Kick Off Wildflower Season with a Garden Clubs Weekend

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his mid-1840s poem “Hamatreya” the famous line: the “earth laughs in flowers.” It’s difficult not to agree and easy to know just what he meant – whether you are a gardener or not. Even as spring rains pepper us with damp and cool, on the eve of the vernal equinox on March 20th, the Northern California landscape all around us is bursting forth in laughter, chuckles, chortles, giggles – perhaps even snickers – of varied and plentiful wildflowers most specifically. Early spring is just the beginning of the long, luxurious awakening of our region’s remarkable wildflowers, which will continue until mid- to late summer. As is true in so many ways, we Northern Californians are privileged to live in close proximity to such riches of wildflowers and as well to annually have so many events, organizations and resources for learning more about and enjoying the wildflowers more than we might on our own.

The first of a nice string of wildflower oriented events is 2011 Northern California Wildflower Weekend April 1 -3 at the Feather Falls Casino and Lodge in Oroville. The event is being hosted by the Buttes-District of the California Garden Clubs, Inc. (CGCI), our state’s largest non-profit volunteer gardening organization, “devoted to the development of all phases of gardening, the betterment and beautification of the community, and the protection and conservation of our natural resources.” Every year, the CGCI hosts a Wildflower weekend somewhere in the state of California in order to bring its members together and to learn about and celebrate the flora of California’s many, many different plant-life regions. 2011 marks the first time that the CGCI has held its Wildflower Weekend in Northern California and the Buttes-District of the club has orchestrated what looks to be an informative, fun, and wildflower-filled weekend of speakers, field trips and gathering together with like minded people.

The Buttes-District of the CGCI is comprised of registered garden clubs in
the California counties of Butte, Glenn, Colusa, Yuba, and Sutter, and members of the garden clubs across these counties have been working hard for several preparatory months putting this weekend together.

The list of speakers is both regionally and in some cases nationally well known and even if you have heard them before, I think you will find they will each have something new, perhaps surprising and without doubt edifying for you to take home with you – from really beautiful photographs, to solid advice on incorporating our wildflowers and native plants into your home garden, to intriguing ways to more carefully and closely engage with and enjoy the plants around us. I am looking forward to attending as many of the speakers as I am able to and still get out and join the wildflower walks as well.

On Saturday the 2nd of April the speaker schedule is as follows:

9:00 – 9:50 – Jayne Locas will present a photographic “arm chair” tour of the wildflower splendor of Table Mountain outside of Oroville. Jayne is a life-long gardener with a passion for capturing award-winning floral and scenic images with her camera. She is a published garden writer, a frequent featured speaker for gardening events, and a regular guest on Wake Up and Go Green on KHSLTV channel 12 and KNVN TV channel 24.

10 – 10:50 – Julie West will speak on “Creating a Butterfly Habitat.” A long-time butterfly gardener and advocate, in 1996, Julie became a National Garden Club gardening consultant, an Accredited Flower Show Judge in October 2006, an NGC Environmental Consultant in November 2007, and an NGC Landscape Design Consultant in May 2009. Today she is President-Elect of CGCI and an active member of the North Bay Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association.

11 – 11:50 – Jennifer Jewell (me) – will speak on the Art and Architecture of the Seed structures of some of our well-loved native plants. A long-time regional, national and international garden writer, Jennifer Jewell is the creator, producer and host of In a North State Garden, a weekly public radio and wed-based regional gardening information and advocacy program in California’s North State region.

1 – 1:50 – Jayne Locas will present a photographic “arm chair” tour of the wildflower splendor of Table Mountain outside of Oroville. Jayne is a life-long gardener with a passion for capturing award-winning floral and scenic images with her camera. She is a published garden writer, a frequent featured speaker for gardening events, and a regular guest on Wake Up and Go Green on KHSLTV channel 12 and KNVN TV channel 24.

2 – 2:50 – Rex Burress will present on “The Flora of the Feather River,” including Table Mountain. Rex Burress worked as a Refuge Naturalist for 32 years at the Lake Merritt Wildlife Refuge. Botany and exhibit preparation for the Rotary Nature Center were among his duties. In retirement he has continued to find source material along the river for writing, painting, and photography. Guided nature walks have been his specialty for 60 years.

3 – 3:50 – Jennifer Jewell (me) – will speak on the Art and Architecture of the Seed structures of some of our well-loved native plants. A long-time regional, national and international garden writer, Jennifer Jewell is the creator, producer and host of In a North State Garden, a weekly public radio and wed-based regional gardening information and advocacy program in California’s North State region.

The day is capped off with a gala dinner and two highlighted speakers from 6 – 8 pm – a welcome address by CGCI President Mary Ann Lucas followed by a keynote address by Jenny Marr on “One-Two-Three Garden Wonderland: Butterflies, Hummingbirds, and Native Pollinators.” Jenny Marr (M.S. Botany, CSUC 1995) is a botanist and conservation biologist for the California Department of Fish and Game, centered in Chico. She works with several endangered species Natural Community Conservation Plans, including Butte County. As a resident of Butte County for 35 years, she has worked across the state as a rare plant botanist for the California Department of Water Resources, California Department of Transportation, and as a private consultant. She’s a long-time member of the Mount Lassen Chapter of the California Native Plant Society and a board member on the CSU Chico Friends of the Biological Sciences Herbarium and the Northern California Botanists non-profit plant conservation organizations.

Also on Saturday, a morning bus tour to Table Mountain will leave at 8:30 and return at noon. An afternoon tour will run from 1 pm to 4 pm. Bring your cameras, good walking shoes and high hopes. Weather permitting you will be in wildflower heaven!

On Sunday April 3rd, the fun continues with additional speakers:

9 – 9:50 Margrit Sands will present on the wildflowers of the Sutter-Buttes. Naturalist, amateur botanist, and life-long educator, Margrit has been hiking in and enjoying Sutter-Buttes her whole life. Currently she is president of Middle Mountain Foundation, an organization with a goal of preserving the open space and agricultural land in and around the Sutter Buttes.

10 – 10:50 John Whittlesey will present on Creating a Colorful, Four-Season Native Plant Oasis of your garden using some of our state’s best native plants. As owner of Canyon Creek Nursery & Design, John is a nurseryman, garden designer and landscape contractor who meticulously handcrafts site-specific specialty gardens. His interest is growing plants and designing gardens that are water conserving and attractive while providing habitat for people and wildlife. Photo: Courtesy of John Whittlesey, Canyon Creek Nursery & Design, all rights reserved 2011.

11 – 11:50 Adrienne Edwards will present on “Wildflowers, Weeds, and Wild Rapscallions: Battles for a Bit of Turf.” A tireless advocate for and on-the-ground creator of native plant gardens in school yards, Adrienne Edwards (Ph.D., M.S. in Botany, University of Georgia, Athens, 1999, 1992) has worked as a botanist, plant ecologist, and horticulturalist in the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Illinois and California.

In addition to speakers and field trips, the 2011 Northern California Wildflower Weekend will provide ample opportunity to mingle with other plant lovers and gardeners, to visit garden related vendor and informational booths and to take in the beauty of Northern California.

But Wildflowers are ephemeral and so are your chances to register for this Wildflower Weekend at the best possible prices! So go to www.norcalwildflowers.org to register now. Several pricing levels are available based on what you would like to attend – packages range from $35 to $105.

Other wildflower education and outing opportunities are available this same weekend March 30 – April 3rd at Oroville’s 5th annual Wildflower and Nature Festival (a rain or shine event) held at
Riverbend park in Oroville. Guided tours and booths will be available.

And coming up Sunday April 17th, The Mount Lassen Chapter of California Native Plant Society will be having a Wildflower Show and Native Plant Sale at the CARD Center, 545 Vallombrosa, Chico. Tickets are $4 for adults; children are free.

The show and plant sale help to mark the beginning of the first annual California Native Plant week. The week of April 17-23 has been designated California Native Plant Week by the state legislature. For more information about Native Plant Week visit the California Native Plant Society.

The Mt. Lassen Chapter of the CNPS’ Wildflower Show is an opportunity to see over 200 species of (mostly) native plants from Butte, Glenn, Tehama, and Plumas Counties on display. Each plant will be identified and grouped with other plants from the same plant community. A sales area will feature often hard-to-find native plants as well as outstanding books posters, and T-shirts. Speakers will round out the day and one of the highlights for my family is always the microscope area – have your ever seen a lungwort under a high powered microscope? Very cool. Well worth attending just for this. More on this event in coming segments.

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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. It is 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 jewellgarden.com. 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.

Jennifer Jewell
In a North State Garden is a bi-weekly North State 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 jewellgarden.com. In a North State Garden airs on Northstate Public Radio Saturday morning at 7:34 AM Pacific time and Sunday morning at 8:34 AM Pacific time, two times a month.
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4 Responses

  1. Avatar Sheila Barnes says:

    Jennifer, I am assuming you mean APRIL 3rd, not March 3rd. The weekend sounds intriguing, and I would love to learn more about wildflowers and native plants. However, I do need to ask a question. Do they allow smoking at the Feather Fall Casino? I rarely go the Win River Casino because the smoke is so pervasive. I sometimes go to get used playing cards – I use them for teaching math in my classroom, but I walk in and out as quickly as possible. If Feather Falls Casino allows smoking, I am afraid I will have to bow out. Perhaps I will just sign up for the bus tour, but I would love to hear the speakers as well.

  2. Jennifer Jewell Jennifer Jewell says:

    YES! I meant April 3rd – thanks for the head's up. Good question as to smoke as I also loathe even walking through the smoking allowed areas of such places as you end up smelling that way for the remainder of the day. I believer there is a no-smoking dedicated entrance for the meeting facilities, but I will confirm this and let you know if NOT. Thanks for the note. 🙂

    Jennifer

  3. Avatar Sheila Barnes says:

    ABSOLUTELY – as I hope to sign up for both the lectures AND field trip!

  4. Avatar Barbara Lindsay says:

    I'm a newby to your site. I like what I see. I want to learn more. Question: Can you please identify some of the plants in the photos above?