Chapter Chat - January 2024

Next Chapter Meeting
President's Message
Learning Garden Update
Education Garden Update
WCMGA 2024 Events
Upcoming Events
MGs of Note
DEI Update
Grow 1 / Give 1
Book Review
Tuesday, January 2, 2024
7:00 - 8:00 PM PDT - Free Webinar, Open to All
Registration Required
8:00-9:00 PM PDT - Members Meeting
The Washington County Master Gardener Association invites you to learn about growing tomatoes and peppers from seed.  The webinar will be led by Douglas County Master Gardener Bruce Gravens who will discuss tomato and pepper seeding, up- potting, soil preparation, planting, sun protection, harvest, and storage.

Bruce Gravens joined the Master Gardener program in 2001 in Santa Clara County, CA.  He was born into a multi-generation farming family and has grown vegetables as far back as he can remember. While a member of the Santa Clara County Master Gardeners, Bruce managed the tomato and pepper trials and seed saving program as well as the pepper seedling effort for their plant sale.

He relocated to Roseburg, OR in 2014 and joined the Douglas County Master Gardeners.  He now manages the tree, woody plants, and sedum plants for the DCMGA plant sale and heads up their sustainable composting project.  His 7,000 sq. ft. home garden supplies vegetables to a local retail shop as well as garlic to a local pizza parlor.
For Christmas I received the cutest little six-inch chainsaw. And it cuts limbs up to six inches in diameter! I hope you each received something equally wonderful.

I’ve been working with the Board on our State of the Chapter Report for 2023. I am impressed with both our accomplishments and our opportunities. We will share it with you soon.

Here’s hoping we all have a wonderful 2024.

And as always, thanks for everything you do to support the Washington County Master Gardeners and sustainable gardening.
The Learning Garden volunteers are taking a well-deserved break during the cold winter months. Fall crops planted by the Vegetable Garden team are growing well and almost ready to harvest. This was a successful experiment to see what would grow in November – January.

Learning Garden regular work parties will resume in February on Thursday mornings. For more information contact Steve Kister or Robin Burnham
In the Garden

Winter has descended upon our gardens, revealing unique forms and colors usually obscured by leaves and fair weather. Some conifers, such as Pinus mugo ‘Carstens’ or the once rare Pinus contorta var. latifolia ‘Chief Joseph’ shine as beacons with their bright yellow foliage. Some Cryptomeria species turn bronze, prompting initial distress to gardeners unfamiliar with their annual winter coat.

Heathers may brighten with the cold, but few so glorious as Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly.’ 
And observant folks will be delighted with the signs of winter bloomers preparing to display their cloaks of color. This Pieris cultivar will soon burst into bloom.
Other Happenings
  • We continue with our “Winter Gardening” calendar consisting of weekly check-ins at the garden. If anyone else strolling through the garden notices something amiss, please contact Susan Albright or Sue Ryburn.
  • We have 11 In the Garden Series (IGS) classes scheduled at the Ed Garden in 2024. Thanks to everyone who has volunteered to share their knowledge! Volunteer Coordinator, Larina Hoffbeck, reported that we have filled all the slots for the IGS setup and take down tasks through June 2024. Thanks to all who have volunteered to help our IGS events run smoothly.
  • The January Education Garden Team meeting will be held January 10, (6 PM- 7 PM) via Zoom.  Please watch for the invitation and agenda. The meeting will be on the 2nd Wednesday in January. We are working around the Master Gardener Trivia meeting which is scheduled for the 3rd Wednesday next month.
  • Master gardeners’ calendars may look a bit lighter in the winter but there are many things going on behind the scenes. Look for progress on planning for Gardenfest and the Education Garden Open Garden in upcoming newsletters!
  • If you would like to be added to our Education Garden email list, contact Susan Albright or Sue Ryburn.
Happy winter gardening!
WCMGA 2024 Events
Each year, many of our Master Gardners work on planning events for the following year. Once again, our group has managed to complete planning for the upcoming year, 2024. You, and the general public, can go directly to our website events page anytime to see what is coming up. But the website isn't the only means of promulgating our schedule.

A huge thanks to Susan Albright who puts together multiple formats of a master calendar that can be printed and posted. Copies are posted at each of our gardens, libraries, and many other places to let folks know what's coming up. A picture of the "one pager" snapshot of the year that Susan created appears below. If you would like one for yourself, copies will be available at the Education Garden, the Learning Garden, and the OSU Extension Office.

Another huge thanks to all of our MGs who have volunteered to bring evidence-based gardening education to our community!
Washington County Master Gardener Assoc. invites you to Mason Bees 101.  This free public class addresses the identification and natural history of the mason bee. The class will be led by Ron Spendal,
 OSU Extension MG Volunteer.  Attendees will gain a solid understanding of the characteristics and activities of mason bees and why they are one of the earliest and best pollinators in our area.

Ron Spendal is an OSU Master Gardener who has been researching and educating on mason bees for over 15 years. He operates educational mason bee displays across Washington County and runs highly sought-after courses on mason bee management through the Washington County Master Gardener Association. Ron designs and builds his own equipment. He conducts research in conjunction with Oregon State University and Montana State University. Ron’s work with mason bees has been featured on the Oregon Field Guide program on OPB.

For more information:
Join the Washington County Master Gardener Assoc. to learn about the native plants that thrive in the PNW garden, how to naturescape in support of wildlife and pollinators, and consider the possibilities the Backyard Habitat Certification Program offers through its customized yard assessment. (This class will be given again on 10/26/24) The class will be led by Robin Carpenter and Jack Shorr, OSU Extension MG Volunteers.

Robin was certified as a Master Gardener in 2022.   Her interests lie in native plants and the guidance provided by the Backyard Habitat Certification Program. She also volunteers at the Portland Audubon Society and as a Master Recycler.

Jack became a MG in 2006 and a Master Naturalist in 2012.  He volunteers with the Backyard Habitat Certification Program, the Master Gardener Speakers Guild and the WCMGA Education Garden at the PCC Rock Creek Campus.

For more information:
To begin the new year, we recognize Tamara Newton-Baker (MG 2015) as January’s WCMGA Master Gardener of Note. 

Tamara volunteers with Steve Kister to maintain a beautiful Companion Plants area in the Learning Garden.  She is also the Learning Garden’s liaison with THRPD (Tualatin Hill Recreation and Parks District) at Jenkins Estate, home to the Learning Garden.  Tamara’s insights and steadfast negotiation with THRPD management last year resulted in WCMGA’s continued access to the Jenkins Greenhouse.  Following the pandemic, THPRD considered ‘mothballing’ the greenhouse and discontinuing WCMGA use.  Tamara successfully negotiated not only WCMGA’s continued use but also THRPD commitment to provide heat for winter (50˚F minimum), access to water, and other support to maintain basic environmental conditions throughout the year.  WCMGA’s Propagation Team is thrilled to use this space for overwintering temperature-sensitive plants, growing spring plant stock and access to the outside ‘secure’ holding area for hardy plant storage.  This greenhouse access is proving critical to WCMGA’s expanded production of plants to be sold at Gardenfest, our chapter’s major fundraiser.

Thank you, Tamara, for all your hard and heartfelt work towards these efforts!
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Vocabulary
January 2024: Equity vs Equality
Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
The members of the WCMGA DEI committee recognize that the terms and phrases used when discussing topics related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion may be unfamiliar or confusing to many people.  Definitions may also change over time.  Since gardening is for everyone, we’d like to help foster understanding of DEI vocabulary with our members and other readers of Chapter Chat and the WCMGA website. 
Starting in January, we’ll feature a different phrase or term each month throughout 2024 on our webpage here:
We hope you’ll check back each month for new words and phrases as well as examples of how Master Gardeners can incorporate these concepts into our work with the public and with our own members.
Happy New Year and here’s to more equitable gardening in 2024!

3rd Annual Grow1/Give1Campaign - Help Wanted!

WCMGA members distribute MG grown tomato and jalapeño starts to limited income families in Washington County. This year we will be handing out the starts in several events from May 22 to June 5.
Right now we need your help with a variety of different short-term tasks such as:
  • Joining a FertilizerFill group to fill small 1oz fertilizer bags from donated 2lb bags
  • Reviewing/editing the information we give to the families
  • Participating in a grower group and donating at least 12 starts (We provide the seeds)
  • Participate in the fun part – make someone’s day by handing out plant starts
Want to help, but not sure how? Just contact Dan McDonald ( or Leslie Ray (
“Illustrated” and “practical” as used in the title of this book are apt descriptions of Patty Cassidy’s book, her first. “Seniors” as used in the title may be somewhat limiting to readers as many of the ideas are good practices for gardeners of all ages. She gives us an overview of reasons to consider when deciding to stay put or move on to other pastures and some ideas of alternatives we could consider. She covers considerations we can give to practicalities, disabilities, our preferences, and what to plant. There is advice for safe and sound practices, equipment, and techniques for gardening covering tools, soil, digging, seed sowing, transplanting, fertilizers, transporting, harvesting, taking care of our tools, and more. She gives examples of different types of gardens including indoor gardens and information about specific plants. The topics include lovely photographs to add detail to the information.
Throughout her explanations of various activities in the garden, Patty details tools which could be helpful for any gardener. Her information made me think of a parallel between “right plant, right place” and right tool, right situation.  
Patty worked as a horticultural therapist for assisted-living elders and seniors and abused and neglected children in Portland. She now lives in Central Oregon and is a Master Gardener. Her care and regard for people of varying capacities is apparent in her writing, as is her love of gardening and all its benefits no matter where we are in our lives.
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