December in the Garden: The Gifts of the Season & Monthly Calendar of Regional Gardening Events


The first real winter storm and its life-renewing precipitation has now visited our region – most likely bringing some inconvenience, but also much blessing as the season turns on its cycle from the fullness of fall to the peaceful spareness of winter.

Most gardeners I know have been slowly getting ready for winter – top dressing their borders and beds with a good compost or mulch – chopped up oak leaves and grass clippings are readily available at my house. Putting these amendments down now helps to insulate your plants from the coming temperature and humidity fluctuations, but also allows the winter rains to slowly leach the nutrients out of them and down into your soil, reducing the amount of digging in you have to do come spring. I recently attended a talk on preparing your garden for winter given by Barbara Battaglia of Mendons Nursery in Paradise and she recommend applying a 0-10-10 fertilizer to just about all of your plants other than citrus right now as well. This level of fertilizer will give the root systems of your plants a boost for their winter work beneath the soil without adding any nitrogen, which would promote unwanted green growth. Pay attention to frost warnings and protect tender plants - many people recommend twinkle lights on citrus, frost cloth or moving what you can under house eaves or into garages or outbuildings until the danger has passed.

As long as the soil is workable, we are still in a really good window for the planting of new perennials, shrubs and trees – and bare root season will be in full swing by January.

Cutting back of perennials and edibles that have run their course continues – although I like to leave seed heads on many of my herbaceous perennials for the birds to be able to snack on weather permitting. My hummingbird feeder is now up and active again as many of my hummingbird nectar plants have finished their bloom time, but Anna’s Hummingbird our overwintering resident – is still hungry. Watching a busy hummingbird at the feeder outside of my kitchen window is one of many gifts of the season.

Gifts of the season is on most people's mind this year. My favorites, you ask? You just can't go wrong with something for your favorite gardeners from one of their local bookstores, cooking stores or independent nurseries. A gift certificate, a gift subscription to a gardening publication or gardening class series, some new gloves, a decadent gardening book. A big new garden pot that they would not buy for themselves. Even something as little as getting your favorite gardener's garden clippers cleaned and sharpened for the coming season will go a long way to showing you that you love them. Gifts of the season is perhaps the overriding theme in the calendar of gardening events this month - look through the events for wonderful opportunities to make gifts of your own, or consider - all purchases of Jewellgarden's lovely, botanically inspired and locally produced items support regional gardening and plant programming including the production of In a North State Garden. May the gifts of your season be those of peace, time with people and in places that remind you of the beauty of the world in which we live - and which we work and hope to make an even better place. Happy Holiday and Happy New Year to you wherever you may garden.


December 3 - Chico: Chico State Campus Tree Tours with Wes Dempsey and Gerry Ingco 10 am - 11:45 am. Meet in front of Bidwell Mansion in Chico, on the Esplanade for this informative walks to see and hear about the marvelous old trees on the mansion grounds and adjacent university campus. Over 200 species of woody plants. Many of these trees date back to the original landscaping by Bidwell in the late 1800s. Parking is free. Leaders: Wes Demspey: 530-342-2293; Gerry Ingco: 530-893-5123

December 4 – Redding: McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at Turtle Bay: Wreath Making Workshop 9 AM - 12 noon. Floral designer and instructor Darlene Montgomery leads this creative and fun holiday workshop. Each participant will create their own fresh, full-size holiday wreath for the front door or family room. All materials provided. Space is limited to 15 participants (adults and youths 16 or older). Pre-registration required, call 242-3108 to pre-register. Members $35, nonmembers $40 Turtle Bay Visitor Center – JSS Classroom More info: 530-242-3178 or

December 4 – Redding: McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at Turtle Bay: Charlie Rabbit and Friends 9:30 AM. An interactive program in the Gardens (or Greenhouse in rain) for children, their siblings, parents and grandparents. Free with Park or Garden admission. Meet at West Garden Entrance. Take N. Market Street, turn on Arboretum Drive. Take the right fork. Parking lot and entrance are on the left. More info: 530-242-3178 or

December 4 - Chico: Mt Lassen Chapter Cal Native Plant Society - Planting Day: Woodson Bridge Valley Oak Restoration 9:30 am Meet at Chico Park & Ride (Hwy 32 & 99) or at 10 am the kiosk of Woodson Bridge State Recreation Area. Bring Lunch, Water and wear gardening gear. We will be planting Valley Oak acorns in a new riparian area on the Sacramento River presently plagued with invasives. Nature walk through the new natural area included. Leaders, Jim Dempsey 530-846-1435 and Wes Dempsey 530-342-2293

December 4 - Redding: Wyntour Gardens: WYNTOUR WONDERLAND ANNUAL HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE You are cordially invited to attend Wyntour Gardens’ Annual Holiday Open House celebration to kick off the Holiday Season. Enjoy a nice cup of warm apple cider and munch on delicious goodies, while strolling through their beautiful holiday displays, created with a different theme every year by George & Carol Winter and their elves (staff). Make this one of your Holiday Traditions! Open 8am to 5pm. 8026 Airport Rd Redding, CA 96002-9445 (530) 365-2256

December 4 - Redding: Wyntour Gardens: KIDS HOLIDAY PLANTING PARTY 10am to Noon: Join our annual KIDS HOLIDAY PLANTING PARTY, during our Annual HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE. This has become a Holiday Tradition for many of our families. Kids get to plant a holiday basket of pansies to take home and enjoy for the holidays or give as a gift. While you are here, check out our displays and enjoy a goodie or two. This is a great way to kick-off the Holiday Season and fun for the whole family! 8026 Airport Rd Redding, CA 96002-9445 (530) 365-2256

December 4 – Davis: UC Davis Arboretum: Guided Tour: California's Native Plants 11 a.m., Buehler Alumni & Visitors Center, Old Davis Road, UC Davis. Tour the Mary Wattis Brown Garden focusing on plants native to California’s Central Valley. Learn more about these plants and why they thrive in our regional ecosystem. The free tour will leave from the Buehler Alumni & Visitors Center, across from the Mondavi Center on Old Davis Road on the UC Davis campus. Free parking is available in Visitor Lot 1 and the parking garage south of the Mondavi Center. For more information, please call (530) 752-4880 or visit

December 5 - Redding: Shasta Chapter Cal Native Plant Society: Mushroom Field Trip 9 AM City Hall Parking Lot. Join Susan Libonati, botanist and mycologist, and Ken Kilborn for a mushroom outing. The destination will be announced when we meet; we may drive half an hour out of Redding. You may bring along your own mushrooms for identification. Meet at 9 AM in the Redding City Hall parking lot, on the back (south) side of the building, next to Parkview Avenue. The City Hall is located at 777 Cypress Avenue—just west of the Cypress Avenue bridge over the Sacramento River. Bring lunch and water, and be prepared for cold, rain, and no facilities. Call Susan (347-4654) or Ken (221-2339) for details.

December 5 - Chico: Mt Lassen Chapter Cal Native Plant Society - Field Trip: Centerville Flume 9 am Meet at Chico Park & Ride (Hwys 32 & 99). Bring lunch, water, insect/sun protection, and money for ride sharing. Wear hiking gear. On our annual stroll along one of Chico's most delightful walks, we will see the last of summer's blooms (lessingia, snapdragon, camporum) and the first of the winter ones (manzanita, bay, mistletoe). We have recorded more than 24 species in bloom along here over the past years. Leaders, Gerry Ingco 530-893-5123 and Wes Dempsey 530-342-2293

December 5 - Chico: The Plant Barn: Wreath Making Workshop 1 pm and 3 pm. Reservations required and filling fast - make this your annual holiday tradition - fun, fun, fun with your favorite and festive flower floozy elves. 406 Entler Avenue. Chico, CA 95928-9579 (530) 345-3121

December 8 – Davis: UC Davis Arboretum: Guided Tour: Walk With Warren 12 p.m., Gazebo, Garrod Drive, UC Davis Arboretum Join Arboretum Superintendent Emeritus Warren Roberts for a lunchtime stroll in the UC Davis Arboretum on Wednesday, November 10. Enjoy the crisp fall weather, explore the pleasures of the autumn garden, and get a little exercise. Meet at noon at the Gazebo, on Garrod Drive on the UC Davis campus. There is no charge for the tour. Parking is available for $6 in Visitor Lot 55. For more information, please call (530) 752-4880 or visit

December 9 - 11 – Red Bluff: Red Bluff Garden Club Holiday Scholarship Boutique 216 Pine Street, the Victorian on the corner of Pine and Rio. The wreaths, swags, center pieces, table & mantel runners, are made from fresh pine, fir, redwood, cedar, arborvitae, holly, magnolia, laurel, bay and other plant material that will last the season. All of the fresh plant material provides the smells of Christmas even if an artificial tree is being used. Beautiful ribbons, cones, berries and other colorful dry material are used to decorate the wreaths and table designs. These handmade wreaths are priced two to three times less than the wreaths which can be purchased from catalogs and the internet because the greens come from the gardens of members and willing friends and neighbors. If you have a tree or shrub that needs to be pruned and you would like to contribute the pruned plant material for the wreaths call 527-4578. For more info:

December 11 – Redding: McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at Turtle Bay: Family 2nd Saturday - Holiday Festival 10:30 AM - 3:30. Get in the holiday spirit and create holiday-themed crafts or a gift for someone special while enjoying a festive atmosphere! Spread the holiday cheer and make your own peanut butter pinecone bird feeder. A merry event for the whole family. Free with Park admission. Paul Bunyan's Forest Camp More info: 530-242-3178 or

December 11 – Davis: UC Davis Arboretum: Guided Tour: Why Do Some Trees Lose Their Leaves? 11 a.m., Gazebo, Garrod Drive, UC Davis Arboretum. A look at the difference between evergreen and deciduous trees in the Shields Oak Grove. The tour will leave at 11:00 a.m. from the Gazebo, on Garrod Drive on the UC Davis campus. There is no charge for the tour, and free parking is available along Garrod Drive and in Visitor Lot 55. For more information, please call (530) 752-4880 or visit

December 11 - Chico: Chico Horticulture Society: Holiday Greens Workshop 1 -3 pm. Come make festive wreaths, swags and centerpieces for gifts or your own holiday home! All materials provided, bring your own container for special centerpiece arrangements. $12 fee for materials. Chico Library 1108 Sherman Avenue in Chico. Register by calling Avis Barrett at: 530-343-6738. More info: email President Jon Bennet at:

December 11 – Redding: McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at Turtle Bay: Winter in the Woods - Members Only Holiday Festival 5 - 7 pm. Get in the holiday spirit and Come enjoy a members-only evening of holiday cheer and tasteful shopping! • Take a stroll down the twinkling lights of the boardwalk • Get first choice of special Holiday merchandise • Listen to Holiday music • Meet Santa • MEMBERS RECEIVE 20% OFF all Museum Store merchandise this evening only • Children’s activities provided Free Members’ Only event Museum Store More info: 530-242-3178 or

December 19 – Redding: McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at Turtle Bay: Lookout Tree Take Down Party 1 - 4 pm. Delight in this whimsical and imaginative willow sculpture by internationally acclaimed environmental artist Patrick Dougherty. Some art is meant to be with us for only a short time. Help us celebrate the end of winter and the end of this beautiful sculpture at a special Lookout Tree “take down” party. Bring your garden gloves. Free with Park or Garden admission. Turtle Bay’s McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens - Carl & Leah’s Meadow. From N. Market Street, turn on Arboretum Drive. Take right fork. Parking lot and entrance are on the left. More info: 530-242-3178 or

December 21 - Full Moon/Winter Solstice

We also have some wonderful events and class series starting in January 2011, for which pre-registration is often helpful and these too might make the perfect gifts for the gardeners in your life!


January 1 - HAPPY NEW YEAR!

January 1 - Chico: Mt Lassen Chapter Cal Native Plant Society - Field Trip: Upper Bidwell Park Banana Belt Hike 10 am Meet at Horsehoe Lake Parking lot in Upper Bidwell Park. Bring lunch, water, insect/sun/cold/rain protection. Wear hiking gear. Start the new year right with a brisk scramble up the North Ridge up above Horseshoe Lake. On windless, cloudless nights, it can be 10 degrees warmer up there due to temperature inversion, hence we often see the first of the new year's blooms. Leaders, Gerry Ingco 530-893-5123 and Wes Dempsey 530-342-2293

January 2 – Butte Rose Society: Rose Pruning Demonstration 10 am Stansbury House, 307 W. 5th Street Chico. A yearly, fun and educational event teaching rose lovers of all skill levels how best to prune all manner of roses. For more information, contact President Neva Youngs at 530-588-0158.

January 10 -11 – Chico: Northern California Botanists 2011 Symposium California State University Chico, BMU Auditorium. Two days of fascinating presentations and posters of all manner of topic related to botany - from the very general to the highly technical. For Program and Registration Information got to

January 15 – Mills Orchard: Pruning Your Home Orchard 10 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., cost is $20.00. Please wear warm clothing and be prepared to do hands on pruning. If you have pruning loppers, hand shears, bring them. Gloves recommended. Participants will learn how to plant/train the new fruit tree and how to prune established trees. Taught by Pam Geisel, University of California Master Gardener Program Coordinator & Bill Krueger; Pomologist for UC Cooperative Extension. To register, please go to: Or call (530) 865-1107. The class will be held at 7782 County Road 16; Mills Orchard, CA (located between Hamilton City and Orland, CA off of Highway 32). Google Maps:

January 16 – Chico: 1st in a series of 10 Chico Organic Gardening Class: 1:30 - 3:30 Chico Grange. Whether you are a novice or have gardened for many years, you will enjoy the presentations from experts in growing delicious and beautiful vegetables, fruits, eggs, and more. For more information or to register, go to:

January 27 -30 – Chico: Snowgoose Festival - Experience the Wonders of the Pacific Flyway Over 50 guided field trips and workshops; Junior Naturalist Activities; Art Exhibition & Reception and Avenue 9 Gallery & The Artistry; Banquet and Silent Auction - John Muir Law, Naturalist; Exhibits and Vendors Galore! Registration begins in early December:; 530-345-1865;

In the Garden: note card, journal and 2011 calendar collections. Support In a North State Garden AND Delight the gardeners, readers, writers and food lovers in your life with thoughtful, sophisticated and artfully unique note card sets, journals and calendars from Dedicated to the art, craft and science of gardening, produced wholly in the North State on recycled papers, Choose from Holiday Cards (shown above) Natives in the Garden, Edibles in the Garden and the NEW Seed Series. Available now on-line or at local fine shops near you. All of's cards are printed in Chico by Quadco printing using recycled paper and vegetable-based ink in many cases.

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To submit plant/gardening related events/classes to the on-line Calendar of Regional Gardening Events, send the pertinent information to me at:

Did you know I send out a weekly email with information about upcoming topics and gardening related events? If you would like to be added to the mailing list, send an email to

In a North State Garden is a weekly Northstate Public Radio and web-based program celebrating the art, craft and science of home gardening in Northern California and made possible in part by the Gateway Science Museum - Exploring the Natural History of the North State and on the campus of CSU, Chico. In a North State Garden is conceived, written, photographed and hosted by Jennifer Jewell - all rights reserved In a North State Garden airs on Northstate Public Radio Saturday mornings at 7:34 AM Pacific time and Sunday morning at 8:34 AM Pacific time. Podcasts of past shows are available here.


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1 Responses »

  1. This is a excellent post. Thanks a lot for making the effort to summarize all this out for folks. It is a great help!


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