Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club throws ‘Work Party’


The Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club wants to become a leader in sustainable gardening and water smart practices and is working with members and experts to do just that.

On Oct. 2, Santa Fe Irrigation District assisted the Garden Club in hosting a Garden Work Party. About 30 people attended and worked together to renovate and refurbish the gardens.

The “Work Party was a “Hands on” workshop to help members understand the concepts of sustainable gardening through the use of state of the art systems, water saving procedures, soil science and amendments and installation techniques. Volunteers worked alongside professionals from the Precision Irrigation Team and installed plants from the low-water “Nifty Fiftylist.” The list includes a selection of plants that thrive in the Southern California climate, the requirements for the plants and what is needed to provide optimum growing conditions for them. And there is nothing like “hands-on” to actually get the concepts!

Garden Club President Helen Di Zio-and Chairman Patty Queen invited the members to come and get a “Ph.D.” from a select group of experts in the field of landscaping. Precision Irrigation Specialist and The Santa Fe Irrigation Water District contributed time and materials for the community project.

Michael Banks, conservation coordinator for The Santa Fe Irrigation Water District, encouraged members to take advantage of rebates that are available for switching to water-saving equipment. Tiki Lebby, designer of spaces, helped with layout, design and plant selection of the new garden and supervised the volunteers for the day.

Rocco’Eugenio, expert for Miramar Wholesale Nurseries, is a fountain of information on plants, and they donated hundreds of plants for the this event and offered Miramar discounts to RSF Garden club members. Mary Matava (known as the Mulch Queen) and Agri Service, Inc. “dished out” the dirt with her knowledge of proper soil amendment, and she invited members to tour her facility to learn more about the science of soils.

Mike Dewitt, product/equipment specialist of Grangettos Supply, spoke about new equipment and he is definitely the go-to-guy for information and availability of all the latest technology. Hunter Industries was not involved with the hands-on work the day of the event, but did generously donate the necessary up-to-the-minute irrigation materials used to retrofit the garden.

Fran Lambert, along with Michael Banks, Tiki Lebby and Chairman Patty Queen, worked together on the preparations for the event. Lambert’s advice on irrigation and plant requirements proved invaluable. Lambert’s company donated hundreds of man hours installing the equipment for the Garden Club’s new watering system, which includes a state-of-the-art weather-based irrigation controller, pressure regulated micro spray and multi-stream rotating nozzles and check valves. The Solar Sync controllers will insure savings by changing the watering run times based on weather conditions.

A special honor was given to long-time member Shirley Berry who has, on her own, been tending and caring for the Garden Club’s cactus garden for over 23 years. Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club is proud and inspired by her dedication to the Garden Club.

In keeping with the club’s new mantra of rolling up its sleeves and getting involved, this project was the epitome of working together for the good and enjoying the camaraderie. The contributions and generosity of the experts and corporate sponsors is a reminder of how a community works in concert. Since the beginning of Rancho Santa Fe, the Garden Club has been the center of the community and projects like the Work Party will help the Garden Club to be the heart of it.

— Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club