reminds-Me-of-Breakfast-in-Paris Sandwich
(putting the rad back in radish)

  • One good baguette sliced lengthwise then in half for four pieces of bread.
  • 1 bunch fresh radishes, thinly sliced (For very thin radish slices, you can cut the stem off, then place the flat cut surface on your cutting board to get really thin cuts)
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) really good butter like Kerrygold but any butter is good
  • Flaky salt like a Maldon or use what you have
  • (Optional small handful of chopped fresh herbs like parsley, chives or tarragon)
  • Optional small handful of arugula)

  • Thickly butter each slice of bread.
  • Sprinkle with salt.
  • Lay sliced radishes on top. Lightly press so the butter helps them settle in. 
  • If using arugula or herbs, sprinkle those on top.
  • You can top with the second bread then either eat or cut into thinner slices. Or eat it open-face which is my preference. 

If you wrap and chill, it is a great spring picnic offering. This sandwich tastes like being in Paris but on Orcas…)
This photo was taken by one of our Board Members from her garden recently. Imagine her surprise when she viewed it later to find a pot of flowers at the end of the rainbow.!!!
And now it's YOUR turn.
Tell us what you think about the newsletter.
How can we make it better?
Your ideas? What would you like to read about?
Nita Couchman
Lene Symes
Perri Gibbons
Karen Hiller
Sally Hodson
Laura Walker 
Jan Jacobson
Tony Suruda
Helen Huber
Linda Armstrong
Email Nita
Email Lene
Email Perri
Email Karen
Email Sally
Email Laura
Email Jan
Email Tony
Email Helen
Email Linda
Orcas Island Garden Club
P. O. Box 452
Eastsound, WA 98245

Newsletter Editors: Nita Couchman & Laura Walker