Monday, March 17, 2014

New Year, Old Blog, New Name

Hey, y'all, Merritt College Horticulture Folks. We are brushing off the old blog for this New Year 2014. And we have a new name for the Propagation Club - the Horticulture Club. We want to expand the focus of the Horticulture Club to include other topics besides propagation.
Tiny succulents donated by the Succulent Gardens in Moss Landing.

Meetings are monthly and more information will be added soon!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Merritt Plant Sale Fall 2012--Coming Up!!

Put aside Saturday Oct 6, 9-3pm and Sunday Oct 7, 12-3 for the wonderful sale of perennials and fall edibles. This is the best time for planting California native plants and the edible cool season crops. See you there.

The poster for the sale is an Eriogonum fasciculatum, our native California Buckwheat. It is a colonizer plant and an absolute magnet for beneficial insects. It takes minimal water, grows in a patch, and is perennial with white to cream flowers in the summer. By fall, the flowers turn rootbeer-colored progressing to a stylish black.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fall Plant Sale Oct 1-2, 2011

The plant sale is a happening, Oct 1, 9-3 and Oct 2, 12-3. The edibles are really outstanding this year. We will have perennials for fall planting and music and food and tours and . . .

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Plant Sale--Spring 2011 May 7 and May 8

It it true, the Merritt Spring Plant Sale is coming up!
Saturday May 7, 9-3 pm, and Sunday May 8, 12-3 pm.

Volunteers are putting on the fair, selling rare fruits, perennial and annual vegetables, grasses, California natives, and mediterranean plants. There will be food and music. Address is 12500 Campus Drive, Oakland.

This semester the volunteer cadre has been a bit off kilter as the horticulture department facility is getting its much needed renovation. The greenhouses have been closed but are now open again. The lathe house is still going strong, however, with no interruptions. And the nursery out at the permaculture area was not affected.  Volunteers are always welcome Friday afternoons and are welcome other times if arranged with Mollie and Anders. Mollie can be reached at 510-436-2491. 

Merritt Sale Spring 2011

Monday, September 27, 2010

Plant Sale at Merritt Sat Oct 2 and Sun Oct 3

Yes, the Plant Sale is really happening!
Sat Oct 2, 9:00-3:00, and Sun Oct 3, 12:00-3:00. 
Think of it as a Plant Fair also. There will be food, representatives from the various parts of the horticulture community at Merritt showing off their stuff, and plants, of course. Propagators for this sale have emphasized fall edibles and California Natives (the best time to plant them, right?) Some of the plants you will see are a large selection of California native wild flowers in 6-packs, interesting California salvias--some rather hard to come by--loads of blueberries and tree collards. Non-native plants are there too. There is alot of bamboo, lavender, restios, many salvias (every fall they are so pretty in bloom), ericas, succulents, grasses, and pelargoniums in bloom. Partial List of Available Plants

Plant Sale Poster for Merritt Plant Sale Fall 2010

For two years, Tamar Beja who works at the UC Berkeley Art Department, has made beautiful posters for us to advertise our plant sales. They are 12" wide and 18" tall. The poster for this sale highlights blueberries. If you click on the image you can see a larger size for download.
Merritt Plant Sale Fall 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Finches in the Late Summer Backyard

Gold Finches seem to show up about this time each year. They snack on the seed from the Salvia uliginosa, the Penstemon hidalgoensis, and communicate on the running water at the fountain. The fountain has Anemopsis californica and Lobelia cardinalis, both in color right now.
Penstemon hidalgoensis

Salvia uliginosa
Anemopsis californica, Lobelia cardinalis

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Merritt Salvia Garden Before and After

It is always humbling to see what time will do to a garden. The Salvia Garden at Merritt was planted in October 2009--elsewhere I have claimed it was June, in error. By chance we have some "before" pictures and some "after" of the same plants. I have also included a few others just to emphasize how these plants grew in such a short time. 

Salvia pratensis 'Haemotodes' before at Merritt Garden

Saliva pratensis 'Haemotodes' after --in another location

Salvia argentea before

Salvia argentea after

Salvia hybrid before

Salvia hybrid after

Salvia barrelieri

Salvia officinalis

Salvia sclarea with Kia

Monday, April 12, 2010

Merritt Plant Sale Poster Spring 2010

This year's poster has a different look. Tamar Beja, our wonderful poster maker, highlighted the edibles at this sale. The pretty orange flowered vine is Mashua or Tropaeolum tuberosum, an Andean root crop that grows well in the Bay Area. Corn is featured in the center.

From Merritt Spring 2010 Plant Sale

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring 2010 Merritt College Plant Sale Saturday May 1 and Sunday May 2

The sale will be Saturday May 1, 9-3 and Sunday May 2, 12-3. On Saturday we will have the full fair event with lots of participation from the horticulture department parts--permaculture, design, plant id, and mushrooms for sure.

This year is the year of the "grow-your-own edibles". We will have edibles grown by an army of enrolled propagators, all learning about the many different tomatoes, the particulars of the huge number of grape varieties, various greens, squashes, and much more.
This year we have some Salvias for sale. And the new Salvia garden will have been in the ground one year so there will a chance to check out how the plants fared after the considerable cold we had in December. The following will be available although there might be some last minute additions.
Salvia 'Anthony Parker'
Salvia 'Bee's Bliss'
Salvia 'Frieda Dixon'
Salvia africana-caerulea
Salvia africana-lutea
Salvia cacalifolia
Salvia clevelandii 'Allen Chickering'
Salvia desoleana
Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'
Salvia lanceolata
Salvia microphylla 'Pink'
Salvia namensis
Salvia pratensis 'Haemetodes'
Salvia pulchella x involucrata
Salvia roemeriana
Salvia sclarea
Salvia tingitana
Salvia uliginosa

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Salvias and Plant Names in New Mexico

While visiting in Southern New Mexico, driving around I saw our California native Salvia clevelandii planted in front of banks, restaurants, on roadside city landscaped areas. It looked so familiar to California eyes. It has last year's bloom spikes still on it and has its olive green foliage. In the winter landscape this plant has more leaves and winter interest than most plants. On a quest for it, I dropped in on Sierra Vista Growers in La Union, a well-respected wholesale/retail nursery here.  I called ahead to see it they had Salvia clevelandii and was told they had Chaparral Sage, would that do? I had no idea what specific plant she was talking about--I had heard Chaparral Sage as a name but did not know what plant it was. So, I decided to just give this a visit anyway. The staff person there showed me Chaparral Sage (it was indeed a Salvia clevelandii), Grammi Sage, and Autumn Sage. He said that Grammi Sage gets 4', is pink, while Autumn Sage is 3' and red. He was talking about Salvia grahami (also called Salvia microphylla) and Salvia greggi I think.

In early February at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix there were some lovely salvias in bloom. I asked a horticulturalist on staff there what their names were. One was identified as Chapparal Sage. Later I identified the salvia as Salvia dorrii.

At Merritt plant sales we have always made a point of identifying a plant with its Latin name and correctly spelling it. Often a common name will be included on a plant label, but that has been optional. After this New Mexico experience, I am more than ever convinced that the correct identification of a plant and its latin name are required and that common names are not even relevant.

As a footnote, I did buy two Salvia clevelandii to plant in the garden here. They do well here at 4,500' in commercial plantings. They can tolerate the high teens in temperature, the alkaline soil and summer rain. They are also evidently unpalatable to rabbits, the primary plant predator in this area. Who would anticipate our native California salvia would be so adaptable? And I am told that "Chaparral" is Spanish for road runner, referring to the bird--present here in abundance.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow at Merritt December 7, 2009

Wow, was it cold. The new salvia garden has taken a hit. This is the opportunity to see how hardy some plants really are. Salvia confertiflora, Salvia elegans, Salvia mexicana 'Limelight' were looking seriously damaged. New growth should be coming up from the roots come spring.

Molly made it campus early that morning and took these pictures.
From Merritt Snow Dec 2009

From Merritt Snow Dec 2009

From Merritt Snow Dec 2009

From Merritt Snow Dec 2009

From Merritt Snow Dec 2009

Plant Sale Signs 2009

This year Tamar Beja who works at the UC Berkeley Art Department made beautiful posters for us to advertise our plant sales. They are 12" wide and 18" tall.

From Merritt Sales signs 2009

From Merritt Sales signs 2009
If you click on the images you can see a larger size for download.

Friday, October 9, 2009

SEED UP! Season Two

All right people, remember, there’s always something to do in the garden and the Merritt-based video program SEED UP! is going to show you how.

Our second season includes more unique garden tours, including how to have a fabulous garden design using vegetables. We tag along with Oakland’s 40th Street Guerilla Gardener and find out how to make our street medians lush habitats. We travel to the beautiful rolling hills of Sunol, California to get a look at an awesome roof garden with design instructor, Chris Grampp. And a tour of a Victorian garden in downtown Oakland by our garden historian, Richard Orlando!

And this season we have a chef showing us how to cook healthy from the garden.

Then we get down to work with irrigation and grafting tips and finish up with how to make an evergreen wreath for the holiday season. And don’t miss the talking duck and chickens! (You have to see it to believe it.)

The broadcast schedule for the streaming live shows and the Comcast Cable Channel 28 is the same:
  • Wednesdays at 11:30 am
  • Fridays at 4:30 pm
  • Saturdays at 10 am
  • Sundays at 2 pm 
Several segments have made their way to You Tube. You can also see it streaming live on the web at

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Jeanette's Garden is on YouTube!

Patti Tauscher's Seed Up! program did a segment on Jeanette's Garden this spring. Jeanette walks through her garden chatting away while Patti and her videographer follow along. Here is the link to YouTube to see it. Jeanette's Garden on YouTube.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Palms and Cycads Growing at Merritt

Ken Mohler has become a real palm grower. He has 210 species he is working on now. Ken's Palm List October 2009  Many are in one gallons, many are still germinating. The one gallon plants will be on sale at the Plant Sale October 17, 2009. He grows them at Merritt in the orchid greenhouse and in the nursery.

Monday, September 28, 2009

New Salvia Garden at Merritt

The Landscape Horticulture teacher, Lawrence Lee, was looking for a project for his students and did he find one! Two weeks ago he and his over 50 students planted out the salvia mother plant collection. The salvia garden is located along the path on the uphill side as you leave the tool room and head for the nursery. They are in a all-day sunny location. Anders arranged for irrigation lines right away so they are doing well already.

They were arranged in two groups, one for natives and one for non-natives. The native group looked sort of forlorn so other sun-loving natives were planted with them. California just does not have that many salvias. The students dug the holes (Anders and Lawrence did a demonstration of how to make a proper hole on a slope), learned about checking for excess roots on the plants and trimming them, and then planted them. Mulch, labeling and water finished the process.

The propagation club is grateful as we will now have a close by source for new plant material. At the upcoming sale, we can also take people over to the garden and show off how the plants look when they are finally out of their pots.

Merritt Plant Sale October 17!

Come join us for our Fall event 9:00-3:00 Saturday October 17.  The plant sale will be a big party this fall. Molly Sealund has been organizing--there will be plants, of course, but there will be lots more.
  • the Permaculture Garden will be on display with students leading tours
  • the South African garden is beautiful right now ready to be shown off 
  • botanical art and ceramics tables
  • the herbalists will show off their stuff
  • Lunch will be available with primarily vegetarian elements
  • Information table with plant advisors
  • Oh, and music will be out on the deck.
Our plant list is still being developed, more plants from the protea and palm families will be added. We look forward to seeing you there. Current Plant List Oct 17 Sale

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

California Natives at Merritt Summer 2009

Our California native plant collection is growing. All of the plants are ready for fall planting this October.
Aesculus californica
Anemopsis californica
Aquilegia formosa
Arbutus menziesii
Arctostaphylos paharoensis 'Warren Roberts'
Arctostaphylos pallida
Arctostaphylos uva ursi 'San Bruno Mountain'
Armerica maritima
Baccharis sp. (low)
Berberis aquifolium
Ceanothus sp. (similar to C. grisus horizontalis
Dormera peltata
Epilobium canum
Erigeron divergens
Eriogonum arborescens
Eriogonum compositum
Eriogonum douglassii
Eriogonum giganteum
Eriogonum saxitile
Eriogonum wrightii
Erogonum umbellatum
Festuca glauca
Festuca 'Siskiyou Blue'
Fremontedendron californicum
Galvesia speciosa
Globularia sacrophylla
Hazardia detonsa
Heuchera cylindrica
Hierochloe occidentalis
Iris douglasiana
Lupinu arboreus
Mahonia nevinii
Manzanita sp. (low)
Melica imperfecta
Mimulus various
Myrica californica
Nasella cernua
Nasella pulchra
Oxalis oregana
Penstemon cardwellii
Penstemon heterophyllus
Penstemon sp. (garden collected from Rancho Santa Ana Garden)
Penstemon sp. (wild collected Valerymo CA 4500')
Penstemon spectabilis
Prunus ilicifolia
Rhododendron occidentale
Romanzoffia californica
Salvia 'Bee's Bliss'
Salvia clevelandii 'Celestial Blue'
Salvia leucophylla
Salvia munzii
Salvia munzii x brandegeii
Salvia sonomensis
Sidalcea malviflora v. asprulla
Sisyrinchium bellum (dwarf)
Sisyrinchium californicum
Stryax officinalis
Tellima grandiflora
Vaccinium ovatum
Verbena lilacena

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Salvia sclarea 'Turkestanica alba'

Salvia sclarea 'Turkestanica alba' setting bud, before bloom, in bloom
Betsy Clebsch in "The New Book of Salvias" calls the plant "... stately in structure" and "... is among our most arresting border plants." In my garden, this perennial salvia has been a friendly companion. When it is out of bloom it is low, rough-leaved, and evergreen. About May when it starts to grow--it becomes taller, the leaves get larger, and the bloom spike with white flowers begins developing. The plant could get to two feet. Early in June the bloom spike adds another foot or more. Perhaps two weeks later the flowers open and is in bloom for about two weeks.

I always have enjoyed this plant because it seems to thrive with little care. It self-sows here and there in a mannerly way. It has naturalized in central Europe. It requires some water, not much, through the summer and seems to do equally well in sun or part shade.

We are selling Salvia sclarea this coming Fall 2009 sale. Also, if you cannot wait, we can sell on any Friday afternoon when volunteers are propagating.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Garden Show at Merritt--SEED UP!

One of our propagators, Patti Tauscher, is also a movie maker. She has developed a television series called SEED UP! which is a modern take on the age-old art and science of horticulture. Each new episode introduces the classes, people and projects comprising the renowned Landscape Horticulture Department at Merritt College. Be ready for unique tours of the private gardens of professors and students. Take a fresh look at urban community gardening, propagation, pruning, permaculture, flower arrangement and more.

Patti is at work on Season 2. From Season 1, four episodes can be seen at More episodes are broadcast on Comcast TV Channel 28 viewable in Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville:
Wednesday @ 11:30 am
Friday @ 4:30pm
Saturday @ 10 am
Sunday @ 2 pm
Monday @ 4:30 am (for insomniacs).

Program 1 starts July 22, 2009 and will repeat each 5 weeks.
Garden Tour: Patti Tauscher/an artist’s view
Native Plant Habitats with Glenn Keator
Monologue by DC Allen
Propagation Tips (seeds) with Susan Ashley
Know Your Trees (carob/sumac/maple) with Jocelyn Cohen
Show & Tell (dahlias) with Lawrence Lee

Program 2 starts July 29 and will repeat each 5 weeks.
Garden Tour: Glenn Keator/a collector’s garden
Urban Community Gardening with Tom Branca
Propagation Tips (cuttings) with Susan Ashley

Program 3 starts August 5 and will repeat each 5 weeks.
Garden Tour: Christopher Shein/public gardens
Flower Arranging with Connie Hubbell
Aesthetic Pruning Club (Japanese Garden)
Garden Monologue by Toni Chantell

Program 4 starts August 12 and will repeat each 5 weeks.
Garden Tour: Christopher Shein/home garden
Monologue by Mario Marion
Permaculture with Christopher Shein
Propagation Club (cuttings/plant media)
Know Your Trees (cedars/manzanita) with Jocelyn Cohen
How do you play in your garden? Hand Dance by Leslie Egashira

Sunday, July 12, 2009

New South African Plants Garden at Merritt Summer 2009

On the Merritt Landscape Horticulture Department south-facing hill over one hundred South African plants were installed this spring and summer. There are shrubs, trees, pretty bulbs, and groundcovers. Many are from familiar southern hemisphere plant families—Geraniaceae, Asteraceae, Restioaceae, and Proteaceae. The hill is a wonderful location for them because it has relatively nutrient poor soil and drainage is good. The resident gophers are the only known pests so far. Right now they are looking great--blooming and growing. Ken Mohler, a Merritt Propagation Club member, has been growing these plants for several years and installing them in local gardens. Many of them are relatively new to Bay Area general landscape use. The Merritt Landscape Horticulture Department sought to plant them on the hill to provide a demonstration garden for horticulture students and plant sale customers and to create a mother plant resource for the MPC.

The garden is open every day. We are still installing official paths and signage.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Rock Garden Plants at Merritt Summer 2009

These plants are available for sale. Several of them were grown from seed collected by the North American Rock Garden Society (NARGS). The NARGS has members who collect seed from all over the world, many from hard-to-access locations in mountainous regions.

Androsace lanuginosa
Anemone drummondii
Aristea africana
Asclepias eriocarpa
Boykinia major
Boykinia occidentalis
Calandrinia grandiflora
Calceolaria arachinoidea
Clematis pitcheri
Dacrydium cupressinum
Digitalis dubia
Dioscorea sylvatica
Draba paysonii
Erica otis
Eriogonum compositum
Eriogonum crocatum
Eriogonum kennedyii
Eriogonum saxatilis
Eriogonum tripodium
Eriogonum umbellatum modocensis
Eriogonum umbellatum var. furcosum
Eriogonum wrightii
Ferrulea sp.
Geum trifolium
Gladiolus saundersii
Goodenia pinnatifida
Gunnera prorepens
Hedysarum boreale
Leptodactylon californica ssp brevi
Limonium sp.
Lotus formosa
Lygodium circinnatum
Moltkia petraea
Morina longifolia
Notholirion bulbiferum
Papaver miyabeanum
Penstemon cardwellii
Penstemon cyaneus
Penstemon triflorus
Petrophytum caespitosum
Phyteuma nigrum
Pinellia pedatisecta
Podophyllum hexandrum
Polypodium guttatum
Pteris longipes
Rhododendron linearifolium
Romanzoffia californica
Seseli gummiferum
Stenocarpus sinuatus
Styrax californica
Thalictrum acaule
Thalictrum kiusianum
Thymus camphorata
Townsendia paryii
Wahlenbergia albomarginata
Xerochrysum subundulatum

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Salvias at Merritt Summer 2009

We are open for plant sales most Friday afternoons.

Salvia 'Bee's Bliss'
Salvia 'Cabrillo Sunset'
Salvia 'Frieda Dixon'
Salvia 'Indigo Spires'
Salvia africana-caerulea
Salvia africana-lutea
Salvia argentea
Salvia barrelieri
Salvia brandegii
Salvia buchananii
Salvia chamaedryoides
Salvia clevelandii 'Celestial Blue'
Salvia confertiflora
Salvia corrugata
Salvia darcyi
Salvia elegans
Salvia fulgens
Salvia guaranitica
Salvia keerlii
Salvia leucantha
Salvia littae
Salvia lycioides
Salvia mellifera
Salvia munzii
Salvia pachyphylla
Salvia pratensis 'Pink Ice'
Salvia roemeriana
Salvia sagittata
Salvia semiatrata
Salvia slcarea
Salvia sonomensis
Salvia uliginosa

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What We Are Up To

The Merritt College Propagation Club is a loose group of landscape horticulture students and volunteers who work at the propagation tables sowing seed, transplanting stock from one size pot to another, or making cuttings for the mist house. And of course there is the sharing of information. The group among its members often has an answer for most questions. What seed mix should I use? How strong should the rooting hormone be? Is this the right time to make a cutting or to plant the seed? Is this a seed? (This one makes for interesting answers.)

The group's purpose is to be a learning laboratory for the landscape horticulture deparment as well as to create plants for twice yearly plant sales. There are 3 greenhouses with automatic watering and temperature controls.

Call Molly Sealund, Landscape Horticulture Dept, Merritt College at 510-436-2418 for more information.

Schedule The group meets on Tuesdays and Fridays 1-5 generally year round

What we grow The group grows plants that interest them. There are many South African plants being grown, ferns from spore, plants from various collecting trips, California natives, plants in the protea family, palms and salvias. Recently several people have started specializing in edibles.