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New calendar takes whimsical look at gardening

By: Gloria Young Home & Garden
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For 19 years the Placer County Master Gardener calendar has provided daily tips and informative articles on everything you need to know about having a beautiful garden in the foothills. The 2012 20th anniversary edition continues that tradition and adds a little humor, too. “Rev Up Your Garden” offers a whimsical touch that chairwomen Pauline Sakai and Pauline Kuklis hope will provide the inspiration to reenergize your green thumb. “We say in our feature article that your garden may be tired or maybe your circumstances have changed,” Sakai said. “Maybe you originally designed the garden around your children. Maybe they are grown and away and you want to change it to something more benefiting for adults. Or for example, you may have had a sunny garden and now it is more shady as trees have grown and matured. Or there may be a circumstance where you are older and instead of spending more time in garden, want to spend less time.” The new calendar offers ideas and advice to accomplish all that. Planning for the Master Gardener calendar begins with a brainstorming session in February to come up with the theme for the following year. Each month addresses a different garden issue. “For example, (for January’s) Give Your Garden a Face Lift, we talk about different ways to improve an older garden that has gotten a little tired and how to tackle some problems in the garden,” Kuklis said. For September’s “To Be or Not: The American Lawn,” it’s about thinking beyond green grass. “You maybe don’t need lawn at all — just plant material,” Sakai said. Among the other topics are “Double your Veggie Harvest, Irrigation Overhaul, Gardens for Children and Labor Saving Gardening Tips. “We try to stimulate people’s ideas,” Sakai said. “These are things that don’t require a huge investment but can make a big change.” Another task is matching ideas with photos for each month. Sakai contributed a lot of her own photos for the calendar this year, including the one on the cover. “The photo on the cover was taken (during a trip to the) state Master Gardener conference in Santa Rosa,” she said. “On the way back we stopped at a nursery and they had these whimsical, cute vehicles and animals. … When we first thought about the (cover) photo, we were thinking muscle car and rev up the garden that way. But that would be a lot of plants to put around a real car.” The small decorative garden truck added just the right touch, she said. Although the theme and articles change from year to year, the master gardeners’ calendar always emphasizes sustainable gardening, using less chemicals, being water-wise, adding compost and enriching the soil. This year, the focus was on presenting all that information in a light tone. “We thought with all the seriousness of the economy, we wanted to do something with a little bit of humor in it,” Sakai said. “We didn’t want to do it in a preachy manner. It’s a ‘have fun while you are doing it’ slant.” For example, July’s topic, “Add Interest to your Garden,” includes a photo of a “terra-potta” man, a garden statue created with empty terracotta pots. “That photo was taken at the Santa Clara Master Gardener demonstration garden,” Sakai said. “I now have a terra-potta man in my yard because he is so cute. It is an example of taking ideas from the calendar and using them in your yard.” A constant in every edition of the calendar is the day-by-day seasonable advice. The daily tips provide another informative resource for gardeners. “The tips don’t change much from year to year, but there are a few small changes,” Kuklis said. “We just review them carefully.” The “Did you know?” items at the top of each month are new each year. The main objective of the calendar is primarily community outreach and education, Sakai said in an e-mail. It’s also a fundraiser to support the Placer County Master Gardeners’ other programs, “via equipment and resources for our Hotline, Speakers’ Bureau and Demonstration Garden and workshops,” she said. Sakai has been involved with the planning and production of the calendar for 10 years. It’s the second year for Kuklis, who completed the Master Gardener training program in 2009, The calendar is available in nurseries throughout Placer, Nevada and El Dorado counties, as well as through the Master Gardener office. The Master Gardeners will also sell the calendars at the Auburn Fall Home Show, Sept. 23-25 and the Mountain Mandarin Festival Nov. 18-20 at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn. Reach Gloria Young at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com. ---------- Where to find it For a list of vendors and more information on ordering the 2012 calendar direct from the Master Gardeners, see http://ucanr.org/sites/ucmgplacer/2012 Calendar