September ~ 2020
President's Message
Dear Garden Club Members,

Welcome to the very first Orcas Island Garden Club Newsletter! We know a newsletter can never replace the in-person meetings and social gatherings that we love, but we are a hardy group, resilient and resourceful -- still alive and well -- and we will keep communicating with one another and supporting our community in new and creative ways.

None of us imagined last March when we first cancelled our monthly gatherings that September would find us six months into quarantine mode. For many of us, our gardens have flourished as we’ve sought peace and solace in the joys of dirty hands, sore muscles, and the beauty and bounty of our gardens.

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. 

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!!!

Also, please feel free to reach out to any of your board members by clicking on the email links below.

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
A Fond Farewell
“More grows in the garden than the gardener sows.”
       Spanish proverb

Dear Garden Club members,

Our ability to gather as plant and garden lovers came to a halt in March, as our world took a pause. This past week, I was presented with a gift and beautiful memory book with kind sentiments from so many of you. Thank you for your kindness, generosity, and good will.

As I explore a new micro climate in my Boise garden, I will be thinking of you and the seeds of friendship sown in OIGC.

A fond farewell,
Linda Armstrong
*Photo by Steve Smith*
Our newsletter needs a name!!
Send your ideas to
This Month's Featured Webinar : Bumblebees
Submitted by Lene Symes, Program Chair

Tomatoes, blueberries, and eggplants are among the plants that require buzz pollination to set fruit. Bumblebees are champion buzz pollinators. If you are interested in learning more about bumblebees, there are excellent resources.

The Xerces Society gave a 4-hour webinar on the topic of the PNW Bumblebee Atlas -- a citizen scientist program designed to increase our understanding of where particular species of bees live and of their hibernation sites and nest sites. The webinar was divided into 4 modules that are posted on the Xerces YouTube channel. I found the entire webinar interesting but you can select individual modules to watch. For example, module 2 focuses on the ecology and conservation of bumblebees and module 4 on identifying bumblebees. Here is the link to the site:

The following link will take you to the Xerces Society blog that contains information about the life cycle of bumblebees. If you scroll down the page, you will find a link to a video of a bumblebee engaged in buzz pollination, titled Vibrating Bumblebee Unlocks a Flower's Hidden Treasure.

We'd love to hear what you thought.
Please send your comments and ideas for future webinars to:

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 off items 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.
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, to become a member, or to make a donation, please print the membership form from the link below and mail it in with your check. You could be the lucky winner of some fabulous sea salt. 
Thank you!

Master Gardeners Workshop Series
October 17 - 29, 2020
Registration Fee: $25.00
Registration Deadline: October 14, 2020
The SJ County Master Gardener Workshop 2020 will go virtual this year and will offer eight (8) one hour presentations as webinars through Zoom. Webinars begin on Saturday, October 17, and continue on Tuesdays and Thursdays through the end of the month. 

Professionals and Master Gardeners will share their knowledge, experience and beautiful photos of plants, flowers, birds and bees. The registration fee of $25.00 covers all eight lectures and the Workshop is open to all interested gardeners.

Topics to be covered in presentations include Hummingbird Habitat Gardens, Cut Flowers from the Garden, Bee Best!, Using Plant “Logic,” Fruit Trees 101, Fruit Tree Pruning, Greenhouse Gardening, and Raised Bed Gardening. Visit the Master Gardener website for more detailed information at

Registered participants will be granted access to all recorded presentations, excluding the keynote, from Thursday, Oct 29 to Nov 3rd. Participants will be sent a link to the recordings after the last Workshop Series presentation.

REGISTER HERE by October 14th
Garden Poetry
And Now It’s September,
    by Barbara Crooker
and the garden diminishes: cucumber leaves rumpled
and rusty, zucchini felled by borers, tomatoes sparse
on the vines. But out in the perennial beds, there’s one last
blast of color: ignitions of goldenrod, flamboyant
asters, spiraling mums, all those flashy spikes waving
in the wind, conducting summer’s final notes.
The ornamental grasses have gone to seed, haloed
in the last light. Nights grow chilly, but the days
are still warm; I wear the sun like a shawl on my neck
and arms. Hundreds of blackbirds ribbon in, settle
in the trees, so many black leaves, then, just as suddenly,
they’re gone. This is autumn’s great Departure Gate,
and everyone, boarding passes in hand, waits
patiently in a long, long line.
Getting to Know You: Jan Jacobson
Jan Jacobson is currently the Secretary of the OIGC and has been a member of the Club since about 2011 after moving to Orcas full time in 2010. Soon after joining, she was recruited to be the AV and publicity person, although she wasn't sure that AV was her strength. She was grateful when Cindi joined the club and took over those duties. Jan has served on the Board in a variety of positions over the last 9 years.

Jan's interest in gardening began at her grandparents' dairy farm where she stayed as a child during summer and school holidays. She especially loved the cows, and of course her Grandma had a large garden. As a young mother herself, Jan started her own garden, and though her lot was too rocky for it to be a big success, Jan didn't give up. Over the years, she has always had some plants to care for wherever she lived.

Jan's Orcas garden is fenced and is half veggies and half flowers and shrubs. She enjoys growing both. The veggie side is sunnier and has 2 apple trees. As the climate is cooler here and shadier, she finds that what grows well varies from year to year.

Jan loves hydrangeas (also tulips and dahlias). She planted the tall white hydrangea first -- possibly called Limelight. The blooms start out white with a hint of green and by season's end there are pink and lavender highlights. The dark blue hydrangea was given to her by a friend and when it was almost taken over by the white one, Jan took part of it and moved it a few feet away. Last year was the first year the lavender bloom came -- just one. This year it had about 5 blooms, which have gotten darker as the season has gone on.

Our thanks to Jan for her dedication to the OIGC and for sharing her story with us.
Positive Thinking - Garden Tour 2021
September Undertakings

HARVEST your herbs, fruits and veggies and share what you can’t consume with neighbors and others in need

SOW winter vegetables, lettuce, spinach, swiss chard and kale
TIDY UP by deadheading and trimming during these still warm and sunny days

AERATE & FERTILIZE your lawn to promote healthy roots

NET your garden pond so that autumn leaves don’t fall in

TAKE the last cuttings from geraniums, fuchsia and other bedding plants

COLLECT your favorite flowers to press and preserve for crafts

PURCHASE your spring-flowering bulbs now while the selection is the best and begin planting

DIVIDE your irises and peonies to allow them the time to become well rooted before winter

TREAT yourself by creating a Fall to Spring container that bursts with life over the course of the seasons with evergreens, layered bulbs and winter pansies

REFLECT & JOURNAL about what you’ve learned this year and changes to make next year
Made You Smile!

These two yellow squash joined forces under cover of broad prickly green leaves this summer in my garden. It's always fun to discover veggies that have grown in their own unique ways and shapes.

What unusual veggies have grown in YOUR garden?

Email your pictures and tell us your story for future newsletters:

Submitted by Nita Couchman
For your reading pleasure...
Animal , Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. This memoir educates and inspires! Kingsolver describes her family's experience of eating only their own or locally sourced food for a year. Each family member gets to choose one "specialty item" (I think I would go with coffee). Their motivation for gardening and supporting local farmers will resonate with many of our GC members. Kingsolver breaks the book into months and describes the challenges and rewards of the seasons: You Can't Run Away on Harvest Day:September, Hungry Months: February -March. Her husband adds sidebars of a more journalistic bent, describing global problems, activism and politics. Older daughter Camille adds recipes. And youngest daughter, Lily, with her chicken business, is just adorable. 

Submitted by Perri Gibbons
Here is one of Camille's recipes, tried and family approved: 


3/4 lb pkg of orzo pasta
1 chopped onion
garlic to taste
3 large zucchini
olive oil for saute
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or any hard yellow cheese

Bring 6 cups of water or chicken stock to a boil and add pasta. Cook 8 to 12 minutes.

Use a cheese grater or mandoline to shred zucchini. Saute briefly with chopped onion and garlic until lightly golden.

Add spices to the zucchini mixture, stir thoroughly, and then remove mixture from heat.

Combine with cheese and cooked orzo, salt to taste, serve cool or at room temperature.
Orcas Island Garden Club
P. O. Box 452
Eastsound, WA 98245

Newsletter Editors: Laura Walker & Nita Couchman