October ~ 2022



Nita Couchman

Fall is in the air! And what a lovely fall it's been. Days of just-right warmth for outdoor yard and garden work; nights filled with glorious moonlight.  

You'll find this issue filled with news of all things Autumn: Fall Festivals and Farm Tours, Fruits & Nuts, Pressed Flower Workshops, propagating plants, considering the benefits of leaving your gardens messy over the winter, and, of course, the fall membership drive.

Our Garden Tour team is putting out a call for ideas about gardens we might consider for next June's Garden Tour. We have a new feature about hidden garden gems on Orcas -- if you know of one, please let us know so we can share it in the newsletter. And Perri takes us into Wicked Plants and Killer Plants to get us in a Halloween mood.

Don't forget to join us on Wednesday (Oct. 19th at 10:30am via Zoom) for James Most's presentation about growing fruit and nut trees.

What better way to start your day than having your steaming mug in hand and Garden Club news to warm your heart!  

Happy Reading!

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!!!

OCT 19 (Weds.) @ 10:30 am via ZOOM

The Orcas Island

Garden Club

. . presents . . 





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




Leslie Hutchinson




donated by

Tony Suruda



Kate Yturri


Marie III

Dark Pink



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!!!


Paul Spriggs will be our November program speaker. 

We've had a change in our speaker schedule. On November 9 at 10:30 am, Paul Spriggs will give a presentation titled Cracks and Crevices: The Art of the Crevice Garden. The program will be presented via Zoom (thanks to hosting by Orcas Island Public Library). The recorded program will be available for viewing for 4 weeks after posting. READ MORE

Fall Festival Weekend at Camp Orkila -- October 29 and 30

Enjoy hot dogs, soup, chili and cider to warm you up. Fun, fall activities will include hay rides, pumpkin painting, cider-pressing, archery, climbing at the Climbing Tower, games, and much more!

Super Spooky Haunted Hay Ride on Saturday, October 29, 7 - 8:30 pm 

Free family events on Sunday, October 30, 1:30 - 5:30 pm. 

Located at:  484 Camp Orkila Road, Eastsound, WA 98245.

Pressed Flower Workshops ~ Members Only events

A current Garden Club member requested a flower pressing workshop, and Board Member/Treasurer Tony Suruda stepped up to the plate. A self-confessed gadget geek, Tony tried several different microwave presses, experimented with temperature and time to find techniques to share with workshop participants.

The workshop brought back fond memories for Debra of pressing flowers as a youngster. She has guests coming in November and is making plans to stage a private workshop of her own! 

Jo has been pressing flowers in books already, but wanted to up her flower pressing game. Did she ever! Other participants were unabashedly cribbing some of her ideas.

Participants receive a bag of goodies to continue mounting flowers at home after the workshop inspiration. (Debra's hydrangeas and press not included)

Members, look for an announcement for upcoming Flower Pressing Workshops open to members who have renewed for the 2022-23 season.

A peek at the 2022 Orcas Farm Tour

Old or young, who doesn't enjoy petting the goats at Warm Valley Farm ? !

Toe Tapping music makes sampling cider even more fun at Slanted Apple Farm

Happy as a pig in mud to visit the Lum farm

Steve from Fir Peace is energized to show off plants from one of the new Orcas Community Participatory Agriculture (OCPA) gardens. There are now FIVE !!!

This is Slanted Apple Farm. They had this wonderful edible and flower garden to stroll through. Loved the sign.

Lisa is the new head gardener at Doe Bay. Her background is in agricultural growing and she's having a blast learning and meeting new people.

GORDON SKAGIT FARMS .... a Fun Fall Destination

by Helen Huber

October is the perfect time to visit Gordon Skagit Farms, in nearby Mt. Vernon. This family farm has been around since 1969, and the family continues to run all aspects of its operation, bringing decades of fall joy to all who visit. Eddie Gordon’s artworks can be discovered throughout the farm, bringing even more visual beauty to an outstanding experience. 

With 111 varieties of pumpkins, squash and gourds, there are so many ways to “bring fall’s abundance into your home and onto your plates.” They're all artfully arranged on wooden shelves, fruit crates, trucks, and farm machinery by size, or color, or shape. Everywhere you look is another joyous moment for your eyes.

Extremely reasonable prices are posted either by the pound or by the piece. Helpful folks can point you to the best pumpkin for baking or for cooking, depending on if you want the squash to keep its shape (think curries, side dishes) or if the pumpkin/squash will end up puréed in a baked item. A variety of ornamental kale, grasses, corn stalks, and wreaths are available for home decoration. Additionally, there is an apple orchard for your picking pleasure and 8 acres of sunflowers that dance with the sun and wind.

The farm is open in October from 9-6. Their address is 15598 McLean Road, Mt. Vernon, WA 98273. This is the stuff memories are made from.



As leaves begin to fall and the weather cools, our gardens are getting a much-deserved rest. For the Garden Tour team, our attention turns to planning next summer’s Garden Tour. Our first task is to find some wonderful Orcas gardens to share with garden lovers next June. We’d like to invite all of you to become garden sleuths and 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:

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

  • Gardens should offer some of the following:

  • 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)

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.  


Sally Hodson --

Laura Walker --

PROJECT:  Propagating Scented Pelargoniums

by Laura Walker

Chocolate mint, pineapple, lemon balm, peppermint, rose or nutmeg….these are just a few of the over 250 varieties of scented geranium. This photo is an apple scented one ~ Pelargonium adoratissimum. It is easy to fall in love with their unique smell and beautiful ornamental leaves.  Just stroke their leaves and you will be rewarded with their fragrance.  

These Pelargoniums are easy to grow and hardy to Zone 8, but in my experience, they do best if protected over the cold months.  It’s time to bring them inside to enjoy them as a house plant or find a cozy spot for them in your greenhouse.

This year I took cuttings to create even more. It’s easy.  Give it a try!  Choose a sturdy stem with healthy leaves.  Snip 4-6 inches below stem tip with clean, sharp pruners  and cut just below a node.  Remove 2 or 3 lower leaves and any flower or leaf buds.  Place stem in clean glass jar filled with water.  Place on sunny windowsill that maintains 65-75 degrees and change the water daily.  In about 4 weeks you should see roots forming.


-- Wicked Plants and Killer Plants

Reviewed by Perri Gibbons

With Halloween around the corner, I took a walk on the dark side of gardening . I'll admit, I picked these up due to a somewhat morbid curiosity, but what really makes these worthy reads is the opportunity to educate ourselves. It's good to be reminded of the very real danger posed by some of even the most common plants.

Wicked Plants covers the alphabet starting with Aconite and ending in Yew plants. There are useful groupings, like house plants, common garden plants, and flowers you might find in bouquets. Some of the "wicked" plants listed seem a bit questionable ... skunk cabbage, figs?! ... but it does contain a wide variety of plants which will pique people's interest. 

And if your interest blossoms so that you must own your own deadly plants, check out Killer Plants. This is an owner's manual for growing and caring for Flytraps, Pitcher Plants and more. Aside from learning these plants are not easy to grow, I also enjoyed the historical references and trivia bits. The book I read was purchased with funds donated by OIGC honorary member, Hazel O'Brien, and I can't help but think she would have gotten a kick out of that. 

Wicked Plants is available on Washington Anytime Library online. 

Killer Plants can be found at the Orcas Library



by Robert Herrick

A sweet disorder in the dress

Kindles in clothes a wantonness;

A lawn about the shoulders thrown

Into a fine distraction;

An erring lace, which here and there

Enthrals the crimson stomacher;

A cuff neglectful, and thereby

Ribands to flow confusedly;

A winning wave, deserving note,

In the tempestuous petticoat;

A careless shoe-string, in whose tie

I see a wild civility:

Do more bewitch me, than when art

Is too precise in every part.


Have you ever gone to visit someone's place on Orcas and discovered a unique or whimsical garden spot hidden away from the public eye?  That's exactly what happened for Garden Club member Ginger Moore, who spoke with the owners and took some pictures to share with us.

We love the idea of members sharing garden discoveries with the rest of us and hope other readers will be inspired to send in YOUR special finds.

Our first entry features a charming garden in the North Beach neighborhood. The owners turned what could have been a problem into a garden highlight.

Damon Scott and Karin McNulty are responsible for creating this gleeful riot of colors.

There was an existing standing tree trunk that they planted the top of, then Damon found part of another tree trunk that he used to create a border for the garden and they planted both ends of that.

Next he took a large downed branch and snugged it between their fence and the standing tree trunk and he fashioned baskets out of wire and dried moss and attached them to the branch and planted them with nasturtiums and lobelia.

What a creative and inspiring result!

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


by Helen Huber

There were some nuts in my childhood: some were family, most were candy-coated peanuts in Cracker Jack boxes, and some were pale, brown, wrinkled orbs in Aunt Manya’s wooden bowl. These were called walnuts, and you could hurt yourself trying to get inside. 

Our nut-piercing arsenal included a metal elbowed tool that didn’t appear too dangerous. . .but tools and nuts could be deceiving. My limited nut experience lent the impression that nuts were sweet-—and these walnuts were most definitely not sweet. In fact, after all that work opening them, prying out the booty from its cozy shell bed, you were left with a nut that was dry, not worth the effort, that I didn’t love. 

The walnuts were fun for rolling-with-your-nose games, and my sister and I found many ways to entertain ourselves with the walnuts while the adults chatted in Yiddish. 

Now, many decades later, I’ve made my peace with walnuts and a wide variety of other members of the nut world that I include in regular recipe rotation. I’m sharing some of my favorite options for you. 

Enjoy.  Experiment.  Roll with what happens.  Goodness will come.


Fruit & Nut Crisp
Fruit & Nut Salads
Fried Nuts


should it stay or should it go?

by Laura Walker

"Darling you got to let me know.  If I go there will be trouble, if I go it will be double.  So come on and let me know.   Should I stay or should I go?"   The Clash

Popular garden blogs and magazines declare it’s time to tidy up your yard, put those gardens to bed, cut off unsightly flower heads, remove debris that may welcome voles and build up that compost pile with the shriveled remains of this year's unharvested edibles.  Yet I observe the frenetic activity of bees, birds, and insects right now.  How do I care for the critters busily getting ready for hibernation?  What will the birds do that decide to winter over in my yard without refuge?  What would be detrimental to leave that might affect spring growth and the needs of those early pollinators?  With an intriguing subject in hand, off I go to enlist some advice from a few experts on what should stay or go in the fall garden. 

My dear friend, Margaret Payne is a year-round cottage gardener who I respect immensely.  Gardening never stops for a season, yet, in the fall she gives her garden a break to gradually lose its leaves with many turning beautiful colors and to settle into cooler weather.  She loves watching plants transform into completely different and lovely forms -- like the pods of Albion or commonly known as Love-in-a-Mist, as well as the petal free seed heads of Echinacea or Cornflower.  She emphasized that she never cuts her flowers back until early spring, allowing wildlife to nestle into a safe and cozy environment showing deep respect for her plants and the habitat she has created.

A favorite book of mine is titled, The Humane Gardener by Nancy Lawson, in which she discusses the aspiration of gardeners to transform their landscape out of compassion for animals, plants and themselves. She advises to plant for all seasons and succession plant to ensure no one goes hungry.  Providing a variety of flower shapes accommodates diverse diners.  Buy plants that wildlife recognizes, such as native wildflowers, grass, trees, shrubs and semi-evergreen vines that provide food and cover for birds in the winter.  Leave branches and spent flowers to sustain animals through the lean season and well into the spring.  Proceed carefully in the spring since bees might still be nesting in the pithy stems.  Protect these larvae by breaking the stalks into foot-long pieces and scattering them under shrubs.  

One of the first individuals I thought would have both opinion and scientific knowledge on this subject was Russel Barsh, the founder and Director of Kwiáht, an organization ‘uniquely situated to help islanders find a healthy balance between people, plants and wildlife’.  Fortunate for the Garden Club, Russel is a frequent contributor to our newsletter and has presented at many programs in the past.  He had four very specific wildlife concerns to share over the ‘clean-up’ of the garden at this time of year. 


Articles from The National Garden Association addressed this topic.  Andrew Bunting, Vice President of Horticulture, selectively cleans up the garden.  As the first frosts arrive, plants often turn black, brown, or even collapse. “Generally, if a plant is still ornamental into the colder weather, I will leave it up for the winter while also providing a much-needed habitat for overwintering pollinators.” Secondly, he encourages collecting fallen leaves, crushing and then returning them to beds, since they are a great source of soil nutrition, can act as a natural mulch for your garden, and are beneficial to wildlife.  Patt Kasa, the NGA Regional Reporter from the Pacific Northwest, suggests that “cucumber vines, squash vines, and the dried remains of tomato and bean plants are most likely to harbor plant disease. If you allow this disease-carrying residue to remain on the soil's surface, there is a good chance the organisms will live through the winter and infect your new plants in the spring.”

Master Gardener, Jenny Harris had plenty to share. "I don’t really like the phrase 'put the garden to bed.' The garden is still happening under the ground, in the soil, in the dormant plants, in the decaying plant matter. LIFE."

"'Bed' suggests sleeping and resting, and while I understand that we say that because of our focus on flowers, green growth and fruit, and we often retreat inside during this time of darker, colder and wetter days, I am not sure I would put our ideas of “productivity” onto plants, other life-forms or soil." 

"But I do think it is important to stop and ask ourselves WHY we are doing something in the garden such as cutting down dead material, carting off old plants, flowers, stems and fruit; in whatever way 'tidying up.' Because I think more often than not we are doing this for an aesthetic value and not for the benefit of any plant or animal. Let’s just be honest. Nothing wrong with tidy per se but tidy is not life-giving in the ways that leaving plants to decay and decompose with their partners, in place, is. We can rationalize putting it all in the compost pile and that is no bad thing but allowing things to decay in the place, on or in the soil in which they grew, is easier and more part of the community you are creating by planting them in the first place."  

"'Leave the leaves' campaign has gained momentum in recent years and it has a lot of good thoughts. Leaving dead stems and old flowers up all winter has great benefit also to overwintering creatures and often looks very good in the winter if we let ourselves see differently.  Leaving leaves and stems is a good thing. And let’s not get too worried about diseases. I think we get too worried about diseases and as we are now re-learning about our gut microbiome, having a diverse and multitudinous population of microbes everywhere is true health."

Final thoughts: "Question yourself as to why you are 'cleaning up' and do so with awareness."






ANSWER:  Squash

ANSWER:  Because she had a pumpkin for a coach

ANSWER:  To give 'em pumpkin' to talk about

ANSWER:  Hollow-een



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

121 Members as of Oct. 15

Renewals -------------93

New Members -------14

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