UC Gardening Blogs
California Invasive Species Action Week – Let’s work together to be better, do better, and grow better.>
Words like 'invasive plants' or 'weeds' often have a negative connotation for a good reason. Both words describe plants growing where they are not wanted or welcome. Plants that have a propensity to spread quickly result in habitat loss for native plants, insects, birds, and other animals. This is incredibly destructive to our natural environment and the landscape that Californians love to call our own.
Fast spreading invasive plants can quickly and dramatically change a plant community from a diverse one to a monoculture. When these plant communities shift, wildlife loses food, water and shelter resources and are forced to move out or perish.
Unfortunately, this description is not an over-dramatization. As Californians, we must communicate frankly about the impact of invasive plants in our environment. This is an important issue that can easily grow out of control. One of the biggest challenges with invasive plants is that they oftentimes have desirable features, like beautiful flowers or a spreading habit that quickly covers a barren patch in a home landscape.
Well-intentioned people have sold, purchased, propagated, and harvested plants that are known to be invasive. When done so knowingly, the gardener may use the excuse that they will watch the plant and not let it get out of control. Unfortunately, there is no way to monitor a plant that is distributed by wind, birds and other sources. It may be possible to monitor that your plant doesn't ‘escape' to the neighbor's garden but what about the seeds that blew off in the wind and established on a hillside two miles away?
Paying attention to signage and programs that identify invasive plants is an important part of caring for our environment. When questions about weeds and invasive plants arise, the UC Master Gardener Program is available locally to support good decisions and help us all be stewards of a healthy California.
Trained and certified volunteers utilize the vast network of information and expertise of the University of California to support gardeners and concerned citizens. You can reach your local county program online at mg.ucanr.edu/FindUs/.
It's Invasive Species Action Week – let's work together to be better, do better, and grow better.
California Invasive Plant Resources:
- California Department Fish and Wildlife
- Weed Research & Information Center (UC ANR)
- UC Integrated Pest Managment
Spend your lunch learning about invasive species. Brought to you by UC Agriculture and Natural Resource and the California Invasive Plant Council, come hear from the experts about emerging tree pests, aquatic invasive species, and invasive weeds and fire.
- Shot hole borers and other threats to California's trees (June 5, 12:10 - 1pm)
- Quagga mussels, nutria and other threats to California's water bodies (June 6, 12:10 - 1pm)
- Invasive plants and fire in California (June 7, 12:10 - 1pm)
Join from a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android device:
Please click this URL to join. https://ucanr.zoom.us/j/401190822
Or join by phone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 (646) 558-8656 or +1 (669)900-6833
Webinar ID: 401 190 822
Mexican Feather Grass (Nasella or Stipa tenuissima) is popular in home landscapes because of its drought tolerance but it is invasive and produces tens of thousands of seeds.
Highway iceplant (Carpobrotus edulis) often forms deep mats covering large areas. Shallow, fibrous roots are produced at every node that is in contact with the soil. Highway iceplant has been widely planted for soil stabilization and landscaping, and is well known by most Californians for its succulent three-sided leaves via CAL-IPC.org
Big Periwinkle (Vinca major)is rapidly spreading in most coastal counties, foothill woodlands, the Central Valley, and even desert areas. Big periwinkle has escaped from garden plantings, and lowers species diversity and disrupts native plant communities via www.cal-ipc.org.
It's reappointment time for the UC Master Gardener Program! Before the reappointment process begins we would like to say thank you. Our dedicated volunteers are the heart of the UC Master Gardener Program and we wouldn't be able to make such an incredible impact without you.
We hope you consider joining us as a volunteer again this upcoming program year. If the answer is yes, just follow the simple steps to reappointment below. Reappointment starts June 1 and is completed in the Volunteer Management System (VMS). Questions about reappointment? Contact your Program Coordinator, Advisor or County Director.
Step One: Select “Complete Agreement Now” in VMS
- Log into VMS, vms.ucanr.edu
- Select “Please Complete” under Volunteer Agreement and Release in right column of VMS home screen
Step Two: Complete all three sections to fulfill county requirements for participation
Step Three: Verify Date Completed Displays and Print a Copy for your Records
Quick Tips and FAQ's:
Who must complete the reappointment process?
The Appointment process is mandatory for all UC Master Gardener volunteers including:
• Limited Active
• Gold Badge
• Platinum Badge
How many hours do I need to volunteer for reappointment?
The minimum hours required to remain a certified UC Master Gardener volunteer are:
• 25 hours - Volunteer
• 12 hours - Continuing education
Note: First-year UC Master Gardener volunteers are required to complete a minimum of 50 volunteer hours (no continuing education requirement) before the next certification cycle.
What is the date range for calculating hours for reappointment?
The program year is July 1-June 30, 2019. Hours currently being reported during the reappointment period are from July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018.
Where do I send my payment?
Please check with your county coordinator, director or advisor about fees and where and how to submit payment. That statewide office does not collect fees or payment directly from volunteers for reappointment.
Gardening has always been a part of my life, I can remember working in the yard and vegetable garden with my grandmother and mother when I was a young child. Certain trees, flowers and vegetables still bring back great memories of different people and places I've lived or visited.
In the course of my job as the statewide training coordinator for the UC Master Gardener Program I'm always interested to know how volunteers started gardening or what their favorite plant is. People's faces light up as they talk about what or who influenced them to take up gardening as a hobby, lifestyle or even as a career. Many of us have cherished plants we received as gifts or had passed down to us from fellow gardeners or family.
Sharing your passion
The UC Master Gardener Program boasts over 6,000 volunteers who have spent 5.4 million hours working with and educating the public about home gardening. This dedication to volunteering and love of gardening is passed on in many families, resulting in multi-generational UC Master Gardener volunteers like Camille White and her mother Pat Bremmer. Camille and Pat are a mother daughter volunteer duo with a combined 25 years of volunteer service with the UC Master Gardener Program of Sutter-Yuba Counties.
“I love all kinds of plants and flowers and with much help from my mom I joined the UC Master Gardener Program…She (mom) is such an amazing talent when it comes to plants,” said Camille. They both volunteer to work the office hotline and attended the 2014 UC Master Gardener conference together in Yosemite. They just recently returned from a cruise where they had time to admire a Double Oleander in Key West Florida.
Gardeners excel at sharing so it comes as no surprise that they not only share their gardening know how but also their plants. Whether gardeners grow too many plants, tomatoes or zucchini they can always find homes for them, well maybe not the zucchini. Elizabeth Middleton, of Seal Beach, Calif. was gifted with violets from her husband's grandmother, Karen Hardy, who received the violets from her own mother.
Elizabeth and her family have been lovingly keeping them alive and moving them from home to home since 1976. The violets have struggled from time to time with the climate conditions and new locations however they have been divided and distributed to more family throughout the years. Four generations have grown these particular violets, the nostalgia they bring is one of peace and love, that all is right in the world for the family. Planted in a pot, or in the landscape this special flower is something to be nurtured.
Gardening with others can create positive connections and cultivate a closer relationship between people and the environment. Gardening also engages all the senses, enhances fine motor development, teaches patience and offers unique learning opportunities.
Melissa Womack and her daughter started to garden together on a small scale by creating a Fairy Garden. “Starting a fairy garden,” explained Womack “began as a day project to get outside and create something together. Years later it has evolved into a special place for my daughter and I to connect without any distractions. Every part of the process is fun for us - from designing the tiny landscape, crafting treasures and imagining the fairies visiting our magical little garden. There have been many giggles and great memories made, I hope that we continue this tradition for many years to come! ”
Thank you to all whom have shared their love of gardening, extra plants, been and continue to be that special influence in someone's life. You have helped someone realize that nothing tastes better than fresh tomatoes from their garden or that planting a tree and watching it grow is amazing.
A tip of the trowel to my grandmother and mother this Mother's Day who gave me my start in gardening. Without their influence, care and patience I would not have gone through UC Master Gardener training and become a volunteer, nor would I be making a career in a field that I love!
While the UC Master Gardener Program has been around since the 1980s, thankfully our technology has changed with the times. Most recently, the Volunteer Management System (VMS) received its long overdue upgrade – we've launched version 3.1!
Great feedback was collected from volunteers and coordinators to lay the foundation for the new system. VMS 3.1 maintains all the functionality of the old system with up-to-date branding and design. Additionally, VMS 3.1 has many of the new features YOU requested.
Check out what's new!
- Updated hours display (year and lifetime)
- User-centric navigation
- Automatic alerts and reminders
- Search bars
- ... and so much more!
It's exciting to have a system designed specifically to meet the needs of the UC Master Gardener Program. Enjoy the new features built just for you! If you have any feedback for future improvements, please submit your comments through the Feedback Survey at ucanr.edu/vmsfeedback.
If you have any questions about the new system, help is only a click away. Check out our VMS help page, which includes a new VMS User's Guide and How-To videos for commonly used functions. See for yourself at: ucanr.edu/sites/vmshelp.
2017 by the numbers:
- 172 volunteers
- 332 garden centers
- 45 counties
According to PlantRight's Spring Nursery Survey Fact Sheet, the rate of nurseries selling invasive plants continues to decline. In 2014, 44% of nurseries surveyed were selling locally invasive plants; this rate dropped to 35% in 2015, to 31% in 2016, and 29% in 2017.
Of the nurseries that were selling any invasive plants in 2017, only 8% had more than one species of invasive plant for sale. This is down from 2016, when 10% of stores (that sold any invasive plants) had more than one invasive plant for sale.
No Spring Nursery Survey in 2018
PlantRight will not be conducting the Spring Nursery Survey in 2018. This one year break from the survey allows PlantRight to make a more concerted statewide outreach effort to landscape professionals (e.g. architects, designers and contractors), and the most influential water districts promoting sustainable landscaping.
Successfully engaging these professionals and districts will accelerate PlantRight's work to keep invasive plants off California wildlands and promote climate appropriate alternatives. That's because these groups have significant influence on the nursery supply chain -- what horticultural growers grow, what plants get specified in landscape design, and the plant material that contractors source. Engaging water districts is a cost effective way to educate members of the gardening public, especially those interested in replacing thirsty lawns with lovely looking, climate appropriate landscape plants.
Survey Pause is No Pause in Planting Right
This pause in surveying is in no way a pause in planting right. PlantRight.org remains a trusted resource for UC Master Gardener volunteers. Engage with PlantRight on social media, including: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. Let PlantRight know about any good works or upcoming events so that it can share your news and announcements on social media or in its email newsletter. You can support PlantRight's Retail Nursery Partners by shopping at their stores.
Volunteers interested in learning more about invasive ornamental plants in California can still earn continuing education hours by completing PlantRight's Continuing Education Program. The online format makes it easy for anyone with an account to participate. After completing the curriculum, participants can pass a 12-question quiz and earn a certificate of achievement.
PlantRight is committed to being UC Master Gardener volunteer's go-to resource for science-based information about horticultural invasive plants. UC Master Gardener volunteers and coordinators can contact PlantRight anytime with questions, PlantRight@suscon.org.
PlantRight Project Manager
Phone: (415) 977-0380 ext. 350
A volunteer looks for invasive plants being sold as part of PlantRight's Spring Nursery Survey. (Photo credit: PlantRight)
Mexican feathergrass (Stipa tenuissima) was a wildly popular invasive plant being sold in nurseries across Calif. (Photo credit: PlantRight).
PlantRight provides alternative options to invasive plants like Highway iceplant(Carpobrotus edulis) - pictured here. (Photo credit: PlantRight)