October ~ 2020
Did you notice our newsletter's new name???
Thank you for your suggestions.
President's Message
Dear Garden Club Members,

Welcome to the October newsletter! As you can see, we now have a newsletter name: THE ISLAND GARDENER. Thanks to everyone who submitted suggestions and helped us with your input.

This month’s issue focuses on getting our gardens ready for winter, reflecting on the past growing season, and thinking ahead to bulbs, bees and bats. We’re excited by the response we’ve had to our requests for newsletter content, and encourage you to keep your ideas coming our way. You can use the link at the end of this message to get in touch with us. We can’t wait to hear from YOU!!!

We’re delighted to welcome a number of new members as well as to thank those of you who have renewed your membership or made donations. Without last year’s Garden Tour to replenish our coffers, we appreciate your willingness to support the Garden Club and we’re making every effort to explore new ways to thrive.

Our vision for this monthly newsletter is to keep in touch with one another, to share information through webinars and websites, to get to know some of our members just a little better, to share some laughs, to keep informed about local events relating to gardening, and to give members an opportunity to share their gardening stories, pictures, and knowledge. 

The positive response we got from the first newsletter confirmed that we are on the right track, but we are always looking for ways to improve the newsletter and to provide content that members will find interesting and enjoyable. We would LOVE to hear from you with your ideas and questions for the newsletter or the Garden Club. Tell us what you like (or don’t like) about the newsletter; what you’d like to see that we haven’t covered; how we can make THE ISLAND GARDENER even better.

Click on the FEEDBACK & IDEAS link below to send us your comments, questions, gardening stories, and newsletter ideas. We are eager to hear from you!!!

May your gardens continue to be places of joy and serenity for you as we move into the cooler, darker days of Autumn.

Until we meet again!
Nita Couchman, President
Board Members


Nita Couchman
Lene Symes
Perri Gibbons
Karen Hiller
Sally Hodson
Laura Walker 
Jan Jacobson
Tony Suruda
Helen Huber
Linda Armstrong
This Month's Featured Webinar :
Burke Museum & Blue-Flowering Camas
The Burke Museum Native Plant Landscape:
Listening and Learning Together

In 2015 a team from Oxbow Farm and Conservation Center collected Camas seeds from a small island in San Juan County. Those seeds were planted. More than three years later, the resulting bulbs were transplanted to the Camas Meadow at the Burke Museum on the grounds of the University of Washington in Seattle.

The bulbs of blue flowering Camus were a staple food for tribal peoples, but only 5% of Camus prairies remain. When the bulbs were approaching readiness to be planted, elders from several tribes were invited to Oxbow. In the webinar the landscape architect for the project, the leader of the plant propagation team, and the Burke Museum tribal liaison describe the site and some of the preparatory work for the meadow. They show what the meadow looked like last summer and reflect on how their personal understanding of restoration and transformation is evolving as they consider the responses of the tribal elders to their work. The webinar was hosted by the Washington Native Plant Society.

If this presentation interested you, visit the
Washington Native Plant Society website
to find a list of their recorded webinars:

We'd love to hear what you thought.
Please send your comments and ideas for future webinars to:
Denise Beckwith
Sydni Crawford
Susan Goranson
Denise Gordon
Kate Johnson
Megan S. Kelly
Mindy Rowse
Nancy Stilger
Jen Taylor
Uuve Taylor
Lynn Thomerson
Vicki Twedell
Curtis Walker
Katherine Weatherford
Elyse Woodruff
THANK YOU to Renewing Members & for Donations
Linda Armstrong
Mariann Carrasco
Nita Couchman
Barbara & David Evans
Perri Gibbons
Cynthia Hawkins-Rahilly
Sara Hennessy
Karen Hiller
Leslie Hutchinson
Vanessa Julian
Priscilla Prescott & Bruce King
Sue Kirby
Christina Koons
Martha Kramer
Sue Lamb
Dianne Macondray
Ruth McBride
Wendy Mickle
Evangeline & Terry O'Sullivan
Anne Marie & Bernard Shanks
Frances Tanner
Julia Turney
Geri & David Turnoy
Margot Shaw
Myla Sherburne
Tony Suruda
Laura Walker
Judy Winer
Kate Yturri

For those of you who would like to support the Garden Club by paying a voluntary membership renewal (mandatory renewals have been waived for this year), by becoming a new member, or by giving a donation, your name will be entered in a raffle. 

We are going to raffle some lovely sea salts that would have been used in an August fermentation workshop which had to be cancelled. Drawings will take place in October, November and December for one item each month.

C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S !!!


The items to be raffled are:

Celtic Sea Salt 1 lb. 
(from France)

Sel Gris French Grey Sea Salt 13 oz
(from France)

Kosher Sea Salt from the Dead Sea 39 oz. 
(from Israel)
To renew your membership, become a member, or make a donation, please print the membership form from the link below and mail it in with your check. YOU could be the next lucky winner of some fabulous sea salt.
October 17-29, 2020: The SJ County Master Gardener Workshop 2020. If you registered for these workshops, now is the time to login and enjoy. Visit the Master Gardener website for more detailed information at

October 24, 2020: Washington Forest Owners' Online Field Day. 10:00 am - 3:00 pm. WSU Extension. Free - pre-registration required. Online Zoom workshops. Click here for more information and to register.
Garden Poetry
OIGC Website Updated
As the pandemic has changed the way we live and the way the Orcas Island Garden Club functions, we have updated our website. The site now reflects the changes that come with new safety and health precautions. These website updates have a clean, elegant look with:

  • a slightly larger version of our beautiful new logo on every page

  • the inclusion of our monthly Newsletter and Webinar on a beautifully designed page listed under the Resources tab

  • new and wonderful gardening resources in Other Resources located under the Resources tab

  • pictures of your dedicated board members listed under the About tab

  • a redesign that removes irrelevant or outdated information

Soon we will be offering online payment options for membership, ticket sales etc. We may not be able to meet, but we can still partake in the glory of gardening on this beautiful island we love and cherish. We hope you find some new gardening goodness within.
- Helen Huber, Communications Chair
Getting to Know New Members:

My husband and I moved to Orcas Island this summer (it will be permanent come spring). Gardening has always been a part of my life as it was cultivated by my mother and grandmas. I have learned and/or gardened in Singapore (childhood), the Rocky Mountain west, the Bay Area of California, and the last 22 years in Seattle. I also have had the privilege of being a historic museum director and working with volunteers on an historic garden.
My passion has always been roses, as challenging as they are. My middle name is Rose after my grandma and I gave that middle name to my daughter. Every year I planted a rose in my Seattle garden for my daughter. I ran out of room about 5 years ago as she is almost 21!

I am leaving my old garden with incredible peonies, roses, fruit trees and more. Our Orcas place has an incredible deer-fenced garden that has been neglected in the last decade that I plan to renovate, but the adjacent wilder landscape is also appealing to me. 
A bouquet of roses from
my Seattle garden.
Bats hold the key to garden pest control
Meet the Artist: Virginia Sides
Orcas Island SAFE Garden Tour 2021
To ensure a safe a garden tour...
  • Upon entry, everyone will be required to wear a mask and sanitize hands with a hand sanitizer station and free masks available at the welcome table. 
  • Safety guidelines for the garden tour will be posted at the entry of each garden.
  • Hand sanitizing stations will also be provided inside each garden.
  • Everyone will be asked to maintain 6 ft. social distancing outside and inside each garden.
  • Volunteers will limit the number of people who enter and tour the garden.
  • Each garden will have a one-way tour pathway marked with arrows to help with social distancing and offer the option of coming through the garden again.
  • Volunteers will receive training about our safe garden tour.
To create an enjoyable garden tour...
  • At each garden, guests, volunteers and garden owners will receive raffle tickets with the potential to win a plant at the end of each day.
  • Free plant starts will be offered to guests and volunteers at one or more gardens.
  • Free pre-packaged refreshments will be provided at another garden.
  • Garden art created by local artists may be displayed and available for purchase at another garden.
  • Live musicians may be invited to another garden.
  • Food vendors offering prepackaged lunches may be available at another garden.
We ask for your feedback to help us create an enjoyable and safe garden tour for 2021. Please look at the imaginary garden from the point of view of a volunteer, garden owner and guest. Email us your ideas and suggestions to help us design a garden tour that will enable everyone to feel safe and enjoy the experience.
Sally Hodson & Laura Walker, Garden Tour Co-Chairs
Asian giant hornet update
Garden Club member Tony Suruda is one of several hundred volunteers putting out traps for Asian giant hornets through the end of October. 

The traps are plastic bottles with an opening cut into the side, baited with O.J. and rice wine. The rice wine deters bumble bees and honey bees from entering. Volunteers empty the traps weekly and send the captured insects to WSDA entomologists in Olympia.  So far Asian giant hornets have been found only in Whatcom County and in British Columbia.

Click here to read about current research in Washington State: UPDATE
Click here to learn more about identification: IDENTIFICATION
October Focus
I love the cool, foggy early mornings on the island in October. Silent and crisp in solemn transition. If we are lucky, most days result in a burst of lovely afternoon sun. The soil is still supple and manageable. Preparation for next year’s potential abundance drives us outside to attend to and properly put our gardens to bed before the first frost. Here are a few thoughts on what to focus on this month:
O Onions and garlic can be planted for harvest next summer
C Clean and put away outside furniture
T Time to mulch to keep the weed at bay and protect roots from frost
O Order seed and garden catalogs to study by a warm fire
B Bulbs that flower in the spring can be planted and lift fragile bulbs such as dahlias
E Evergreen grasses and mums are ways to add color and interest to the fall garden
R Reduce irrigation and watering once leaves have fallen except on new plants

Kate's Friends -- the Unsung PNW Pollinators
Native bees and flies are important pollinators in the Pacific Northwest. They are often overlooked since we tend to focus on non-native honey bees from Europe for their agricultural importance, and bumblebees who are cute, social and easy to spot. Unlike honey bees and bumblebees, most native bees are solitary. They are also non-aggressive.
Mason Bee image by Jon Roberts

The best known native bee is the mason or orchard bee (Osmia). Mason bees are named for their mud-constructed tube-shaped nests for eggs. They are beautiful metallic green to teal, 1/4 - 3/4 inch in length and carry pollen on their abdomen. Many gardeners bring mason bees into their gardens in their larvae cocoons. The larvae awaken in spring and the bees mate, allowing for the females to collect nectar and pollen for their larvae. They pollinate our fruit trees and lay more eggs in gardener-provided tubes or natural areas in the landscape.

Sweat bees (Halictus) are named from a species that collects animal sweat. They are small (1/8 - 1/2 inch in length), dark and look a lot like flies. They are a bit more social than mason bees. Mothers and daughters often live and work together.  
Sweat Bee by Patty O’Hearn Kickham

Mining bees (Andrena) are named for excavating or mining nests underground. They are attractive, 3/4 inch in length with fuzzy orange mid-sections and carry pollen on their hind legs which makes them look like they are wearing chaps. 

Leafcutter bees (Megachile) cut sections of leaves or petals as part of nest making. They are black, 1/8- 1 inch in length with pale bands of hair and are distinguished from other bees by their squat appearance and large mandibles. They nest above ground and carry pollen under their abdomen with hairs called “scopa.”
Leafcutter Bee image by Deborah Bifulco 
Cuckoo Bee image by Refmo
Cuckoo Bees (Triepeolus ) are named after cuckoo birds because both lay eggs in other birds’ or bees’ nests. They are usually red or yellow, wasp-like in appearance, 1/5 -3/5 inch in length and less hairy than other bees. Their larvae hatch and then eat the larvae of their host. Since they don’t need pollen to feed their larvae, they are less hairy and not as important as pollinators.

Hover Fly
Tachinid fly
Blow fly
Nearly half of the 150 fly families visit flowers and are especially important pollinators in environments like alpine or subarctic where bees are less active. Hoverflies, also known as flower flies or syrphid flies (Syrphidae), are the champions, and number 6000 species who pollinate. Many mimic the appearance and behavior of bees and wasps, and are often mistaken for a stinging insect. However they don’t have the ability to sting.
There are many ways to attract these and other pollinators to your garden.

  • Provide a diverse mix of plants that will offer a succession of flowers, and thus pollen and nectar, through the whole growing season.
  • Use native plants, which are usually best for native bees. Research suggests native plants are up to four times more attractive to native bees than exotic (non-native) flowers. 
  • Plant heirloom varieties of herbs and perennials. 
  • Choose different colors of flowers. Bees are particularly attracted to blue, purple, violet, white, and yellow.
  • Plant same species of flowers in clumps rather than scattered throughout and, if space allows, at least four feet or more in diameter for each clump.
  • Include flowers with different shapes and sizes. 
  • Maintain a landscape free of poisonous pesticides.
  • Provide sheltered, undisturbed places for hibernation and overwintering by leaving wild areas -- fallen trees, leaves, water and mud or a more natural “untidy” environment.

Recommended resources:

Kate Yturri is a SJC Master Gardener and Orcas Island Garden Club member who aspires to improve her skills as an amateur entomologist. She has lived in Washington for 30 years and retired to Orcas Island almost 9 years ago. She loves gardening in her edible and ornamental gardens, but especially enjoys identifying and observing the insects that live in them.
Made You Smile!

Strawberries sprouting! In plants, vivipary occurs when seeds or embryos begin to develop before they detach from the parent. Here, the “seeds” turn into green shoots all over the surface of a strawberry.

What unusual things have grown in YOUR garden?

Email your pictures and tell us your story for future newsletters:
Garlic: The Stinking Rose
Garlic!! I love garlic!

You know how a recipe calls for a clove? Ha, no need for me to fear vampires! Plus, I find them ridiculously easy to grow. Plant them in the fall, weed them in the spring and water them occasionally. (Disclaimer: I’m not a Master Gardener, just sharing my experience. What has yours been?)

Start with garlic bulbs of your choice. I’ve heard good things about these mail order companies: and . I haven't been able to find an Orcas source -- maybe this would be a good niche market for an enterprising farmer next year?

I started out with a variety of garlic, but my palate isn’t delicate enough to tell the differences. Also, I've heard your soil/growing conditions affect the taste. I haven't had to buy for years. Plant the best and eat the rest. The standard time to plant is Halloween, with harvest around July 4th, but I’ve had luck planting them through November or before the ground freezes. Open up the bulb and plant the cloves individually, tip up, in well amended soil. Do deer eat them? They are supposed to not like the smell, but I would not put it past them! Fortunately, they make good companion plants. Grown with roses they're supposed to help deter pests.
You'll also want to think about soft vs. hard neck. I prefer hard. Soft neck is fun to braid, but it's smaller and milder. Nuts to that! Hard neck sends up scapes which make delicious pesto. Many years ago, I went to the Farmer's Market and saw them selling scapes. I ran home and took mine off my compost heap! You want to remove the scapes even if you don't use them, so they don't send up their energy to flower. On the other hand, soft necks store longer and that's what they sell in the stores. You could try both to see which you prefer!

If I could only grow a few vegetables in a small space, I’d make room for garlic.
Join the Stinking Rose Fan Club!
~ Submitted by Perri Gibbons
Gardeners Healing Salve Recipe
Make a gardeners healing salve using homegrown calendula, plantain, and comfrey. These herbs along with beeswax help to cleanse, nourish, heal, and protect.
This recipe is a simple herbal salve that any gardener can make. Not only that, but there’s a satisfaction in using herbs from the garden to heal skin ailments caused by gardening! No matter how careful we are, there’s no escaping the occasional nettle rash, insect bite, bruise, sprain, or scrape. This handmade gardeners healing salve will help cleanse and heal those mishaps.
Making this salve takes no time at all, once you have all of your ingredients prepared and should take about thirty minutes start to finish. That’s including cleaning up afterward.

The salve includes sweet almond oil for its lightness and skin conditioning properties. It also contains beeswax to firm it up but also to leave a protective layer on your skin. Together with the herbal extracts the finished salve soothes, heals, relieves pain and itching, and is an all-purpose
skin ointment.
View recipe here: Gardeners Healing Salve
A note about the author: Tanya Anderson of Lovely Greens is an organic gardener, soap maker, beekeeper, and green living enthusiast on the Isle of Man. Her blog and newsletter, Lovely Greens shares ideas for growing edibles and skincare herbs, and ways to creatively use your harvests in the home.
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?
Orcas Island Garden Club
P. O. Box 452
Eastsound, WA 98245

Newsletter Editors: Laura Walker & Nita Couchman