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2014 Sage & Songbirds Garden Tour: Sneak Peek of Garden #5

 

Maryan_garden1

Oh dear, deer in the garden?

Story by Maureen Austin, CHIRP / Photos by Mendi Wyatt, CHIRP

Her passion for the outdoors was planted by her grandparents when she was merely a young girl…

Maryan_garden3Maryan Wiedenfeld went to live on a farm with her grandparents at age 7, where she picked berries and made pies with her grandmother, watched her grandfather slaughter chickens that were eaten for dinner, and learned to milk cows at 5 a.m. every morning.

The country life, and especially gardening, is what excites her. “I love the rural areas,” she said.  “My paradise is outside.”

The rural Alpine property she purchased 5 years ago consists of 6 acres.  The area closest to her home she gardens.  On the remaining several acres she has cleared paths for walking and hiking.

She estimates to have created at least a mile of trails up the chaparral-covered hillside, and traverses the paths regularly with friends and her grandchildren, watching wildlife and collecting small rocks and bones of various creatures.

What joy she experienced one morning, a few weeks ago, when she witnessed  two large male deer using one of her trails to come down off the hillside to within clear sight as she sat in her outdoor jacuzzi.

“I just sat there in awe of those gorgeous creatures!” she said.  “It was such a thrill!”  The bucks returned a few days later, giving her another surge of excitement as they locked eyes with her.

That thrill has since turned to apprehension as she is now seeing several piles of deer droppings in the orchard area, just above her home.  “That worries me a little, even though I haven’t seen where they’ve eaten anything yet,” she said, and laughingly added,  “Isn’t it funny how that turned around!”

Maryan_garden4While not necessarily thrilled to see deer in her orchard, Maryan has extended a warm invitation to local barn owls with the installation of an owl box that extends high above the assorted fruit trees. “I’m really hoping for an owl to move in,” she said, reflecting on how owls nested every year in a large ash tree in her former home in Dehesa Valley.  “We knew they were there because we saw their pellets.”

Maryan is a huge fan of trees.  Her first priority, upon moving from Dehesa to Alpine, was to plant trees and start working in the garden. “The house could wait,” she laughed.  “I love gardening and I just want to be outdoors.”

With 6 acres of native brush and chaparral to clear, she had plenty to keep her busy outdoors! Clearing small areas at a time, she began planting trees and her favorite perennials, along with fruits and vegetables.  Native manzanita and sumac shrubs were sculpted into individual specimen.

 

Whether meandering through the trees and gardens near the house, or exploring trails up the hillside, visitors will find much to discover in Garden #5 of the Sage & Songbirds Tour.

 

Maryan_her

Tour Information:

  • Five fabulous Alpine gardens are showcased in this year’s tour, plus a place-of-worship garden and raptor rehabilitation facility.  Admission to all seven sites is $20.
  • Ticket includes a map for the self-guided tour, and is valid all three days of the event.  Visitors may stay as long as they desire in each garden.
  • Tickets may be purchased in person at Jennifer’s Feed or Alpine Garden & Gifts.  Cash or checks only at those locations.
  • To purchase online with credit card, please visit www.chirp.org.
  • Instructions to purchase by mail may also be found at www.chirp.org, or by phoning 619-445-8352.
  • The event is hosted by CHIRP for Garden Wildlife, Inc.

 

CHIRP_garden_tour_poster2014

2014 Sage & Songbirds Garden Tour: Sneak Peek of Garden #4

Babs_garden2

‘Lazy’ gardener grows enough food to feed an army!

 

Story by Maureen Austin, CHIRP / Photos by Mendi Wyatt, CHIRP

She grows more than 30 different kinds of fruit, and an equal number of varied veggies year-round in her Alpine garden, yet refers to herself as “a lazy gardener.”

Babs_garden4“I throw out a bunch of seeds, say a little prayer, and they grow!” says Babs Rosenberg.  “I really don’t spend a lot of time out here.”

She said she grows about 80 percent of what she and her husband, Jim, eat–and still has an abundance to give away, freeze, can, and dehydrate. Fruit trees she cultivates include peach, avocado, fig, nectarine, cherry, apricot, pear, mulberry, guava, pomegranate, persimmon, loquat, olive, apple and a wide variety of citrus, along with grapes, blueberries and strawberries.

Among her vegetable crops are lettuce, kale, beets, arugula, peppers, onion, celery, carrots, parsnips, brussels sprouts, bok choy, tomatoes, and beans. Everything is 100 percent organic. Babs is a believer in growing and eating the best food possible. “Good food can be the best medicine,” she said. “You can do harm to your body by not eating good food.”

Her veggie garden, primarily 9 raised beds and a few other small spaces, comprises only a small portion of the Rosenberg’s 1 1/3 acre lot, all of which was native chaparral and brush when they moved into their Alpine home in 2008.  Their previous 33 years had been spent in the Bay Area, in the home in which they raised their 3 children.

“We wanted to retire in a warmer climate,” she said. “And I’d have been bored to death in that 30×60 backyard with no room to garden!”

Babs_garden1For her first 4 years in Alpine, Babs’ gardening was limited exclusively to weekends, as she commuted to her job in Oakland, working there Monday through Thursday, and flying “home” for the weekends. But in that time, she literally “moved a mountain,”  and created a backyard for their new Alpine home.

She contracted to have built a 22’ high by 200’ long retaining wall to level-out the steeply sloping yard, affording the subsequent construction of an outdoor kitchen, gas fire pit, swimming pool, and jacuzzi–all designed by her. Over 5500 square feet of pavers was added to complete the project. “I’ve always had the ability to see how things could look,” she said.  “I knew what I wanted to do when I first saw this place.”

Babs describes her landscape as “desert-tropical,” and said she strives to be as earth-friendly as possible, using low maintenance and drought-tolerant plants such as bougainvillea lantana, daylilies and a variety of succulents.

“I’m still learning the climate and what grows here–it’s so different from the cold and damp Bay Area,” she admits.

Visitors are sure to learn a thing or two from Babs while touring her garden, which is #4 on the Sage & Songbirds Tour.

 

 

Babs_garden3

Babs_her

Tour Information:

  • Five fabulous Alpine gardens are showcased in this year’s tour, plus a place-of-worship garden and raptor rehabilitation facility.  Admission to all seven sites is $20.
  • Ticket includes a map for the self-guided tour, and is valid all three days of the event.  Visitors may stay as long as they desire in each garden.
  • Tickets may be purchased in person at Jennifer’s Feed or Alpine Garden & Gifts.  Cash or checks only at those locations.
  • To purchase online with credit card, please visit www.chirp.org.
  • Instructions to purchase by mail may also be found at www.chirp.org, or by phoning 619-445-8352.
  • The event is hosted by CHIRP for Garden Wildlife, Inc.

 

CHIRP_garden_tour_poster2014

 

 

2014 Sage & Songbirds Garden Tour: Sneak Peek of Garden #3

Peter_garden1

Night-time gardener reaps rare rewards

Story by Maureen Austin, CHIRP / Photos by Mendi Wyatt, CHIRP

Peter_garden2Laughingly labeled as a “plant hoarder” by a friend, he prefers the title “plant collector.” Peter Swoboda says he never met a plant he didn’t like, and although he has hundreds of different plants growing in his near-acre garden, he purchased less than 20 percent of them.  The balance were gifts or starts he propagated from cuttings.

He does have his favorites, however.  Peter is partial to cycads and fragrant flowers, and is especially fascinated with the intensely aromatic night-bloomers.

Whereas most gardeners toss in the trowel at dark, Peter is often just getting started!  Wearing a lighted miner’s cap, and with the aid of additional flood lights, he gardens. “I do my best design work after sunset,” he says, “without the background pollution.”

Most night-blooming plants are intensely fragrant, and many people miss the experience of enjoying them by being indoors, he said.  Most people, in fact, are not even aware that many common plants have fragrant flowers.  He cites the philodendron, of which he grows several varieties. “The philodendron flower completely fills the air with fragrance after sunset–but weather conditions have to be just right,” he said.  “Warm and humid.” He said their bloom usually occurs about the third week of June–an observation he has made in the 32 years he’s been gardening in his Alpine home.

Peter_garden3A collection of tropicals and other plants usually only grown indoors in this area, fill the deck and areas immediately outside of his home, where he can provide them with summer shade. Throughout the rest of his property is the balance of Peter’s plant collection, along with his workshop and greenhouse.

A long, meandering path wraps around a small lawn area and over a dry creek, and includes a mix of succulents, grasses, perennials, palms, cycads, bromeliads, and natives. He describes his garden as “forest-like but not manicured”, with its abundance of trees and plants. “I like a lot of plants, but not a mess,” he said.  “And I don’t like things cut into shapes.” Peter said he tries to allow space between plants.  “People plant too close and pretty soon they have a big ‘wust’,” he laughs.  (“Wust” is the German translation for “mess”, German-born Peter explains.)

His best advise to new gardeners is to plant trees. With over 2 dozen fruit trees–along with mimosa, palm, pepper, eucalyptus, oak and more–his yard is alive with the song of birds and butterflies by day, and bats and moths by night.

Although visitors will not find an evening showing for this garden, there is plenty to see during the day!

It is Garden #3 on the Sage & Songbirds tour.

 

Peter_him

Tour Information:

  • Five fabulous Alpine gardens are showcased in this year’s tour, plus a place-of-worship garden and raptor rehabilitation facility.  Admission to all seven sites is $20.
  • Ticket includes a map for the self-guided tour, and is valid all three days of the event.  Visitors may stay as long as they desire in each garden.
  • Tickets may be purchased in person at Jennifer’s Feed or Alpine Garden & Gifts.  Cash or checks only at those locations.
  • To purchase online with credit card, please visit www.chirp.org.
  • Instructions to purchase by mail may also be found at www.chirp.org, or by phoning 619-445-8352.
  • The event is hosted by CHIRP for Garden Wildlife, Inc.

 

CHIRP_garden_tour_poster2014

2014 Sage & Songbirds Garden Tour: Sneak Peek of Garden #2

  Coursons_garden4

Sea-faring adventurers set roots in Alpine habitat – Sneak Peek of Garden #2
Story by Maureen Austin, CHIRP /  Photos by Mendi Wyatt, CHIRP

Scattered car carcasses and tall, dense weeds were the only “garden elements” around the pressboard shanty home that once sat on this Peutz Valley property.

Today, the 4.5-acre site, sloping sharply up the hillside, is an engaging commentary on “living off the land” through such practices as sustainability and permaculture.

Coursons_garden2Mike and Alison Courson spent the first 17 years of their marriage living aboard a 34-foot sailboat, exploring such distant places as Bora-Bora.  Alison describes their boating life as “being integrated with nature’s rhythms.”  It wasn’t until they moved to Alpine that they considered living on the land to be equally fulfilling, she said.

It was the Sage & Songbirds Festival that first brought them to Alpine, over 14 years ago, when they were living in LaMesa.  How appropriate that their garden is now a featured site for the 17th annual event!

Their National Wildlife Federation-certified habitat is in-sync with “nature’s rhythms,” largely through Alison’s gentle prodding and coaching of her husband.  Mike laughs as he recalls his intention of planting “tropical gardens” where California native and other Mediterranean perennials now thrive.  It took an on-site visit by native plant guru/author Greg Rubin to convince Mike that native plants would provide the color, texture and excitement he wanted in their garden.

But Mike did have many worthy ideas–one of which was the construction of about 100 feet of hillside waterfalls and ponds, which he worked on for 15 minutes a day, over a period of 1 1/2 years.  It was ultimately finished by a team of professional waterscape builders who Mike convinced to use his property as a demonstration project for teaching.

The water feature is a focal point of their garden, and a hub of wildlife activity, including a chorus of croaking frogs, hummingbirds, songbirds, insects and a variety of mammals.

Mike and Alison marvel at how “nature” has nourished their garden.

“It’s amazing what the birds and animals bring in the way of seeds and ‘plant’ around the property,” Mike said.  “We started the growth here in as close to a natural way as we knew how, and the animals and birds took over and have brought in an uncountable variety of other beautiful plants!”

In a strange twist of fate, it was the Cedar Fire of 2003 that actually revealed the depth of the beauty of their property to the Coursons.  Their entire yard burned, but their recently remodeled home was spared because of its concrete resin siding, they said.

Coursons_them“We discovered 3 natural, seasonal waterfalls and ponds on the backside of the property that we didn’t even know about!” Mike said.  After the fire leveled the decades of thick growth, they were discovered.

Alison saw the fire as a motivator to implement permaculture practices such as planting gardens with immediate needs (i.e., herbs, lettuce) up-close and lesser needed items (seasonal veggies) farther away.

As one might infer, this pair of adventurers is not done yet!  Future plans include setting up bee hives, finishing an aquaponic symbiotic gardening system with fish and veggies, and lessening their needs for non-renewable power.

Those things are down the road, but for now, they invite Sage & Songbirds Garden tourists to “visit, linger, enjoy the wildlife and see their version of gardening.”

Theirs is Garden #2 on the Tour.

                Tour Information:

  • Five fabulous Alpine gardens are showcased in this year’s tour, plus a place-of-worship garden and raptor rehabilitation facility.  Admission to all seven sites is $20.
  • Ticket includes a map for the self-guided tour, and is valid all three days of the event.  Visitors may stay as long as they desire in each garden.
  • Tickets may be purchased in person at Jennifer’s Feed or Alpine Garden & Gifts.  Cash or checks only at those locations.
  • To purchase online with credit card, please visit www.chirp.org.
  • Instructions to purchase by mail may also be found at www.chirp.org, or by phoning 619-445-8352.
  • The event is hosted by CHIRP for Garden Wildlife, Inc.

 

CHIRP_garden_tour_poster2014

 

 

17th Annual CHIRP Sage & Songbirds Garden Tour: May 2-4, 2014

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Tickets: $20 each

Gardens open from 10 am – 4 pm all 3 days

Spectacular water features, sensational succulents, sprawling natives, a lush but low-water jungle, and a veggie garden that could feed an army…just some of what will be found on this year’s tour.

All 5 gardens on tour are owner-designed, and this is the debut showing of each site.  (None have ever before been featured on this or any other garden tour.) Presented by CHIRP for Garden Wildlife, Inc., a not-for-profit habitat education corporation.  All proceeds benefit habitat education for our backyards and schoolyards.

For additional information or to purchase tickets please visit www.chirp.org or phone CHIRP at 619-445-8352.

17th Annual Sage & Songbirds Garden Tour & Festival 2014

17th Annual Alpine Sage & Songbirds Garden Tour: May 2-4, 2014 – Gardens open 10 am – 4 pm all 3 days

Spectacular water features, sensational succulents, sprawling natives, a lush but low-water jungle, and a veggie garden that could feed an army…just some of what will be found on this year’s tour.

All 5 gardens on tour are owner-designed, and this is the debut showing of each site.  (None have ever before been featured on this or any other garden tour.) Presented by CHIRP for Garden Wildlife, Inc., a not-for-profit habitat education corporation.  All proceeds benefit habitat education for our backyards and schoolyards. For additional information please visit www.chirp.org or phone CHIRP at 619-445-8352.

Sage & Songbirds 17th Annual FESTIVAL – 10 am – 5 pm • Saturday, May 3, 2014 • ONE DAY ONLY!!
New location! Alpine Creek Town Center 1347 Tavern Road in downtown Alpine

FREE!!!! • FREE!!!! • FREE!!!!
• Live Entertainment
• Art & Craft Vendors
• Birds-of-Prey (owl, hawk, more)
• Live Hummingbirds
• Snakes, lizards & other live reptiles
• Monarch Butterfly Release at 2 pm
• Opportunity Drawings
• Silent Auctions including a 4-pack of Disneyland/California Adventure Hopper passes, a Julian cottage getaway & more

Sage & Songbirds 2014 Flyer

Order Early Bird Tickets Now and $AVE!!  Early Bird pricing ends April 1, 2014!

Early Bird Price – $15
Regular ticket price – $20

 

To order tickets:

Online with credit card:  www.chirp.org
Mail:  Send check or money order, payable to CHIRP, to CHIRP, PO Box 532, Alpine, CA  91903

 

CHIRP Garden Club Meeting: Special Guest Nancy Conney of Sky Raptors – April 2, 2014

Nancy Conney

Please JOIN CHIRP Garden Club at their upcoming meeting on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, 6:30 pm at the ALPINE COMMUNITY CENTER (1840 Alpine Blvd.)

Program: “Raptor Rap”
Presenter:
Nancy Conney of Sky Hunters Raptor Education & Rehabilitation
With special guests:  Barn Owl, Kestrel & Screech Owl

Get a rare, up-close look at the birds-of-prey Nancy will bring with her to this meeting and learn how they can benefit our gardens. Learn where these amazing birds live, what they eat, and how long they live. Also learn what to do and what NOT to do if you find a sick, injured or orphaned bird, and the laws we have protecting all wildlife.

Thinking about a barn owl box? Nancy will give you all the scoop!

The meeting is free and open to the public. Please phone 619-445-8352 or email info@chirp.org with questions.

Alpine Community Center Thanks CHIRP for Beautiful New Landscape

Alpine Community Center_CHIRP Landscaping_3-2014_2

Thank youThe Alpine Community Center wants to express their thanks to CHIRP, and Executive Director, Maureen Austin, for their tireless work on the Beautification of Alpine Blvd., especially in front of our Center!

Most citizens of Alpine are unaware that 100% of the funds used for this project are from CHIRP’s fundraising efforts!

Thank you CHIRP!!

POSTED BY:
Cindi Robertson, ACC Administrative Assistant
cindi@alpinecommunitycenter.com
619.445.7330 ext. 10

Alpine Community Center Extends it’s Welcome with New Landscaping By CHIRP

Alpine Community Center_CHIRP Landscaping_3-2014

Alpine Community Center_CHIRP Landscaping_3-2014_2

Alpine Community Center extends its “welcome”

*By Maureen Austin on March 11, 2014 – Executive Director, CHIRP for Garden Wildlife, Inc.

Alpine Community Center has always had its “Welcome” mat out — whether hosting community meetings, serving meals to the hungry or assisting victims of fire and other disasters. Now, that mat has been extended outwards to welcome our area winged wildlife–hummingbirds, songbirds and butterflies.

A new garden was planted along the Alpine Boulevard strip of the Center’s parking lot, the latest of a series of gardens being installed in Alpine by volunteers of CHIRP for Garden Wildlife, Inc.

The CHIRP project, known as “Gardens on the Boulevard,” is completely funded by private donations.

Vanessa Rusczyk, project garden designer, said she is pleased that CHIRP was able to put the garden in for the Community Center. “It’s at the entry to our town.” she said.  “We’re glad to make it beautiful!” The new garden is a continuation of the plant palette and design of the garden planted by CHIRP at the Goodwill Store several months ago, she said.

Volunteers who worked to install the Community Center garden were Vanessa Rusczyk, Lisa Lomax, Wally Austin, Maureen Austin, Sue Roff, Kyle Leach, Dave Kebert, and Joan Cunningham.  Special thanks go to Alpine Equipment Rentals for digging equipment and Alpine Landscape Materials for their support of the project.

CHIRP for Garden Wildlife, Inc. is an Alpine-based non-profit organization, dedicated to the preservation and enjoyment of birds, butterflies and other ‘creatures of habitat’ through hands-on and interactive programs and gardens.

*Learn more about “Gardens on the Boulevard” here: http://www.alpinecommunitynetwork.com/2014/02/the-real-dirt-on-gardens-on-the-blvd-by-maureen-austin/

Visit our website at www.CHIRP.org

 

CHIRP Garden Club Meeting: Growing an Abundance of Veggies the Easy Way – March 5, 2014

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Growing an Abundance of Veggies the Easy Way

CHIRP GARDEN CLUB MEETING: March 5th at 6:30 pm, March 5 at Alpine Community Center.  The public is invited to attend!

Now’s the time to plant our summer veggie gardens, and the next meeting of CHIRP Garden Club has all the information you need to do just that!“Easy Abundance” will be presented by Barbra Rosenberg at our next meeting!

Rosenberg, who has been gardening naturally for over 40 years, will present the basics of successful vegetable gardening, from how to prepare a garden area to the final stage of letting your crop go to seed to begin next year’s garden.

Also included will be information on using raised beds,  preparation of soil, easy composting of veggie waste, and companion planting do’s and don’ts.

“I love growing my own food because I know what went into growing it and when it was picked,” she said. Rosenberg grows more than 30 different kinds of fruit and an equal number of different veggies year-round in her Alpine garden. “This amounts to at least 80% of what we eat!” she said.  “There is always more than we can use so I give a lot away.”  She dehydrates, cans and freezes the rest.

The best part of all…she says it’s EASY.  “I don’t spend a lot of time working in my garden because I have many other interests,” she said.  “Once the soil and watering is correct, there is not a lot to do.”

CHIRP Garden Club Logo HeaderThe meeting is free and open to the public.  Bring a friend!

For additional information, please contact CHIRP at 619-445-8352 or email Maureen Austin at maureen@chirp.org