Join the Club: Summer 2014 Master Gardener Newsletter

by Judi Kleidon

A couple of years ago, Heidi Kratsch started us on a journey to appreciate native plants. She started a Native Plants Club, and, as an enthusiast, has led us on an adventure of propagating and growing native plants.

To appreciate native plants you need to understand that while at first they need a little help from us, and I do mean only a little, they do best when established by being left alone.

Our group has grown a variety of native plants from seed… some very easy to start and others a little more difficult. But, we were able to grow and then plant some of these natives in both our own gardens and in the Heritage Park Community Garden in Gardnerville. If you want to plan an outing, a stop by the Heritage Park Community Garden in Gardnerville to see the work of our Master Gardeners there and some of the native plants would be rewarding.

Along with seed starting, Heidi helped the group work on planning a garden and the participants plotted their native plant gardens on grid sheets. Some of those plans were used in the mini-garden along the west side of our Cooperative Extension building on Energy Way. In the next couple of months, stop by to see the many varieties of penstemon now growing and blooming there. Do stop by to see how well they do with very little effort and let us know your favorites by completing the penstemon demonstration garden survey available in our building’s entry way.

The group has also started a variety of native plants from seed in the greenhouse at the University located on Valley Road. Some of the plants include purple sage (Salvii dorii), sulphur buckwheat (Erigonium umbellatum) and western peony (Peaonia brownie). One of the University professors has allowed us to share her space in return for growing plants for her to use with her classes… what a wonderful symbiotic relationship. Our hope is to provide native plants to the various local nurseries in order to encourage their use.

I personally have enjoyed being introduced to the various varieties available for growing here and have a couple of successful penstemon growing (and multiplying) in my garden. I’ve been able to pass along some volunteer penstemon to neighbors who gratefully accept them.

If you are interested in joining our Native Plants Club, please contact Heidi Kratsch at kratschh@unce.unr.edu.