Permaculture:  What is it?

          ~article written by Brie Wypich for member newsletter for April 2021

In February, the TVGC was joined by Diane Kennedy, owner and operator of the Finch Frolic Garden in Fallbrook, CA,

author of, and an avid purveyor of all things permaculture.

So, what exactly is it?

Diane outlined the permaculture philosophies upon which she runs Finch Frolic Garden and her consulting practice. 

Caring for the earth, caring for people, and the return of surplus as in replenishing nature. 

Permaculture goes beyond organic gardening; it’s based on a holistic approach that supports a balance 

in our environment by conserving water and energy and feeding our soils.

The nutrients we remove from our ecosystem in the form of flowers, vegetables and yard waste are resources

we can return rather simply, so that we may continue to enjoy future growth. Many gardeners opt for fertilizers to

replenish their gardens, but Diane offers other ideas.  Composting comes to mind, an effective, long-term 

solution for healthy, fertile soils. Traditional composting may not be a viable option for some, however, and Diane

suggests trying “blender composting,” a method that turns food scraps like expired produce from the fridge and

vegetable peels into plant smoothies. Sound delicious?  Maybe not for us, but our shrubs might think so. 

Instead of tossing nitrogen-rich organic material into the trash, toss it in a blender. This helps breakdown the food

particles, thereby advancing the decomposition process.  Fill ¼ of the blender with scraps, and the rest with water.

The mixture should be easily absorbed into the soil, not chunky (more juice-like, perhaps). Diane says she uses the

water leftover from boiled pasta; an idea that gets you thinking about other options typically destined for the

drain. When the mixture is ready to go, pour around the drip line of trees and shrubs.

Another trick-of-the-trade used in permaculture gardens is sheet mulching. Also known to some as lasagna gardening,

it’s a layering technique that can stamp out weeds like the invasive bermudagrass while enriching the soil. Layers of

overlapped cardboard and newspaper should be laid down over the weed-infested area, Diane says no more than an

inch. Be sure to top it off with several inches of mulch to retain the moisture and keep the cardboard in place. Then

water and wait. Gradually the weeds underneath will rot, restoring the soil’s nutrients.

Diane also provided the club with some ideas on water conservation in our backyards. Here in the Temecula Valley

we receive an average of 12 inches of rainfall a year. Not a lot. Yet still, our first inclination is to direct that precious

resource along gutters, downspouts, and off of our property to be lost to the sewers.  But why?

With a little bit of planning, we can create contours in the landscape to harvest the rainwater. Swales or shallow

depressions can capture, slow, and spread the movement of water so that it can infiltrate the ground and quench our

plants’ roots while raising the water table. Reimagine your property with this idea in mind. How can

you use slopes to guide water back to where your garden needs it the most? What landscape elements can be used

in the process? Think rocks and boulders, perhaps a dry river rock bed or pathway that looks stunning wet or dry.

The possibilities are endless.

One of the most gratifying outcomes of incorporating these permaculture-based ideas is connecting with nature

at a deeper level and creating an environment to which you are inviting nature back in: birds, insects, reptiles, and other

wildlife that help maintain a balance we hope to achieve. It doesn’t take much, even slight changes in our daily habits

can have significant results.

For more inspiration be sure to check out Diane’s website,, or in-person at Finch Frolic Gardens, 

now celebrating its 10th anniversary. They’re open for pre-arranged tours. Reserve your spot by email:


Health Benefits of Gardening, Who Knew?

     ~article written by Jane Payne for member newsletter for April 2021

As gardeners, we instinctively enjoy the health, happiness and benefits of gardening.

We probably even take them for granted.  The Center for Successful Aging at Cal State

Fullerton has based their program around a whole-person wellness model. One’s

wellness is broken down into six essential dimensions:

Emotional: Spending time in my garden always boosts my mood. A study in the

Netherlands tested the hypothesis of gardening as a stress reducer. In the study,

people who were experiencing stress either did 30 minutes of quiet reading indoors

or gardening outside. Levels of cortisol (which is a hormone released during times

of stress) were significantly lower for those who gardened than for those who read.

The surprise finding was that gardening not only reduced stress but improved


Intellectual: There is a lot to learn about gardening and I am learning something

new every day. In her gardening blog, Jennifer McCormick states, “gardening

cannot only direct our attention away from commitments that might be draining

our energy and causing stress, but it is also a dynamic activity that allows us to

express ourselves, learn and improve skills, and experience pride in the result of a

beautiful garden.”

Physical: Some of the physical benefits of gardening presented by Janet Hartin

during a Master Gardener class include improved immune response, decreased

stress and heart rate, improved overall physical health and improved fine and gross

motor skills and eye-hand coordination. After a day working in my garden, I may

feel tired, but I also feel like I did something good for my body.

Social: After moving to the Temecula/Murrieta area, the TVGC was a great way for

me to meet some wonderful people. A recent study in Australia found gardening

groups offer a way for people to connect with nature and each other, allowing social

benefits to accrue. This may be especially important during periods of change

such as retirement from paid employment. Members receive social support and

contribute positively to the lives of others.

Spiritual: According to Fran Sorin in Garden Musings, “gardening is a way of making

meaning out of our lives. Being in the garden and feeling a profound connection to

the land, affords us the opportunity for focus on beauty and inspires us to experience

feelings of awe, gratitude and abundance.” I know I feel closer to my spiritual beliefs

as I spend time in nature and enjoy my wildlife habitat.

Vocational/Occupational: I think that we can all agree that gardening brings us a

wonderful sense of accomplishment. Even if you are not a gardener, according to

the World Health Organization “growing a few plants could boost your self-esteem

and make you feel good to accomplish a new task and a sense of accomplishment.”

The next time you are talking with a friend or neighbor who claims to not have a

green thumb, share with them these benefits. And don’t forget to invite them to

attend a garden club meeting with you, because they don’t have to be a gardener

to enjoy it!

Article in Neighbors Newspaper, April 2017:

[This article appeared in the Neighbors Newspaper, September 2016]

Back to our Roots - Restoring One Garden at a Time 

Each year, the Temecula Valley Garden Club (TVGC) picks a theme as its focus for the year.  For the past few years, there has been a great emphasis on water wise gardens.  One of our goals is to soften the effects of a stark dessert scape of rock, sand, and a few flowers, and continue to maintain a minimal amount of water use by incorporating our California native plants into existing gardens to provide a more lush and natural habitat that is essential to our ecosystem.  

Our theme this year is, "Back to Our Roots - Restoring One Garden at a Time."  Our first meeting of 2016-2017 will be September 13, 2016, at 9:30 a.m.  TVGC has exciting new goals and informative educational speakers, which include programs such as "Certified Earth Friendly Gardening", "Butterfly Nourishing", "Backyard Barn Owls", "Growing Lavender", "Integrated Pest Management", and many more!  Meetings are held the second Tuesday of each month (except July and August) beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Community Recreation Center, 30865 Rancho Vista Road, Temecula.  New members and visitors are welcome. 

This Year we will be venturing into an area of gardening that is taking the Nation by storm, "Certified Earth Friendly Gardening" and "Certified Wildlife Habitat", restoring natural habitats in our personal gardens.  Both are quite easy to obtain, provided you follow their list of requirements.


As our Community Project this year, we look to Youth Gardening, reconnecting our youth to the world of greenery.  After all, the future will lie in their hands, and it is our responsibility to share our knowledge and love of gardens. We will be working with Paloma Elementary School and Rancho Damacitas, helping them to establish their gardens and teach them the basics of gardening.  If you are interested in participating with the Garden Club, through a monetary donation or a donation of plants, materials or services, please contact Judy Sundermann or Susan Puma.   The TVGC Is a California registered non-profit corporation organized and operated exclusively for charitable and educational purposes. All donations are tax deductible. 

Our trips and tours are fun and informative.  We will be visiting, "Tree of Life Nursery" in San Juan Capistrano, the "Lavender Fields" in Cherry Valley, and "Descanso Gardens" in Glendale.  We will also tour Jacob’s House in Temecula.  Their entrance garden was our community project last year and was a huge success. 

Garden workshops are held throughout the year, inviting members to join in the fun and get creative while learning new skills and creating unique items suitable for home or garden. 

The highlight of our year is our Flower Show, scheduled for April 29, 2017.  This year our Flower Show Chairperson has chosen, "The Beauty and the Bounty" for the theme.  The flower show is open to the public and all amateur gardeners, floral designers and photographers are welcome to enter their horticultural specimens, floral designs and photographs in the show. 

The Temecula Valley Garden Club is looking forward to another exciting and informative year.  We invite you to come join the fun.  For more information, visit – - and don't forget to like us on Facebook!


 SPREADING THE JOY OF GARDENS, September Issue 2015, Neighbors Newspaper

September brings the first hints of fall to the Temecula Valley:  a cool morning to enjoy before the warm winds begin to blow, yellow edged leaves that announce the beginning of fall colors, fat pumpkins lying heavy in the patch soaking in the last of the summer’s sun.  It is in the garden that we can best observe and most enjoy the changing seasons.

September is also the beginning of the program year for the Temecula Valley Garden Club (TVGC) and quite appropriately the theme for this year is “Spreading the Joy of Gardens.”  Inspired by this theme the club will plan its programs and events to encourage members to explore the process of creating and maintaining gardens, enjoy the beauty of nature, and use the products of their gardens such as flowers, fruits and vegetables to enrich their lives.  “We will also discuss conservation of our natural resources, particularly water, and ways to help our gardens flourish,” added co-presidents Cheryl Torres and Chris Curtis.

Established in 1981, the TVGC is organized and operated exclusively for charitable and educational purposes. The objectives of the club are to encourage interest in all phases of home gardening, to promote better horticultural practices and conservation of natural resources, and to aid community organizations whenever possible.

The activities and events planned for this year will certainly ensure that the TVGC meets its objectives.  Linda Powell, 1st Vice President in charge of programs has engaged a number of informative speakers for the club’s monthly meetings.  Be sure to check the Community Calendar each month to discover the topic to be presented.  Meetings are held the second Tuesday of each month (except National Holidays) beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Community Recreation Center, 30875 Rancho Vista Rd., Temecula.  Visitors are always welcome.

In addition to monthly meeting programs the TVGC has planned many garden workshops to inspire creativity in members and help them learn new skills.  Workshop leaders Carol Guerard and Patti Ritter revealed that projects include an outdoor succulent wall decoration, a charming hanging bird feeder, as well as a creative terra cotta pot planter and other projects.  The workshops are held usually in private homes where those attending have an opportunity not only to create something of beauty for their own home or garden, but also to become better acquainted with other members and make new friendships.

Included again in the program this year are the ever-popular TVGC Trips and Tours.  Several delightful excursions have been organized by TVGC members Jeanne Lish and Sue Hanson to encourage members and visitors to explore and enjoy gardens and nurseries developed by others. Among the places to be visited are the olive groves and oil production area of the Temecula Olive Oil Company, Myrtle Creek Nursery, and Carlsbad Flower Fields during the height of the Ranunculus bloom season.  Each of these trips will most certainly spread the joy of the gardens visited.

It is evident that the TVGC programs and activities provide much useful information, creative outlets and opportunities for meaningful social engagement for members and guests.  But more than all this, the club provides an opportunity for local residents who share an interest in gardening to come together and appropriately serve the community.  Some of the continuing projects in which the club actively participates are Petals for Patients (Hospice), development of the Southwest Botanical Garden, youth projects and scholarship program.

The culmination of the TVGC’s program year is the annual Flower Show, scheduled for May 9, 2015. The show is open to all amateur gardeners and floral designers in the community. Chairperson of the event Debra Jones points out that it is an opportunity for local gardeners to present their best horticultural exhibits and for designers to display their most creative floral designs. The Flower Show is presented according to National Garden Club standards and guidelines.  Exhibits are evaluated on standardized criteria by accredited judges and awards based upon merit. The Flower Show is a great opportunity for the entire community to see what grows best in the Temecula Valley and experience the joy of gardens


The Temecula Valley Garden Club is looking forward to an exciting, informative year.  If you are interested in attending a meeting or participating in their activities please visit their club website at: 

Press Release was published in several local newspapers in 2012:

The Temecula Valley Garden Club recently completed its community service project.

The group contributed $1,000 for the renovation of the Children's Garden at the Temecula Public Library on Pauba Road.

The landscape design was finalized by Susan Puma from an initial sketch design by Barbara Kennedy that was approved by the city of Temecula.

The plants were selected by a garden club committee to provide color and to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Library manager Rosie Vanderhaak thanked the club members with a giant, colorful card drawn and signed by the children who are reading in the colorful garden. 

Adults and children typically read in the garden. The Paws to Read program also uses the garden area for young readers to read aloud to licensed therapy dogs.