November ~ 2022



Nita Couchman

Autumn ... the year's last, loveliest smile.

~ William Cullen Bryant

Well, fellow gardeners, it's November already, and we've gone from getting our first rain to getting our first snow all in the last couple of weeks! Looks like it's time to bundle up and accept the fact that winter is coming.  

With that in mind, this issue of the newsletter is full of interesting pieces -- covering gardens from Orcas to Portugal, cocoon gathering, forcing bulbs, a guide to making and using boiled apple cider, and much more. We hope as you read, you'll learn something you didn't know before, you'll be entertained, and you'll be inspired to try something new.

We've asked before, and we're asking again, for a few members to step up their commitment to the Garden Club and help us out by volunteering to take on some tasks. We've given you nutshell descriptions of roles we need filled, and we will happily entertain any and all questions from anyone who would like more details. Please consider what you can do to contribute to YOUR Garden Club.

Plans are afoot to move forward with in-person / hybrid meetings in the coming new year. There are still some details to work out, but we are looking forward to being able to meet together again soon. We've all missed this vital element of being together socially. Be on the lookout for news updates about this.

Until then, stay warm, stay safe, and enjoy the garden goodness in this November newsletter.

Nita Couchman

OIGC President

CLICK HERE to send us your comments, questions, photos, gardening stories, and newsletter ideas. Tell us how we’re doing. We are eager to hear from you!!!

NOV. 9 (Weds.) @ 10:30 am via ZOOM

The Orcas Island

Garden Club

. . presents . . 



Cracks & Crevices:

the Art of the Crevice Garden

Read more about this Presentation.

OIGC PROGRAMS -- 2022/2023

At present, we will be continuing with virtual presentations via Zoom.  Programs will be recorded and posted on our website for later viewing as well. 

Meetings begin at 10:30 am and are hosted through the Orcas Public Library's Zoom.

Click HERE to Join Zoom Programs

Sept. 21     Thor Hanson ~  Hurricane Lizards & Plastic Squid

Oct. 19   James Most ~ Growing Fruit & Nut Trees in the San Juan Islands

Nov. 9  Paul Spriggs ~ Cracks and Crevices: The Art of the Crevice Garden

Dec. 14     Cindy Morgan ~ Flower Arranging for the Holidays

Jan. 18     John Christianson ~ Selecting & Growing Roses in the Pacific NW

Feb. 15     Marisa Hendron ~  Seed Stewardship for Locally Adapted Plants

March 15     Lindsey du Toit ~ Principles of Plant Disease Spread & Management

April 19     Peter Guillozet ~ Planned Competition, Intentional Messiness, & the Role of PNW Native Plants in Landscaping

May 17     Kevin Zobrist ~ Caring for Native Trees in the San Juan Islands

June 24 & 25  ~  ANNUAL GARDEN TOUR




Sidney Coffelt





Driftwood Nursery



Suzanne Lamb





Driftwood Nursery

Names of new and renewing members are automatically added to the raffle list each month.  If you haven't already done so, send in your renewal soon to get in on the fun!!!


Cindy Morgan will be our December 14th program speaker. 

On December 14 at 10:30 am, Cindy Morgan will give a presentation titled FLOWER ARRANGING FOR THE HOLIDAYS. The program will be presented via Zoom (thanks to hosting by Orcas Island Public Library). The recorded program will be available for viewing approximately a week later. READ MORE

A peek at the Fall Festival at Camp Orkila

by Perri Gibbons

On Orcas, we know how to have a good time, even in the rain !!!

By painting


of course !!!

Of course, you need to sample the result served by the friendly staff

Apples in the


Transfer to the press

and turn the crank

Sipping cider by the fire on a cool, damp Orcas day


Recording of JAMES MOST Program is now available

For those of you who missed our October 19th program with James Most about caring for fruit and nut trees, you can now view the recorded program. Ongoing thanks to the Orcas Island Library for partnering with us on these recordings.



 "Autumn is marching on: even the scarecrows are wearing dead leaves."

~ Otsuyu Nakagawa

H-E-L-P : Your Garden Club Needs YOU !!!

by Nita Couchman

Thanks to all of you who've renewed your membership in the Garden Club again this year. It's great to know that we're part of such a vibrant community of folks devoted to "hands in the dirt" and to the magic of growing plants. We hope you're enjoying the benefits of membership, and now we're asking some of you to take the next step and give a little bit back to the Club. 

We've had a fantastic team of folks on our Board keeping the Club going and growing, facing unique challenges throughout these past couple of years.  Now it's time for some of our long-serving Garden Club board members to put their feet up, take a break, and give other club members an opportunity to contribute their talents and time to keeping our Garden Club growing and healthy.  

Since we're all volunteers and have busy lives, we know you value your precious free time as much as we do. That's why we've tried to break down some of the Garden Club tasks into smaller bits so no single commitment takes too much time.  

Here are a few areas where we need immediate help:

SENDING EMAILS to members and to media: 

Sept through May.

  • Once a month send an email meeting reminder to all members. Occasionally there may be additional emailings.

  • Once a month send an email to media with publicity info about the month's program

SOCIAL MEDIA -- Facebook and Instagram


  • Post announcements for Garden Club events - usually 1 per month 
  • At least once a week post something relating to gardening


  • Post photos relating to gardening as you are inspired to do so


  • Once a month (Sept - May) attend monthly program. 
  • Set up and operate the camera system to connect live (or remote) speaker presentation to Zoom participants and record the program on Zoom. 
  • Following the program, edit the recording: using software, crop out unnecessary parts, add titles (OIGC, Speaker, Program Title & Date), add background music, for example.  
  • Send video link to Communications Chair for posting to our Garden Club website. 
  • Training is available for this position.

If you have the skills and interests that fit with any of these tasks or if you have any questions, we would love to hear from you. Tasks can be shared with a friend if there are two buddies who would like to work together. We're open to your creative ideas. Training is available for ALL of these tasks.

Please email Nita Couchman at and we'll set up a time to get together. We look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for considering taking this next step toward supporting YOUR Garden Club.


by Kate Yturri

Gardens in Europe are often big and showy. Locals lunch, walk, run and read in them. Tourists visit them. Think the Luxembourg Gardens, the Tuileries or Jardin des Plantes in Paris or the gardens around Versailles.  

The gardens I enjoy the most are the small, quiet gardens or large areas that we don’t think of as gardens that you can walk through in solitude.

On a recent trip to France and Portugal I enjoyed some fabulous gardens you may not have heard of. Many of them are neighborhood gardens that are frequented by locals who sit and chat, read or picnic. Many of these we don’t even think of as “gardens.” They all have cobblestone, or gravel paths, benches and often tables and of course lots of plants - trees, shrubs, flowers.

READ MORE . . . .


We're still . . . LOOKING FOR ORCAS GARDENS FOR 2023 TOUR....

Please help us scout out some lovely gardens for our 2023 Garden Tour.  

Our 2023 Garden Tour will be on Saturday, June 24th and Sunday, June 25th with all gardens open from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm on both days.

Some things we look for :

  • Interesting plants (annuals, perennials, fruit trees, veggies, natives, shrubs, bird/insect friendly, deer resistant)

  • Creative design ideas that fellow gardeners would enjoy seeing and might like to use in their own gardens

  • Unique features (greenhouse, pond, rain catchment, berry cage, raised beds, drip watering, garden art)

Gardens must also be accessible to cars coming & going, have some parking area, and pose no hazards. 

If you know about any great gardens that might be suitable for our tour, please let us know and we’ll contact the owners to see if they’re interested.  

Email Ideas to : Sally Hodson OR Laura Walker


We are delighted to announce that Carol Wetzel has joined the Garden Tour leadership team! Carol will work alongside Sally Hodson and Laura Walker to learn the ropes this year and then officially step into the co-chair role in 2023. Carol brings energy, enthusiasm, creativity and passion to the position. We are excited she has volunteered to be part of our team. We are looking forward to her ideas and collaboration. She’s already jumping in as we begin our search for gardens this year! Pictured here is Carol and her husband, Allan along with their dogs. Please enjoy a little background about Carol:

I come from a long lineage of gardeners and Nebraska-born farmers. My mother, a beloved docent at the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden, couldn’t help but prattle off Latin names of plants, causing rolling of eyes from my brothers and me.  A biologist, my dad’s compost pits were a marvel as we pitchforked each pit into organic perfection. I too have found solace in soil, and in troubled times, the promise and hope of a garden’s growth.  Ambitious and undaunted, my two young daughters watched in wonder as I transformed an entire acre of lawn into a garden brimming with roses, perennials and delightful trees. In Salt Lake City, UT, Allan - my equally crazed-to-create husband — and I tore out the lawn and installed a drought tolerant explosion of grasses that inspired our neighbors to do the same. 

Landscape Before
Landscape After

Last year we bought our house on Olga Road because of its amazing garden, designed by Kabloom, which is packed with boulders, established ornamental grasses, an abundance of unusual trees, and plantings that delight every season. But my favorite part of our acreage is its potential, now with space dedicated to pollinators and hummers, sedum-packed rock gardens, flowers to cut, berries, a unique sun-capture annual garden, orchard, wine and table grapes galore, mushrooms, medicinals and a huge pond with a daunting dam of predominantly clay soil I need to amend. My main mentor is Mother Nature, but I am thankful to Geddis across the street, Garden Club members like Laura Walker, and Alex Wolf for introducing us to permaculture and designing a coherent plan to nurture our Little Farm on Olga Road into something truly special for all to enjoy.

Backyard design by KABLOOM
Patio Installation


by Barbara Crooker

Praise the light of late November,

the thin sunlight that goes deep in the bones.

Praise the crows chattering in the oak trees;

though they are clothed in night, they do not

despair. Praise what little there's left:

the small boats of milkweed pods, husks, hulls,

shells, the architecture of trees. Praise the meadow

of dried weeds: yarrow, goldenrod, chicory,

the remains of summer. Praise the blue sky

that hasn't cracked yet. Praise the sun slipping down

behind the beechnuts, praise the quilt of leaves

that covers the grass: Scarlet Oak, Sweet Gum,

Sugar Maple. Though darkness gathers, praise our crazy

fallen world; it's all we have, and it's never enough.


by Cindy Burman-Woods

In October, Orcas Master Gardeners joined Mandy Randolph and the 5th grade class in the school garden to clean and harvest Mason bee cocoons. The Master Gardeners worked in groups of 3-4 students; the students took reeds obtained from the Mason bee nesting home, gently broke open the reeds to remove cocoons, washed and dried them in preparation for overwintering. Mason bees, genus Osmia, got their name from "cementing" their nesting materials with mud. Their cousins, the leaf cutter bees, are active in late summer and seal egg compartments with leaf and flower petal parts. Mason bees are important early spring native pollinators that, along with bumble bees, will fly in our damp coastal climate when it's too cold for honey bees to be very active. 

In 2017 the WSU Master Gardeners decided to design and plant a Native Plant Garden with a matching grant from the Orcas Island Garden Club. The goal was to incorporate Native American uses of plants, pollinator plants, and other science topics into the school curriculum. 

Since 2019, Tony Surudu has led this Master Gardener activity with commitment to the education of the youngsters. In addition to placing bee cocoons and nesting materials in the school garden each April and retrieving and cleaning the next generation of mason bees in the fall with the students, he and other master gardeners ensure that students and teachers have information about the bees and their life cycle. 

When the bees emerge, they mate. The females gather pollen and nectar, place a lump in the nesting tube, and lay an egg. The female seals off the area with a plug of mud and places more lumps, eggs, and mud until the tube is filled. The eggs hatch in a few days, the larvae develop, and by September spin a cocoon and pupate. 

That's the time to open tubes, wash off and clean the cocoons, and discard any parasites such as hairy fingered mites and carpet beetle larvae. The cocoons spend the winter in a humidity-controlled container in a small refrigerator until it's time to put them out in April along with fresh nesting materials to start another generation. The tradition continues today. Some of the reeds contained parasites and under the guidance of a Master Gardener, students got a kick out of viewing mites under a microscope. 

One group of students named each cocoon after themselves with one left over, which they named Bob. What happened to Bob? The students washed frass, a larva poop with a grainy texture, off of Bob by dipping his cocoon in a bowl of water. He then was set next to the other cocoons to dry off. Bob’s destination for the winter is Master Gardener Tony Suruda’s specially dedicated refrigerator, joining other cocoons harvested from all the combined student groups. In the spring, Bob will join the other emerging mason bees in flight to pollinate the gardens.

For more information visit:


by Laura Walker

Last month we discussed what NOT to do in the fall by allowing your garden to slowly drift into dormancy and welcome wildlife to take advantage of refuge and food. But what proactive things can we do to support our struggling pollinators?


Pollinator populations are declining globally. According to Cornell University, nearly 75% of all crops around the world are at least partially dependent on pollinators. In addition, somewhere between 75% and 95% of all flowering plants on the earth need help with pollination – they need pollinators. Though bees make up the majority of pollinators, did you know that birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps and small mammals can be pollinators too? Not only are we seeing losses in honeybees, there is good evidence to suggest we are witnessing population declines in both wild bees and other native pollinators as well.  


Last month, West Coast gardening expert, Linda Gilkeson spoke at the 2022 Master Gardening Workshop Series on preparing gardens for winter. She seemed delighted to share a section in her presentation that she exclaimed was ‘close to her heart,’ encouraging listeners to expand their insect gardens. “Insects are valuable to us gardeners,” she said. She went on to explain that now is an especially great time to support insects by planting perennials, so they don’t need as much water next spring. 

She shared some great tips about attracting pollinators:  


  • Aim to grow 50% of native plants in your garden mixed amongst your other plants.  
  • Plant in masses so that pollinators notice the plants. Her rule of thumb is planting a square yard which can be either a large plant or many of the same kind.  
  • Introduce a lot of variety; the more flowers there are in bloom, the more kinds of flowers in bloom at any one time, the more species visit.  
  • Incorporate late winter/early spring flowering varieties as well as early winter flowers. Many insects need those fall flowers to survive the winter as they build up body reserves to survive hibernation.  
  • Choose flowers that are not highly modified such as hybrids. Select the least manipulated because native insects haven’t evolved to see all these fancy colors and weird flower shapes.  
  • Choose flowers that produce pollen as some flowers are bred to be pollenless such as cutting sunflowers. 


Another general piece of advice is to have at least three different things blooming throughout the growing seasons. Spring is easy because so many things are in bloom. Take a survey of your garden for things blooming in the shoulder seasons to ensure you are providing for as much of the year as possible.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center provides a handy database with a recommended native plant species list which includes bloom color, bloom time of the year, light and soil requirements, images and other plant properties. You can find this on the Xerces site as well as other helpful information on supporting our pollinators including a pledge that you can take!


The alarming rate of decline in our pollinators is discouraging. The data shows that you can make a significant difference if you focus on creating a healthy and pollinator-friendly garden. Do what you can do and talk to your neighbors. Remember we can all do our part by starting in our own gardens. Why not take the ‘Bring Back the Pollinators’ pledge? I did! It’s built on four simple principles:


Xerces Society Pollinator Pledge

1. Grow a variety of bee-friendly flowers that bloom from spring through fall.

2. Protect and provide bee nests and caterpillar host plants.

3. Avoid using pesticides, especially insecticides.

4. Talk to my neighbors about the importance of pollinators and their habitat.


Other sources:

Ollerton J, Winfree R, and Tarrant S (2011) How many flowering plants are pollinated by animals?


Reviewed by Perri Gibbons

Though I’ve never heard the term “crevice gardening,” I understood instantly what it meant -- probably because I see examples of it all around on Orcas. It really makes sense to embrace a technique well suited to our geography and climate. Instead of struggling to enrich rocky, nutrient-poor soil, find plants that thrive in dryness and drainage. 

The Crevice Garden, co-written by upcoming GC speaker Paul Spriggs, and Kenton Seth, is a comprehensive guide to “making the perfect home for plants from rocky places.” Chapters include The History of Crevice gardening, Soil and Plants, and Building a Garden in 8 steps. Case Studies: Lessons From the Best puts a spotlight on successful crevice gardens around the country, including Port Townsend’s Far Reaches Farm. The last chapter focuses on plant profiles of crevice worthy plants -- flowers, ferns, succulents, conifers…. Be still my heart! 

If Paul’s November 9th presentation leaves you craving more, his book is available from the Orcas Public Library and is back-ordered at Darvill’s Bookstore. I imagine many of us would like to own this informative book, packed with lovely, inspirational photos.

If you know of a hidden garden treasure on Orcas (a spot, discovery, surprise), we'd love to hear about it! EMAIL US


by Laura Walker

Try this easy DIY project to enjoy fragrant, white blooms during the winter months when you’re longing for spring to return!

Paperwhites (Narcissus papyraceus) are an easy bulb to force in containers of water with some stones or marbles to anchor them in place. Paperwhite bulbs are typically available at retailers from the first of October through late winter. Keep in mind that bulbs typically take four to six weeks to bloom so you can plan their blooming.

Select a container that's about 3 to 4 inches deep and does not have drainage holes. There are so many possibilities - I found mine at the Exchange! Fill the bottom of the container with stones, marbles, or gravel.

Position the paperwhite bulbs with the pointed end up on top of the stone layer. Fill the gaps around and nearly cover the bulbs making sure the pointed tip of the bulbs are still showing. Paperwhites not only look better in a group, but the tight fit will provide support and help keep them from toppling over.

Add water to the container so the level just reaches the base of the bulbs. This will stimulate root growth, but avoid covering the entire bulb as this will cause them to rot.

Place the bulbs in a dim cool spot around 65 degrees until you notice roots. Inspect your container daily to determine if it needs more water to maintain the level at the base. 

Move the container to a sunny window when you see roots developing. The sunnier the better, but don't permit the growing bulbs to get too warm or they will become leggy. 

Enjoy the blooms and fragrance for a week or two before fading. Once flowers appear, the blooms will last longer if you move the pot out of direct sunlight to a cool spot with indirect or diffused light.


Making & Using Boiled Apple Cider

by Helen Huber

My mom bought massive glass bottles of apple juice which we drank like water, possibly because the bottled "juice" was actually 95% H2O. But all that changed when my dad finally stopped at the Jericho Cider Mill, in Jericho, New York, just down the road from our Hicksville home. Rumor had it that you could buy apples there beyond Macintoshes or the poorly christened Red Delicious, the only two in constant rotation at our local grocery. 

I was in the back seat, begging as usual for him to stop at this exotic apple emporium. It was a crisp fall day and I guess we had a tad of time on our hands, so we pulled in. There were bins of apples…of many colors…and varieties. There were small slices on pottery plates; that alone was enchanting enough to make my day, but these apples had flavor! Unexpected and wonderful. The woman behind the pinewood counter told me I could taste as many different slices as I liked and I started down the row, hoping my dad wouldn’t call me back. 

I made it to the end of that row, and was greeted by another woman selling cider, which apparently kids could consume. It changed my life in the best of ways. It was the royalty of fruit-based beverages, and it actually tasted like apples. It was warm with hints of cinnamon; rich and satisfying and so darn unexpected because who would have thought pummeled apples could produce this much flavorful goodness? 

I now live in the state that produces 65% of all fresh apples in the country, with more than 70 varieties grown. My very own property (in better apple years than this) generates four types of apples. Now there’s plenty of appley-goodness which I embrace every fall. 

Jericho Cider Mill is still there. And the joy of everything apples is still in my heart.

Unboiled Cider
Measure Stick
Boiled Cider

Making and Using Boiled Cider

(In a nutshell, pour a gallon into a pot, simmer for 4-5 hours,

measure so you have 1/8th of the original amount,

then pour into jars. Process or refrigerate.)

1. Pour: Pour one gallon of apple cider into a Dutch oven or other thick-walled cooking pot. You will be barely simmering the cider for 4-5 hours, so a thinner pot leads to scorching, hence this recommendation for a thicker pot. 

2. Measure: Place a chopstick or bamboo skewer in the middle of the pot so it is vertical. With a pencil, mark the level of cider. Remove the chopstick/skewer. Mark the halfway point between the bottom of the stick and the starting level mark. Now divide that in half again so you have the quarter mark. Finally, mark the halfway point again so you have ⅛ of the original amount marked on your stick. I like to make a little arrow showing what the final mark will be. That’s how much the cider will boil down and you’ll roughly know when you're done.


3.  Add Spices (optional): Boiled cider is outstanding all by itself but if you like spices you can add two or three cinnamon sticks and four or five whole cloves for additional flavor, (if you like that sort of thing.) Just drop them into the cider.

4.  Simmer: Bring the cider to a boil, being careful as it will bubble up and foam over quickly if you aren’t watching. Immediately turn down the heat so it barely simmers. Barely simmer, stirring two or three times an hour, until the cider has reduced ⅛ to the bottom line of your skewer/chopstick. You will start with 16 cups (one gallon) and the cider will reduce to 2 cups (⅛ of the total you started with.)


5.  Check using both your handy chopstick/skewer but also by pouring the reduced cider into a measuring cup that holds at least 3 cups. You’ll want two cups when complete. If you don’t have 2 cups yet, pour back into your pot and simmer until you have 2 cups. The final boiled cider will be darker brown than the golden color you first saw. It will be thicker—more like maple syrup in viscosity. Refrigerate if not processed (canned.)

How to Use Boiled Cider

"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 Laura Walker

I've been spoiled by the warm weather this fall. Last year I planted up half a dozen beds, big and small, with lots of types of tulips thinking I could create a mini Skagit Valley tulip trail. Well, as all gardens and owners do, they happily change, so I wanted to dig up those little lovelies and embed them in different pockets within the garden to free up the tulip beds for other things. Pictured are the blooms from last year. Competing priorities and procrastination got the best of me.

Well November is here and it's time to tackle this task or wait until next year. I peered through my fence in envy at my always-organized neighbor as she planted her newly arrived bulbs and she has just the place for every one of them. Yet I have a dilemma. One large bed contains nine different types of tulips in various colors and sizes. I had to figure out a way to lift the bulbs and try to keep the varieties separate.

Luckily I had tagged all the varieties (which I highly recommend). So I grabbed my trusty pitchfork and began systematically lifting right next to each tag, being careful not to venture too far into the other bulb locations in the bed. I separated each variety into different pots to prepare them for a trip across the garden to a new home. When I was confident I had gathered an adequate amount of each variety, I made a 'mystery' pile of bulbs and there was a bunch! See tI plan to pot them up and give them to my adult kids for their patios.

Have you ever had a gardening challenge that you tackled?!

Share it with us! We'd love to feature it in our newsletter!


A Loveliness of Ladybugs

Landed at the Library

on Halloween ! ! !

Oh my!!!



It’s easy to join or renew! 

Click HERE to print a membership form. Fill in the form and mail it with your check to OIGC Membership, P. O. Box 452, Eastsound, WA 98245.

OR . . . you can go to our website and fill in the online form and pay your membership fees online as well.

As an added bonus, names of new and renewing members are automatically entered into our monthly raffle drawing.

Membership Fees :
Individual : $25 / year
Couple : $35 / year

141 Members as of Nov. 4

Renewals -----------112

New Members -------15

Lifetime Members -- 8

Comp Members ------ 6


PRESIDENT: Nita Couchman


TREASURER: Tony Suruda

SECRETARY: Margaret Payne

PROGRAMS: Lene Symes


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