There are three car tours and a bus tour planned for this year.

Our First Vice-President of Programs, Judy Boylan, and her co First Vice-President, Sally Bagley plan tours as a follow-up to a speaker's monthly meeting program. This furthers our knowledge of habitats, ecosystems, conservation practices, plants suitable for our zone, etc.

Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

On November 25, 2016, we tour the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium to view more than 100 species of marine animals and plants found in the Santa Monica Bay.

Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve

On April 6 club members will travel by bus to visit the interpretive center and walk with a docent to view the annual display of California poppies and blue lupines.

Two Private Gardens in Reseda

On April 26 we will vist Loren Zeldin and Joan Citron's residential gardens. Loren's garden is a riot of color and his neighbor, Joan Citron is just a short walk away is more Zen like. We will enjoy a brown bag picnic after the tour in Loren's garden.

Tour of a Monarch Butterfly Garden

On May 16 or 23 we will tour a Monarch Way Station that was developed in a private garden which started with seven plants and three caterpillars in 2011 and now houses thousands of caterpillars since becoming a way station. The owners have released over 3000 monarch butterflies.

Below are pictures and narratives of our latest tours.

The Japanese Garden

West Valley Garden Club members enjoyed a docent lead tour of the Japanese Garden in Van Nuys on November 24, 2015. The 6.5 acre garden was constructed on the west side of the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant which processes wastewater for about 800,000 Valley residents.

This sign nestled in the shrubbery next to the entrance gate has symbols for garden of water and fragrance.

There are three gardens on the property designed by Dr. Koichi Kawana who taught Japanese landscape design at UCLA and designed seven other Japanese gardens in the United States. The first garden we strolled through is the dry Zen garden. Its design is based on an 11th Century dry garden.

The first feature is this "ocean" of gravel around some large boulders. The raked pattern in the gravel represents water lapping at the "island."

This roundish stone in the path indicates to the stroller that there is a choice of paths to follow.

The staggered flagstone path represents a flock of plover birds in flying formation.

There are a variety of materials used in making bridges along the wet garden strolling path. This one is a curved design made of wood.

Authentic Japanese lanterns carved from a solid block of granite are placed throughout the garden. Symbolic images are carved on various lanterns including a crane, a deer, and a mouse. One of the lanterns fell and shattered in the Northridge earthquake and our sister city in Japan sent a replacement tfor the garden.

Along the path in the wet strolling garden is this bamboo "deer scarer" which fills with water and tips making a clacking noise to scare away deer. The constant, steady rhythm helps stollers to meditate for a while.

On the far west side of the garden there is a water garden planted with water lilies and lotus flowers which bloom in the summer. Two of the eight gardeners who maintain the grounds were cleaning out the bottom of the water garden as we passed by.

This is the heavenly floating bridge where newly weds often stroll to look down into the water to see themselves reflected along with a weeping willow which represents female energy. A large wooden bridge near the willow tree is the site for weddings and is anchored at one end with a black pine tree which represents male energy.

There were many lovely red azalea bushes in bloom scattered around the wet strolling garden.

The golden colored gingko trees are one of the oldest species of trees in the world. Japan plants these as a symbol of the Emperor and in the fall "golden snow" falls to lend color to the surrounding grounds.

The Shoin Building is attached to the teahouse and sits over the lake. The ancient tea ceremonies lasted for about 4 hours and were a strictly followed ritual when warlords met once a year.

As we walked through the Shoin Building we could look down into the lake water and saw this white carp with her newly hatched babies floating around her. The baby fish provide food for the many water fowl who visit the garden.

On the east side of the teahouse area we walked past a three tiered waterfall designed to represent heaven, man and earth. Water from the Tillman Reclamation Plant is used for the waterfall, lake and streams.

One of the waterfowl seen in the garden was this green heron. It walked like a road runner bird and occasionaly the crest of feathers on it head would open up in a display of alarm.

The last part of the wet strolling garden has this zig zag bridge feature across a marshy end of the lake. It has purple water iris growing in the water. We all had fun walking across the bridge. It is built as a crooked path to help throw off feelings of negativity as the stroller changes direction.

Dr. Kawana also designed the architecture of the garden including the Administration Building for the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant. It has been used in 80 feature films including Star Trek and blends in with the Japanese garden.

At the end of the tour club members and Shannon, our tour guide, posed for a group picture in front of the lake.

Santa Monica Mountains Visitor Center Medicinal Plant Walk

West Valley Garden Club members visited the center as a follow up to a program in November by Professor James Adams, PHD from the USC School of Pharmacy and a Traditional Chumash Healer. He brought dried samples of California native plants used for healing by the Chumash Indians to illustrate his talk.

In February Dr. Adams (on left) pointed out various plants emphasizing medicinal plants for pain control. Included were purple sage, California sage brush, and California bay leaf for migraine headaches. We also saw white sage, chamise, toyon, yarrow, and hummingbird sages.

The plants were not pruned nor were the old seed pods removed. This process helped us see the natural state of each plant's growth and it helps provide seeds for birds during the winter months. None of the plants were in full bloom at the time.

After the walk we returned to the visitor center to explore the exhibits and do a little shopping. We had a nice time and recommend that others visit the area also. You can learn more about their activities and programs by visiting their website

Malibu Forestry Unit in Calabasas

On March 24 club members toured the Malibu Forestry Unit in Calabasas as a follow up to the March program by Samantha Conn, Forestry Technician in the Los Angeles County Fire Department. She propagates plants by seed which she and other Forestry Technicians gather from the local property in Calabasas. She demonstrated how a California live oak tree grows from an acorn.

As we entered the parking lot we saw this lovely California native Western redbud tree in full bloom. There were several smaller Western redbuds near the greenhouse area also in bloom. After the tour several members accepted Samantha's offer of a seedling to plant in our own yard.

Our tour started in the first green house where seedlings of red yuccas, desert willows, coffee berry shrubs and Valley live oaks were growing. The round containers are 2.5 inches in diameter and about 10 inches deep to allow long roots to develop before transplanting. The containers were yellow, black or dark green in color. Samantha uses a variety of Peach Hill soil mixes depending upon the type plant she is propagating. Not all seeds are viable. She sorts oak tree seeds by floating them in water to separate good ones from bad ones.

A second greenhouse is used when the new seedlings are transplanted into 3 gallon pots. Vitamin B1 is used to help plants adjust to transplanting. The new location offers a little protection from quickly changing temperatures while the seedlings are adjusting to their new containers. Samantha has volunteers come in from various groups to help with this phase of propagation - transplanting and carrying seedlings to their next home for a few months.

The third growing stage for the young plants is outdoors in this area where block walls line a concrete area and automatic sprinklers are used to grow the plants until they are acclimated to the outdoors and mature enough to plant in their final location by volunteer groups.

After touring the greenhouse and office areas Samantha led the group on a hike on a trail through the 20 acre site. While climbing through a wooded area we saw wild cucumber vines hanging from trees over the trail.

As we walked along the high ridge of the property we admired the view and native plants in bloom. The group paused at the weather station located on a high point of the ridge which Samantha checks daily to be sure it is working correctly. The tall pole measures wind speed and direction. The station also measures precipitation and temperature which is reported daily at 4 pm to another location.

After the tour and hike we enjoyed a brown bag lunch on a picnic table near the office area.

The Huntington

On April 21st club members, friends, husbands and members from Cherry Blossom, Shermn Oaks and Southern California Garden Clubs traveled in a comfortable bus courtesy of our City Councilman, Mitchell Englander's office to the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens.

As the bus entered the parking lot we admired numerous plantings of California natives. President Ilona pointed out the seeds just forming on a native plant as the group was debarking from the bus.

There have been many changes at the Huntington for those of us who had not visited for quite a while. The entrance area with ticket booths and covered patio has been expanded with notices of current exhibits of art on display, more ticket booths and an enormous, well stocked gift shop to explore while waiting for our tickets and ID stickers.

Members explored the gift shop prior to walking the grounds. Pam found this pretty garden sign.

Some members and friends waited in the new patio area before beginning their exploration of the grounds.

The new Chinese garden is completed. This reflecting lake enhances the structure on the far side.

The Japanese garden is well established with shrubs, lawn, lake and this bridge over another lake.

This sign welcomes visitors to the extensive desert garden area on the southeast side of the property.

The cactus and succulents were in full bloom and most specimens were identified with plant markers. Members took many photos to help identify cactus and succulents in their own gardens.

Since it was April, the rose gardens were also in full bloom. Members looked for roses they knew and admired species new to them. There were rose paths, arbors, small areas with a statue surrounded by roses and even some docents to help answer questions.

A docent was also explaining uses of herbs in the herb garden. She had a display of textiles dyed with various herbs, a rack of drying herbs and explained how the flax plant yields fiber used for making cloth. There were many beds with a huge variety of herbs.

When it was time to return to the bus, some of us walked along an area filled with spring blooming flowers lined with water filled cement troughs, clipped hedges and inviting places to stop and sit under an umbrella. Everyone enjoyed their visit to the Huntington and were glad to relax on a bus for the drive home.

Renee Frazer's Garden

It was a perfect May morning to visit Renee Frazer's home garden in Simi Valley. Her dog, Sam, greeted everyone at the gate with a friendly tail wag. We entered her garden area through a jasmine covered arch which led to a patio area. It was bordered by lush plant growth and trees gave the area dappled shade. Renee had set out some breakfast rolls and coffee to greet us.

Her garden is designed with many little rooms to explore. She and her husband handcrafted the winding paths, water features and arbors. Some of the plants in the shady areas were maidenhair fern, retrofractus, and alteranthera. This waterfall was constructed by the couple.

This pond is just below the waterfall. Iris and decorative grasses grow around the border of the pond and lilies are getting established in the water. Renee is a member of the local Iris Society and she has groups of iris plants in various places on the property.

As the group finished touring through the shady areas of the lot and entered the sunny back side of the lot the cameras started clicking in all directions. There were so many flowers in bloom, arbors, bird bath, tripods and other constructed features to admire.

This wooden arbor was also handmade. Her irises and roses had finished blooming and the alstomeria, mini bottlebrush and other late bloomers filled the garden beds with color. She has a gorgeous alstomeria called "Rock and Roll' planted in this bed.

Below is another stone path constructed by Renee. She planted white and yellow yarrow to spill over the paving stones. On the right side of the path she has started a mini succulent garden behind some rocks.

The back of the lot has a green lawn expanse which Renee plans to convert to California native plants. The brown wooden shed houses three pretty laying hens. The hens have a fenced area behind the shed.

Before having lunch in the patio area we gathered for a group picture and Sam, her dog, wandered into the photo. We enjoyed our brown bag lunches and visiting with each other after a great tour of a homeowner's backyard.