Summit Unearths Secrets of Soil

In my wildest dreams I never imagined I’d be nibbling organic hors d’oeuvres and quaffing biodynamic wines in Beverly Hills with dozens of soil and plant nerds. But there we were—at the leafy headquarters of TreePeople on Mulholland Drive—for the “inoculation party” kicking off the two-day 2017 Urban Soil Summit. Subtitled “TERROIR,” the event attracted 20 speakers who dug deep into the many layers of how soil affects us and the world around us . . . and how we affect the soil.

SOIL SUMMIT: An APLD Student Member's Perspective

BY Marcus Teply


I was the lucky winner of the APLD-CA, student scholarship to the Urban Soil Summit. The presentations by LA Compost and Urban Tilth really warmed my heart.

LA Compost’s Michael Martinez “connects people with the soil that feeds us.” His compost hubs throughout Los Angeles County not only create neighborhood centers where residents come together to make compost, they also provide education on how to grow healthy food. This is remarkable, because soil is not necessarily on our minds when it comes to improving urban communities.

Urban Tilth, based in Richmond in the Bay Area, operates five small community farms. They serve as fertile ground for training and employing young people from urban neighborhoods to grow, distribute and cook produce. Executive Director Doria Robinson spoke passionately about the more than 300 enthusiastic urban farmers they have educated over the years and their contribution to more self-sufficient communities.

Turns out when you have good soil, all kinds of things can take root and grow.

APLD Designer Bernadette Balics Featured in Pacific Horticulture Magazine

Sacramento district member Bernadette Balics was featured in the summer 2017 issue of Pacific Horticulture magazine, the third in a series of articles featuring APLD designers. The Planting the New California Garden series illustrates how water-use data from WUCOLS can be translated into lush, unthirsty gardens. Bernadette designed a sprawling garden on the outskirts of Davis with low plantings to preserve the long vistas of the surrounding farmland and hills. A perfect example of how drought-tolerant plantings can feel sumptuous, the garden brims with intermingling foliage and flowers, inviting visitors to stroll the boardwalk while pollinators hover and dip.

Link to story:

Low plantings to preserve long vistas of the surrounding farmland and hills. Credit: Jennifer Jewell

Low plantings to preserve long vistas of the surrounding farmland and hills.
Credit: Jennifer Jewell

Renovating the Mature Landscape: An APLD-CA Full-Day Seminarin Partnership with Pacific Horticulture Magazine and Heather Farms

On October 12th, APLD members along with avid horticulturalists and other landscape professionals will experience a day filled with inspiration and new ideas for restoring and rejuvenating mature landscapes to meet today’s standards for beauty and sustainability—a very common scenario for landscape designers. The event will be held at The Gardens at Heather Farm in Walnut Creek, approximately 25 miles east of San Francisco.

City of Sacramento Proposes Partnership with APLD

While the recent severe drought conditions have passed, California’s semi-arid climate and cyclical weather patterns mean that landscape designers must always plan for the future. This understanding is shared by the City of Sacramento Department of Utilities, which has proposed a partnership with the APLD-CA Sacramento District in developing programs to educate the public about sustainable landscape design and practices.

Water Agency Teams Up with APLD-CA to Promote Sustainable Landscapes

Over the years, water agencies throughout California have taken a variety of approaches to address water supply and demand challenges and water conservation education. As far as we know, EBMUD, the East Bay Municipal Water District in the San Francisco Bay Area, is the only agency in the state to create a unique partnership with the public to expand its conservation efforts. EBMUD provides drinking water to 1.4 million customers and wastewater services to 685,000 customers in parts of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

Devil Mountain Wholesale Expands Operations

Devil Mountain Wholesale Nursery, an APLD-CA gold sponsor based in San Ramon, has served Northern California landscape professionals since 1995. This year marks our exciting addition of two nursery locations, as well as the expansion of our Clements growing grounds to introduce sales and delivery throughout the Sacramento/Central Valley area.

BOOK REVIEW: Where on Earth: A Guide to Specialty Nurseries and Gardens in California

Where on Earth belongs on every garden designer’s bookshelf, with its recently revised and updated 5th edition. It’s an invaluable tool to help designers find interesting and unusual plants. There are excellent maps and special sections for every region of the state. In addition, short essays help gardeners to understand how and why some plants are well suited for California and others are not. Each geographic section also lists horticultural attractions in the region.

To celebrate this new edition, an APLD designer from each of our California districts has written about a nursery from the book. Their personal impressions follow.

Del Rio Botanical Farm Tour

by Marti Meyer


(L to R) Marian Bender, Mary-Lee Gilliland, Del Rio's Suzanne Ashworth, Hope Nelson, Soleil Tranquill, Larry Landis (Soleil’s husband), Martin Carrion van Rijn, Gary Kernick, Bernadette Balics, Marti MeyerCredit: Marti Meyer

(L to R) Marian Bender, Mary-Lee Gilliland, Del Rio's Suzanne Ashworth, Hope Nelson, Soleil Tranquill, Larry Landis (Soleil’s husband), Martin Carrion van Rijn, Gary Kernick, Bernadette Balics, Marti MeyerCredit: Marti Meyer

On a toasty hot Saturday in May, the APLD Sacramento District toured Del Rio Botanical Farm, a certified organic seed and vegetable production farm in West Sacramento. The Sacramento River, one of the most important bodies of fresh water in California, is a stone’s throw away and supplies the farm’s water, allowing third-generation proprietor of Del Rio, Suzanne Ashworth, to harvest open-pollinated seed and produce year round on 68 acres.

Suzanne is author of Seed to Seed, an authoritative reference on seed propagation and preserving varieties for future generations. With a collection of over 1,600 types of seeds, she works closely with many farms and national organizations on seed-saving projects. Del Rio harvests vegetables, fruits and herbs throughout the year for its consumer supported agriculture (CSA) boxes and specialty restaurants.

On our tour Suzanne led us through the gardens, introducing her goats, chickens and Japanese coternix quail along the way.  She offered samples of an amazing variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs, as well as cheese made from the farm’s goat milk.

We lingered to discuss some of the farm’s most unusual varieties and some of their unexpected uses:

Hollyhock, alpine strawberry, and loquat at Del Rio Farm. Credit: Soleil Tranquilli

Hollyhock, alpine strawberry, and loquat at Del Rio Farm. Credit: Soleil Tranquilli

Vegetables: spineless nopal, purslane (Portulaca oleracea), lambs sorrel (Rumex acetosella), radish seed pod, avocado leaf (licorice flavored, cook with beans)

Herbs: toothache plant (Acmela oleracea), poisonous porcelainberry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata), clove basil, medicinal tea (lippia alba), Aztec sweet herb (Lippia dulsis), horseradish leaf (use to wrap fish and grill), lovage stem (sip a Bloody Mary through it for enhanced flavor), comfrey, yerba mansa (tea, medicinal tinctures), fish sauce plant (Houttuynia cordata)

Fruits: alpine strawberry, Pakistani mulberry (we dallied longest here!), tangerine lemon, limequat

Tasting hollyhock petals. Credit: Soleil Tranquilli

Tasting hollyhock petals. Credit: Soleil Tranquilli

Edible flowers: pineapple guava, calendula, mallow, alyssum, daylily, hollyhock petal

After the tour our Del Rio experience continued in downtown Sacramento, where we ate lunch at Hot Italian, which uses many of the farm’s products.

Harvest Day in Sacramento

In early August, APLD-CA Sacramento District hosted a table at Harvest Day, the annual educational event of the Sacramento County Master Gardeners held at the Fair Oaks Horticultural Center. Pictured are District President Martin Carrión van Rijn and Secretary Bernadette Balics.

Credit: Marti Meyer

Credit: Marti Meyer



Remembering Michelle Bellefeuille

Glowing, luminous, humble, serene, graceful: these words all describe Michelle Bellefeuille, a Bay Area District member I was privileged to know, and with whom I worked closely on APLD business over many years.

From the Chapter President

How privileged I’ve been to watch the exciting growth of APLD-CA. We’ve streamlined Chapter and District operations, strengthened our branding across the state, and put together 60 innovative and entertaining programs throughout the Chapter in 2017 alone. I cannot understate the behind-the-scenes work done by our member volunteers in achieving these remarkable feats.