MAY ~ 2021
"Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been,
I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there,
and I am prepared to expect wonders."
~ Henry David Thoreau
Welcome to the last full newsletter of the 2020 / 2021 Garden Club season. This year’s final presenter, Kate Yturri, will be giving her virtual presentation tomorrow (Wednesday, May 19th) at 10:30 a.m. about “Insects in Your Garden.” You don't want to miss this fascinating talk. And then the weekend of June 26 and 27, to wrap up the year’s programs and celebrate the gardens we all love, you’re all invited to join us in visiting five lovely Orcas Island gardens for the 2021 Safe Garden Tour: New Beginnings…New Blossoms. Tickets will be available soon.

When we started out this year, just 6 months into the pandemic, we had no idea what the year ahead would be like, but we took that leap of faith with this newsletter and planted a seed of HOPE that we could help our members and the Garden Club grow and thrive through this challenging year together. We expected wonders, as Thoreau suggests, but we had no idea how wondrous a year it would be.

We’ve found new ways to keep in touch with members, suggested programs you could enjoy and learn from at your own computers, introduced you to some longtime members and some of our new members, shared gardening tips, photos, and yummy ideas for cooking with the bounty from our gardens. But our true purpose was to keep the connections between all of us alive and strong.

A measure of our success is that we’ve welcomed 44 new members to the Club in the past 9 months, bringing our membership total for the year up to 180 people. We couldn’t be more pleased to have our numbers growing -- in spite of the fact that we haven’t been able to meet in person for over a year! Thank you all for supporting the Garden Club and for being part of our success story.

And now I should warn you, we’re going to take a summer break -- no newsletters in June, July and August -- but we’ll be back in September. With the trend toward things opening up again and allowing for in-person meetings, we’re hoping to launch next year’s season in September with a presenter in person at the Orcas Center. We look forward to being able to get together again and share our love of all things GARDEN with one another.

For now, please take your time and enjoy this month's newsletter, filled with all manner of garden news and ideas, Part 2 of Laura's Master Gardener series, people stories, book suggestions, recipes, and even a poem about the dandelion. Enjoy!

May your gardens flourish and your hearts be full!
Nita Couchman
May 19
@ 10:30am

The Orcas Island Garden Club presents . . .

Kate Yturri

Identifying and Protecting Your Best Garden Friends

Flowering Invasive Plants & Native Pollinators:
Exotic Buffet or Food Desert?

by Dr. Sandra Gillespie
Common teasel flower (Dipsacus fullonum)
Photo: David Cappaert,
Perhaps, like me, you are far too familiar with the plants on the San Juan County noxious weed list ( You may have wondered what plants will be left if you succeed in eradicating Himalayan blackberries, canary reed grass, tansy, teasel, bull thistle, Canada thistle, and many other noxious weeds from your property. Is it worth all the effort? Might benefits to pollinators outweigh the negative effects of invasive plants on native plant abundance?

Dr. Sandra Gillespie, Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at University of Fraser Valley, in British Columbia, Canada, writes: “to a wild bee, the field of purple loosestrife may actually represent abundant food. In order to succeed in a new environment, flowering invasive plants must attract effective pollinators. Those that do succeed often provide abundant resources and can attract a broad range of pollinators. But what does this mean for pollinator communities?” 

In her presentation, she shows the interrelationship between plant communities and insect species diversity using results from her own research and from past research. She describes what happens when scotch broom dominates in Oak Savannah ecosystems. She also considers native pollinators in agriculture and threats to wild bees.

This webinar, Flowering Invasive Plants and Native Pollinators: Exotic Buffet or Food Desert? was presented April 15, 2021. It was sponsored by the Washington Native Plant Society, Native Plant Appreciation Committee. Click on this link to view it: Flowering Invasive Plants: Exotic Buffet or Food Desert

Submitted by Lene Symes, OIGC Program Chair
*** Insects in Your Garden: Identifying and Protecting Your Best Garden Friends with Kate Yturri
An Orcas Island Garden Club Program - Webinar
May 19 at 10:30am (90 min. program)
The Northwest Horticultural Society ( is offering the following presentations. If you register you can watch live or later. Within 48 hours of the presentation those who have registered will receive a link making the presentation available for viewing for two-weeks.

COST OF EACH PROGRAM: Members: $10.00; Non-Members: $15.00.
Registration required.
Click on each event title for more information and to register.

Native Plants 101: Identification and Gardening
UW Botanical Gardens
Learn how to identify some of our native Washington plants.
$20 | Jun 14, 2021 6:30pm-8:00pm
2021 OIGC Safe Garden Tour
Orcas Island Garden Club
June 26 and 27, 2021 -- SAVE-THE-DATE
Watch for more information coming soon
This month we are welcoming NEW members Jerry Lane & Lisa Lewis, Laura Lucas, Susan Meadows, and Robert Pregulman, and thanking RENEWING member Diane Keller-Batter. Thank you all for your support. Names of new and renewing members and donors are included in our monthly drawings.
. . . . .

Four 5"x5" seed
starting trays
(donated by Tony Suruda)

. . . . .

Philippe Vapelle
Driftwood Nursery
(more plants like this are available at
Driftwood Nursery)

. . . . .

Pacific Northwest

by Merrill A. Peterson

(donated by Lene Symes)
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.
ROBERT PREGULMAN -- A new member

I never did any gardening until 2006 when I was unhappy with the person who maintained my garden when I lived in Seattle and decided to do it myself. I found that I loved working in the garden and have been hooked ever since. I moved to Orcas last fall and live off Quarry Rd. next to Mt. Woolard. I inherited a garden with a S/SW exposure that has great potential but needed a lot of work (and still does). I’ve mainly learned to garden by trial and error and hope as an OIGC member I can gain knowledge of how to garden in a more educated manner.
Looking forward to meeting everyone!
The Orcas Island Garden Club has been so fortunate this year to have the talented and patient staff at the Orcas Island Public Library who have recorded our virtual programs, edited the recordings and made them look fabulous, and then posted them to the Library's YouTube page so anyone can watch the programs at a time that's convenient to them. We send out our heart-felt thanks to Holly King and Mary Pugh for all your hard work on our behalf.

by Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott ???

You can view the recorded program at:

To celebrate a joyful summer following a difficult year, we've all been working very hard to create a special Garden Tour this year. We have 5 lovely gardens available to explore during the Tour weekend of June 26 and 27, and now we need YOUR help! We're looking for volunteers to be garden docents for 3-hour shifts on either Saturday or Sunday. READ MORE . . .
With my last home horticulture class freshly complete, I realize that this adventure is just beginning and actually, I happily reflect, it will never really end. Perhaps one of my biggest revelations is the relief of knowing I don’t need to become an expert overnight. 

I continue this learning equipped with a plethora of resources. I am now connected to a network of other folks as passionate as I am about all things fauna and flora with a strong desire to give back. This tiny but mighty community is here to solve problems together and help their fellow gardeners. I am humbled by what little I know, yet in awe of how much I’ve learned and I'm excited about how much more learning there is to come. 

I am ready for the next step! WSU Master Gardener Program Coordinator for San Juan County, Caitie Blethen shared what to expect.
To become a WSU Master Gardener volunteer, one completes the Home Horticulture training and then can apply to become a WSU Master Gardener volunteer. This includes filling out an application, completing a background check, and agreeing to the WSU pesticide agreement. Applicants then participate in a short informational interview to see if the program is a good fit. Usually this happens before training, but because of COVID it was altered this year.  
Once accepted into the program, you become an 'intern' which means you will be mentored by veteran MGs to learn how to be a WSU Master Gardener horticulture educator in our community. You learn how the diagnostic clinics work, where to find science-based and local resources to share at outreach tables or over the phone/email when questions come from clients, help organize events, work on demonstration gardens and more. Zoom is currently used for many of the projects/meetings and work in the community is beginning again (with COVID safety plans), so there are ways that interns can plug in. 
The expectation is that over a one-year timeframe, MG interns will contribute 50 hours of volunteer work as training to become a certified Master Gardener volunteer. After you are a certified WSU MG volunteer, the expectation is that you contribute 25 hours of volunteer service and 10 hours of continuing education each year.
As a WSU MG, you join a very dedicated group of life-long learners who are committed to helping their communities become better stewards of their landscapes. You gain access to resources through WSU where lots of educational opportunities are shared. 

The Master Gardener Foundation of San Juan County exists to support the WSU Master Gardener program. Volunteers manage all aspects of running our program and can opt to become a board member for our Foundation. You heard from our own Kate Yturri in the April MG article. She is the current president of the Master Garden Foundation of San Juan County. Check out the website for events and classes, resources for gardening in our area, MG community projects and fundraising efforts.
Now equipped with a roadmap, I was eager to reach out to some of those resident Master Gardeners to get their thoughts on what their favorite volunteer activities have been and why they pursued being a master gardener. We have about 70 active Master Gardeners in San Juan County.
Julia Turney took the training in 2004. She fondly remembers making many friends while commuting by ferry to Friday Harbor to brainstorm with other students and discuss their learning. At the time she was still living in Seattle but was so happy to maintain connection with her gardener island friends on the weekends. This training gave her “a license to learn more and know where to look for information." She added, "It is science based and proven. We get to be better stewards of our gardens.” Julia is a past president on the MGFSJ board.

Shortly after moving to Orcas, Nancy Forker took the training in 2011 also hoping to meet people. Her favorite volunteer activity is helping the local school with their native plant garden and annual nesting bee activity. A few years ago, the master gardeners took a portion of the school garden and created a native plant section. 
Nancy met with me and we walked through the beds watching the pollinators busily browsing the new selection of spring growth. Many common varieties were easy to identify but we were both puzzled by a few unique plants we came across. The chickens welcomed us and the vegetables were already taking off. Nancy is the current Treasurer on the MGFSJ board.
Lene Symes began her pursuit to become a master gardener in Texas and sadly had to abandon her commitment due to the competing priority of work. Once she retired and moved to the islands, she noticed an advertisement for the San Juan MG training in the paper. It was perfect timing and she leapt at the opportunity.  She stated, “My true interest is in native plants and the critters that go with them.” She took a course in herbs that was fun too. Her favorite volunteer activities are the diagnosis clinics. She loves the challenge of ‘sleuthing’ and coming up with solutions. She underscored that Master Gardeners are wonderful mentors. Lene is a member of the Orcas Island Garden Club board and currently leads Programs.
Tony Suruda became a master gardener to better understand plant problems such as the rust on the pear leaf. He most enjoys putting out tubes for cavity nesting bees. Last year the tubes at the school had cocoons of three types of cavity nesting bees: mason bees, alfalfa bees, and leaf cutter bees. Tony is a member of the Orcas Island Garden Club board as the current Treasurer. Here he is shown working at the Orcas School.
Although Master Gardeners spend a fair amount of time in diagnosing plant issues, I learned that many times disease, environmental stress as well as gardener disappointment can be avoided by following a simple and extremely valuable guideline that is highlighted throughout the MG training. 

Right Plant…Right Place. 

Do your research, consider all of the plant’s traits and requirements before purchasing and selecting the proper location in your garden where it will be happy, healthy and thrive.  
I am deeply appreciative and thankfully overwhelmed with the amount of resources and willing Master Gardeners that are there to help me succeed. I hope you all consider this amazing program to further your learning and enable you to give back by pollinating and spread your knowledge to others.
~ submitted by Laura Walker, OIGC Board Member
Two of our OIGC board members will be stepping away from their board positions at the end of June as this year's term comes to a close. We have all been blessed with their hard work and service to the Garden Club and wanted to let them know how much they are valued. We thought we'd ask a little about their experience being on the Board and what they're looking forward to next.
HELEN HUBER, Communications Chair
Briefly describe your position and duties
I first served for two years as Communications Chair. During that time I sent out emails to garden club members, sent public service announcements to three local media sources, and posted to both the Facebook and Garden Club Webpage. I took a break when our current president Nita Couchman took over as Communications Chair. I am now completing my second term as Communications Chair this year. The website was updated and now I communicate with the Webmaster who does the site updates.
What are the most challenging and rewarding parts?

Serving as Communications Chair has been a wonderful and rewarding pastime for me. The most challenging aspect was helping the Webmaster create a new website that stayed true to the club's origins but was updated to reflect the needs of our community. This included getting PayPal and soon online sales on the website. The most rewarding aspect of being on the board was taking the beautiful new logo that my husband Paul Huber created, and choosing and placing that logo on a variety of merchandise including sturdy canvas tote bags and window clings.  
What is your favorite memory of serving on the board?
I love public speaking and enjoyed sharing the new logo with the club during an in-person meeting.
Do you have future gardening plans?

I'm putting in about 15 new dahlias and am in the process of readying dormant land to accommodate wildflower seeds. My garden beds are not yet full, although they have been planned out. This year there will be an even larger herb garden and many more flowers for the cutting garden. My goal is to always have fresh flowers in the house. And a song in my heart. 
Will you still be a GC member?
Oh yes.  
JAN JACOBSON, Board Secretary
Briefly describe your position and duties.

Jan Jacobson is completing two years as Secretary, having previously served as A/V specialist and Publicity Chair. The Secretary’s duties include keeping minutes of all the Executive Board meetings , sharing them with the board members, and keeping the records.

What are the most challenging and rewarding parts?

Overall, Jan most enjoyed working in a vibrant group with supportive team members. She didn’t think her job was difficult and says it’s great that different Board positions offer varying degrees of investment and appeal to people with different skill sets.

Do you have future gardening plans?

Jan is a 50% flower and 50% veggie gardener. She is expanding the container garden she has on her large deck and hopes her new strawberry and raspberry plots take off this year. (We hope so too, Jan!)

Will you still be a GC member?

Of course!
A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has ~ Margaret Mead

“It all started with a pile of manure… all of a sudden it was an inspirational moment,” Patrick recalls. It was 2014 when creativity struck four innovative individuals. They all shared a passion for building community and were determined to change the world - locally. A collaborative partnership formed to embody food sovereignty, a way to empower people to be creators of the food that nourishes them. 

Kaj Enderlein, Caitlin Leck, Patrick Bennett and Ken Katz created Orcas Community Participatory Agriculture (OCPA), a locally-based model of agriculture, education and food distribution. Similar to the concept of a Community Supported Agriculture, OCPA is distinctly different by being participatory. (Pictured below from left to right are Kaj, Caitlin & Patrick.)
Their objective is to create a hands-on experience where members learn what it takes to grow and process their own food from seed to table, becoming active participants in a year-round local food network. They maintain that planning, growing and sharing crops as a cohesive unit result in an improved economy of scale and balanced, stable yields.

Each role plays an important part. Anchor Farmers are educators, organizers and leaders at the farm. Land Hosts provide the venue for the CPA project to operate. Lastly, Participants are individuals or families that invest money and time on the farm toward growing their own food and learning how to garden both on a large farm scale and a small kitchen style garden scale.
Each week the members gather to tend and nurture the garden, and in turn the garden provides harvestable crops throughout the year. By sharing the work and creating an environment where members can learn and share with each other along the way, the team achieves their highest goal - building community.
Now in their 7th year, Caitlin described the satisfaction of seeing the program mature, with this year's crew the largest yet and the expansion from a garden bed of annuals to one of perennials. Expansion is on the horizon and they are on the lookout for potential land hosts to launch other CPA farms.

The Orcas Island Garden Club was a proud sponsor of the OCPA and gifted a grant to help them begin their program. Years ago they participated in our annual garden tour and this year we are so lucky to have the farm featured again in our Garden Tour. We hope you get a chance to visit this project during our tour in June. 
My, oh my, that sun feels good! And, YES, May is finally the time to get serious about planting. This mid- to late-May time frame is safe for most seeds and plants to get in the ground.
Summer squash (such as zucchini), winter squash (such as pumpkins), beets, Brussell sprouts, cucumbers, bush and pole beans are as eager to get into the ground as you are to plant them.

TIP: Keep a record or a map of your veggies, so you’ll remember which varieties were most successful and tasty
With a sunny, protected spot, plant the heat lovers like corn, and transplant melons and TOMATOES! It’s a bit of a challenge for us in the PNW, but if you pick ones that are adapted to our shorter season, you’ll be sweetly rewarded at harvest time. 
TIP: Harden off those greenhouse babies
before planting them into the cold world.
It’s time to transplant heat-loving annuals such as impatiens, petunias, million bells and coleus. Zinnias, sunflowers, china asters, marigolds and nasturtiums are easy to grow from seed. Have you planted some dahlia tubers for a midsummer through autumn blast of color?
TIP: Plan for flower blooms from spring through fall. 
Remember, you want a feast for your eyes and soul, not just your tummy!

Dry summers here mean keeping plants (and us!) hydrated. Even those with irrigation systems need to keep alert for leaks. Continue regular feeding and weeding. Pinch tomato suckers, faded annual flower blooms, and ourselves for our luck in living here.
TIP: Attend the Garden Tour June 26th/ 27th
to be inspired by and learn from local gardeners!
Submitted by Perri Gibbons, OIGC Board Member
by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson
I must admit, I have never given insects much thought. Sure, I like the bumbling bumblebees as they stumble around from flower to flower. I admire the beauty and precision of the bejeweled dragonflies who hover over my garden patrolling for bugs with improbable flight. And of course, the lady bug, or more specifically, the larva which snacks on those sap-sucking aphids. In general, though, the insect world is only noteworthy during, say, yellow jacket season, or the annoying termite swarm. 
So, who said insects were her passion? Master Gardener and gardening expert Kate-Y. did!! (Groan, I know). With Kate's insect presentation to our Garden Club, I decided I needed to learn more. Fortunately, the Orcas Library has a wide selection at my disposal. I chose Buzz, Sting, Bite: Why We Need Insects as an incentive to why-I-should-be-more-interested-in-insects and it worked!
Sverdrup-Thygeson writes in an educational, entertaining manner comparable to local writer, Thor Hanson, and her passion for the subject comes through in her writing. The numbers, history, and range of the insect world are truly astonishing. I can't wait until Covid restrictions are lifted and I can share the amazing information I've learned at dinner parties and social events! Seriously, although I can't imagine ever being devoted to insects, I like to learn from those who are and especially about how they relate to gardens.
~ Submitted by Perri Gibbons, OIGC Board Member
~ Ted Kooser

The first of a year's abundance of dandelions
is this single kernel of bright yellow
dropped on our path by the sun, sensing
that we might need some marker to help us
find our way through life, to find a path
over the snow-flattened grass that was
blade by blade unbending into green,
on a morning early in April, this happening
just at the moment I thought we were lost
and I'd stopped to look around, hoping
to see something I recognized. And there
it was, a commonplace dandelion, right
at my feet, the first to bloom, especially
yellow, as if pleased to have been the one,
chosen from all the others, to show us the way.
Rhubarb & Strawberries, Oh My!

One of my early family memories is vacationing in southern California where we’d visit Knott’s Berry Farm. We always ate one dinner at a particular restaurant there whose trademark dish was a small bowl of stewed rhubarb for each diner. My dad was particularly fond of this, but we kids couldn’t quite get past the sour, mouth-puckering nature of rhubarb.

We’ve come a long way in discovering lovely pairings for rhubarb, most notably strawberries, but also other berries, apples, apricots, ginger, coconut, orange zest, just to name a few. Don’t let your imagination hold you back. Click to continue reading . . .

~ Nita Couchman, OIGC Board Member
In spite of all the turmoil and restrictions that this year has brought because of COVID-19, the Orcas Island Garden Club Board is wrapping up this season with SMILES on our faces! Look at
This Year in Numbers and see if you aren't smiling too:
This Year in Numbers :
The Orcas Island Garden Club 2020 / 2021
Total Members in 2019/2020 : 136
Total Members in 2020/2021 : 180
Renewing Members : 53
New Members : 44
Raffle Prizes : 17
Webinars : 11
Zoom Presentations : 5
Newletters : 9
Garden Club Connections : countless!!!
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