Published January 17, 2012
Volume 20, Number 1

Livermore Amador Valley Garden Club Cultivates Plants and Community Service    

The LAVGC maintains a Sensory Garden at the Pleasanton Senior Center.

If there is one thing that gardens confirm, it is the value of hard work. As an early 20th century botanist observed, plants “thrive because someone expended effort on them.” 

The effort entails not just brawn—although the gardener’s aching back is a frequent lament—but brain power as well. Everything works better when knowledge is added to the mix, as the profusion of resources for gardeners attests. Many of those resources are available to the community through the Livermore Amador Valley Garden Club (LAVGC), which has been guiding and inspiring local horticulturists since 1984. 

The club’s mission is an amalgam of four key activities: encouraging interest in all phases of home gardening, and promoting better horticultural practices, civic beauty, and conservation of natural resources. It pursues these goals through a variety of formats: monthly meetings with guest speakers, special interest groups and workshops, garden and nursery tours, hikes in wildflower habitats, and community service.

Right now members are busy propagating seeds and cuttings for themselves and for the annual plant sale, the nonprofit’s major fundraiser, held every April. According to club Co-President Tina Higashi, vegetables like tomatoes and peppers are slow growers, so it is useful to start them indoors, often with the help of seed mats or small greenhouses. The sale also gives the public the opportunity to purchase species known to thrive locally. “We will have edibles, ornamentals, trees and shrubs—all developed from gardens in this area, so we know they will grow fine here,” Higashi notes.

In keeping with the club’s service orientation, members pitch in to maintain three local specialty gardens: at Pleasanton Gardens, a retirement community; the edible organic garden at Camp Arroyo, the East Bay Regional Park that houses many children’s programs and camps; and at the Pleasanton Senior Center, which features a Sensory Garden specifically created by the LAVGC. Plants in the Sensory Garden have been selected for their appeal to one or more of the five senses, including sound. As Higashi points out, “Sound may seem an unusual attribute for a plant, but think of plants that provide a rustling sound when the wind blows, or ones that attract wildlife, such as hummingbirds and butterflies.”

Also on the club’s list of good works is the revival of the Boothill Project, a daffodil grove on Stanley Blvd. in Livermore that produces spectacular spring displays. In November a work party freshened up the cluster, first planted in 1994, with some 1,200 new bulbs.  Garden Angels are a crew of willing hands that deadhead, sweep, plant, and do general tidy up in the gardens of fellow members who are temporarily unable to perform those chores themselves. The club also contributes to an initiative reforesting fire-ravaged areas and recently made a gift funding a special species of summer lupines that support populations of the Mission Blue Butterfly.

The LAVCG normally meets monthly on the second Thursday at Pleasanton’s Alisal Elementary School, and guests are welcome. This year’s plant sale starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 21, in the parking lot of Amador Valley High School. For a full list of events, activities, and resources, go to www.lavgc.org. 

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