November ~ 2023



Laura Walker

November has always been a great time for me to take pause and reflect upon what I am thankful for in life. I appreciate the Garden Club, helping its members learn how to garden and offering the Garden Tour that inspires and connects us. The Orcas Master Gardeners also come to mind, working hard in the community to educate young and old. I am especially thankful for my family; with the good health and memories we’ve had over the years.  

I feel so fortunate to have a place where we can hike, swim, breathe fresh air, and live among nature. Let’s do our part to take care of nature, as Doug Tallamy emphasized recently in his presentation. We all have a responsibility to grow plants for pollinators. 

As I was winterizing my garden yesterday, I found myself very grateful that I now know I don’t have to tidy up my garden too much as I once did. Piles of leaves remain for the pill bugs, and the stalks of drying sunflowers are left for the birds and hopefully native bees. So, I am thrilled to spend my time sterilizing my pots, transplanting plants to more appropriate places and put in a new rock garden.

Laura's New Rock Garden

And it’s pretty magical to live on this beautiful island with so many farms and talented growers that grow food right here for us. Our program this month features growing berries with Lisa Wasko DeVetter. How satisfying it is to learn to grow your own food. Though our blueberry season has passed, now is a perfect time to start researching your favorite varieties to plant in the spring. I am looking forward to her advice. So, get ready to grab your pail and prepare to pick fresh berries from your backyard in the future. I also hope you appreciate this month’s newsletter and the bounty it contains.

Stay well, Laura


Orcas Island Garden Club presents . . .



Growing Backyard Strawberries & Blueberries

Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 10:00 am

Madrona Room at Orcas Center or via ZOOM

Please join the Orcas Island Garden Club on Wednesday, November 8, 2023 when we welcome Associate Professor from Washington State University, Lisa Wasko DeVetter.

Lisa will present best practices for choosing, growing and harvesting blueberries and strawberries specific to the Pacific Northwest. Home grown berries are better tasting, more cost effective and satisfying than anything you can buy in the store. Nothing beats enjoying the fruits of your garden labor like a mouth-popping sun-warmed berry!


CLICK HERE to Join the Live Zoom Program
Click here for a list of all this season's programs


Karen always makes the WELCOME TABLE festive.

Our first event where the presenters participated remotely was a success.

Happy times sharing goodies and conversation after the program.

The door prize -- a lovely Brunnera (Garden Candy 'Silver Heart") -- was won by a visiting guest.


If you're planning to watch last month's recorded program from Far Reaches Botanical Conservancy, please note that you'll need to do that before November 15th. The presenters have asked that the recording only be online for 4 weeks, so don't delay.

View the Recording HERE



Lilian Bergsma-Lefever

Winner of the Best Book Award in the 2009 Garden Writers Association Media Awards

Donated by Darvill's Bookstore

Names of new and renewing members are automatically added to the raffle list each month. Members are also eligible to attend special Member Events throughout the year. RENEW or JOIN HERE!

We are grateful for support from these local businesses.



Flower Pressing Workshop

Dec. 3 ~ 12:15 to 3 PM

Tony Suruda (Board Member) will be holding a flower pressing workshop at the Orcas Library Community Room on Sunday, December 3, 12:15 pm - 3:00 pm. 

Participants will use specialized presses and microwave ovens to press and dry flowers and leaves in a few minutes. Flower petals and materials for mounting dried materials to make bookmarks, drinks coasters and holiday decorations will be provided. 

The workshop is limited to 12 participants. Each member who registers may bring along one friend to participate.

There is no charge, but Garden Club members are asked to register in advance to save your place. Please indicate whether you are bringing a friend with you.

To register, please email Tony Suruda at

NEXT GARDEN CLUB PROGRAM -- December 13, 2023 -

Preserving Your Garden Bounty with Jennifer Bryan-Goforth

Please mark your calendars and join us on Wednesday, December 13, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. Our guest speaker will be Jennifer Bryan-Goforth, M.Ed., a WSU educator focused on sustainable food systems and food access. Her presentation is titled PRESERVING YOUR GARDEN BOUNTY.


The wind that makes music in November corn is in a hurry. The stalks hum, the loose husks whisk skyward in half-playing swirls, and the wind hurries on.... A tree tries to argue, bare limbs waving, but there is no detaining the wind.

~ Aldo Leopold


by Helen Huber

Gliding on a Current of Hope, Excitement and Tiny Abundance

In 2019, the apple formerly known as WA 38 was officially renamed Cosmic Crisp. Perri Gibbons, a gardener near and dear to my heart and fellow member of the Orcas Island Garden Club, mentioned they were selling these trees only to Washington state residents. And she was correct. Cosmic Crisp trees can only be sold to and grown by WA state residents until 2028. I ordered my tree in 2022 and expected a lengthy wait for my first Cosmic Crisp apple to arrive. I had purchased and sampled the fruit at our local co-op and was excited with the potential of my own tree and future harvests.  


My tree arrived and I carefully got it into the ground. Imagine my surprise when the young tree, with a trunk that was as thick as my thumb, produced one perfect red apple. My husband and I cut it up into slices and enjoyed it thoroughly. 2023 was year two and three apples grew—an unexpected development. In early September, I harvested one, and alas, it was not quite ready. But luckily two remained. And there they waited, bending the slender branches that held them, gently bobbing in the wind. Unlike our Asian pears and plums that the raccoons had completely consumed, all of my four apple trees remained untouched.


CLICK HERE for Recipes

My Take on NY Times Apple/Kale Salad

Apple Crisp

Variations on Baked Apples

Mom's Apple Cake


with Suzette Lamb & Brett Lensing

So -- to catch you up . . . we’ve cleared the gorse field and now the task is to bring the wrecked, hydrophobic wasteland of a space back to life. Spring is upon us and Brett begins the work of sculpting the hillside to prepare for planting.  

If you get to know Brett, you might learn that he LOVES rocks. And he’s often talked fondly about learning how to build rock walls. So a hillside full of rocks, big and small, was a great laboratory for him. When it was all said and done, he built 27 rock planters over a six week period.

Then we (mostly he) wheelbarrowed 30 cubic yards of dirt to fill them. (Who needs a gym membership when you have this kind of a project?) 

Once filled, there was vetch and field peas and mulching to do and initial plantings of native trees, bushes and flowers in the places that were ready.  

Summer commenced and then just last month we planted more, amended soil, and next spring we’ll be able to fill out the rest of the planters. If the deer and the weather and wisdom of the land all cooperate, we should have something pretty special to enjoy. We’ll look forward to updating you then!


How Well Do You Know Your Blueberry & Strawberry Songs ?

by Cindy Woods

In recognition of this month’s Orcas Island Garden Club presentation on November 8, “Berry Delicious! Learn Best Practices for Growing Tasty Strawberries & Blueberries in Your Own Backyard,” we challenge you to test your knowledge of blueberry or strawberry in song titles or lyrics.

Match the singer or lyricist to the song title:


____Blueberry Hill

A. The Mamas and the Papas


B. MAX (Maxwell Scheider)

____Blueberry Pie

C. Gene Autry

____Blueberries (1955 version)

D. Bette Midler

____Blueberries for Breakfast

E. Georgia Gibbs

____Blueberry Eyes

F. Johnny Stimson


____Strawberry Fields Forever

H. Nancy Sinatra

____Strawberry Swing

I. Cold Play

____Strawberry Bubblegum

J.Justin Timberlake

____Summer Wine

K. The Beatles

____Strawberry Letter 23

L. Deana Carter

____Strawberry Wine

M. The Brothers Johnson



Reviewed by Perri Gibbons

As the summer blossom bling fades away, I find myself drawn to the soft green and gold of trees wrapped in wispy fog blankets. Thank goodness we have trees standing tall to help get me through our darker seasons. 

I found a book at the library which helps capture my fascination with these woodland wonders, commonly overlooked. Author Thomas Pakenham chose 60 trees to highlight in his book Meetings with Remarkable Trees. His criteria for selection were live trees located in Britain or Ireland which were photogenic and assessable. Pakenham’s sixty choices are grouped into natives, travelers, shrines, fantasies and survivors chapters and are paired with terrific photographs. 

So, while enjoying the book, I couldn’t help but compare them to the beautiful trees we are blessed to share space with on our island. Which led me to wonder about Remarkable Trees on Orcas? I reached out to skilled photographer Steve Smith who has taken photos for us at Garden Tours, and he kindly shared these photos.

This one captures what it looks like outside my cabin window this morning and how it makes me feel perhaps better than words can.  

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

~ Marcel Proust


Garden Club friend, Steve Smith, has taken photos for the Club over the years.

Steve shared his photographic journey and thoughts about his art with us:

"I purchased my first camera as a kid, from my father, with all of the cash I had earned doing odd jobs. But, I couldn't really afford the cost of film and developing film so I only took a few photos and had to think about what I shot. I didn't really start taking a lot of photos until digital cameras became common as they allowed me to experiment without spending a lot of money on film. 

"Until recently, I spent most of my life in the Great American Desert, far from people. To find something interesting to photograph, I would pick a spot and sit there until I found a way of making the mundane interesting. If you stare at the bugs crawling around long enough, you can usually find something interesting to take a photo of. When we moved to Orcas Island in 2014, there wasn't anything that was mundane. Everything was new and unfamiliar. So much color, so much life, so much diversity. Still, I find value in picking a spot and noticing things that are not obvious in the first few minutes. I often look for the details that are a part of the larger whole.

"My favorite photography is candid shots of people - street photography. I enjoy seeing humans in their natural element. Lighting is the most important element of photography for me. What color is the light? Where will the contrast be? What camera settings will highlight the elements. It doesn't matter if it is landscape or street photography; I think lighting is critical to every photograph. Without good light, even beautiful things lose their luster. Some of the photos I have taken of people have been complimented as being, "A great photo of that person. It captures who they are." What those have in common is that the lighting was good, and none of them were posed. READ MORE HERE

GO AHEAD AND SMILE . . . how far back did YOU go?


2023-2024 Membership to date : 126

Membership Fees :

Individual : $25 / year

Couple : $35 / year

Click HERE to Sign up or Renew your Membership


PRESIDENT: Laura Walker

PROGRAMS: Lene Symes & Kate Yturri

TREASURER: Tony Suruda

SECRETARY: Margaret Payne


MEMBERSHIP: Karen Hiller

GARDEN TOUR: Sally Hodson & Carol Wetzel


Orcas Island Garden Club

P. O. Box 452

Eastsound, WA 98245

Newsletter Editor: Nita Couchman