January 2012 Bulletin


January in the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden

The monthy bulletin of the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, all-volunteer managed garden.  

IN THIS ISSUE: Hellebores (Helleborus lividus,) Frost, Red Hot Pokers and more.

Toyon- Christmas Holly Bush

The appearance of the bright red berries on the Christmas Holly Bush, otherwise know as Toyon, marks our Holiday Season at the garden. They are California natives and a part of the large diverse Rosaceae or rose family, often found in the same area as wild roses and California blackberries.

Early Californians gathered the berries and branches for decorations, until they almost disappeared. The state finally passed a law in 1920 protecting the colorful and popular Holly Bush or Toyon. Beware, the berries are better left for the birds to eat, as they contain cyanide compounds.

Take a January walk through our Tranquility Garden to see Toyon bushes, then up to the top of the hill for a view of possible snow capped mountains in the distance. Donʼt forget to take a camera!

    -Sandy Krutilek



by Barbara Song, CVBG Volunteer

Jack Frost is visiting many Southern California gardens of late. We certainly do have seasonal climate changes. After a stunning fall color panorama, we now replace the dismal look of frost bite with holiday decor, a nice distraction.

Common advice on dealing with sad-looking plants is to leave them untouched until the winter months have passed. It is hard to resist the temptation to prune away the brown but a beloved plant that will survive can be made more presentable with just the leaves removed. This presents an opportunity for filling in some spots with the cold weather favorites that are tough enough to give us some color. The nurseries begin to feature hardy annuals and perennials. Some geraniums seem to over winter by dressing up in red and green leaf tones, primroses are lush with deep green foliage Toyon (Christmas Holly Bush) Heteromeles arbutifolia Photo by Jim Cyr and assorted bloom colors and there has never been a year that has produced such an array of poinsettias with bracts of every color combination to fit any holiday display.

Enjoy your own creative options! Happy New Year to All our Garden Friends.


What's in a Name?

by Diane Conejo

helleborus lividus

Poinsettias favor bright light; when placed in bright entryways or windows indoors or lining a sunny bed outdoors they will add a touch of festivity. Hellebores, however, thrive in a spot outdoors that provides partial to full shade (i.e. under oak trees), good air circulation and well-drained soil that has been amended with organic matter. (Some species need alkaline soil.) Their foliage and woodland effect is enhanced by the addition of ferns or other moisture-loving perennials. There is a Hellebore that can take more sun; Sunset has labeled Corsican Hellebore (Helleborus argutifolius) “the best Hellebore for Southern California”. (The species name ʻargutifoliusʼ refers to sharply-pointed leaves.) Poinsettias are offered in many other colors now, thanks to hybridization. Hellebores come in many shades also; one of my favorites is the Helleborus lividus ʻPink Marbleʼ (ʻlividusʼ meaning leadcolored, dark gray or blue, referring to its leaves) which carries a pale chartreuse green flower, touched with mauve on the undersides.

Just a quick warning, there is one Hellebore whose name says it all. It is the Helleborus foetidus or “Bearʼs -Foot Hellebore. The word foetidus means “stinking” and it gives off a malodorous scent when the leaves are crushed, so DO NOT plant near a footpath! It will give your holiday guests pause as they walk to your door craving the scents of the season! Happy New Year!


Red Hot Poker

Sunday Plant Sales

 Red Hot Poker (kniphofia uvaria

Our featured plant again this month is the stunning Red Hot Poker. They are in full bloom and will continue to bloom through December. According to Irene Benyoung, they are being sold in gallon containers and will be discounted. 

Plant sales are held every Sunday at the CVBG from 10:30-2:30 in the area next to the Kids' Adventure Garden, located at 350 W. Gainsborough Rd. California natives, hardy, water wise perennials, shrubs, trees and succulents, reasonably priced are available. CVBG volunteers will be happy to help you with selections and share their expertise. 


Pink Ball Tree (Dombeya wallichii)

Birthday Parties 

The birthday parties held at the KAG on Saturdays have become very popular. So popular that Betty needs more volunteers to give her some help. It is a lot of fun and not too much work. Sometimes the kids come in costumes, depending on what the 'theme' of the party may be. The adults set up and take down the tables and chairs. There is a donation to use the garden. You help by keep your eyes on the kids as they get excited about having a party at the KAG. Sometimes you even get a piece of birthday cake. If you are willing to help by giving a few hours of your time, give Betty a call at 1-818-889-0560. 


Want to Help us Grow?

Do you love Conejo Valley Botanic Garden and would like to help, but just don't have the time to volunteer? Even though much of the work you see going on in the garden is done by volunteers, we still have expenses for planting, heavy pruning and new improvements. These projects are funded through grants and donations from the community.  If you would like to help us grow, tax deductible donations are always welcome and may be made out and sent to Conejo Valley Botanic Garden, PO Box 6614, Thousand Oaks, CA 91359. Thanks for all your support!


The Conejo Valley Botanic Garden Needs YOU!

The Garden is managed and maintained by community volunteers. Without your help, the garden cannot thrive. None of the volunteer positions at CVBG has a minimum number of volunteer hours attached. If you can help for a few hours a month, great! For more information on any of our volunteer opportunities, please click here.




Assistant to the Volunteer Coordinator:  Help recruit new volunteers and match them with garden jobs they might enjoy.

Adopt A Garden: We have an ongoing need for volunteers to join the teams working in our theme gardens. Days and hours are flexible so give us a call.

Garden Nursery: There is no better way to lean about California native and water wise plants than to join the teams working in the propagation and sales nurseries.

The Kids Adventure Garden:  KAG is open from 11:00 to 3:00 each Sunday.  Docents welcome families to the garden, answer questions and ensure everyone is safe and has fun. You will train with an experienced Docent. You can sign up for one shift a month or as many as you want.  Email: conejogarden1623@hotmail.com

January, 2012