Find out what's blooming at Gamble!
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December 2019

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it's nice to take a breath and reflect on the gifts you've been given and give thanks for the people and the opportunities that have come your way. In that spirit of gratitude, we at Gamble Garden would like to express our appreciation for the unending support you've given to Gamble throughout the year. Whether you became a member, donated, read our Bloom Alert, attended our events, or simply visited the garden, your presence is a gift to those of us who work to see Gamble grow.
Thank you, and have a wonderful holiday season.

What's In Bloom

In bloom at Gamble, L-R: Camellia japonica 'Camellia japonica 'Conrad Hilton', Camellia 'Coral Delight' 

Using Color in your Photos


The holidays are awash in vibrant colors like red, green, blue, and gold. Add in family, friends, and beautiful backdrops, and you have all the elements you need to take a great photo. Below are three tips on how to use color in your photographs to create compelling images:

Use complementary colors
Colors opposing each other on the color wheel are complementary colors. Including complementary colors in a photograph can help create a vibrant image with naturally high color contrast (think orange sunsets in a blue sky, or a purple pansy with a yellow center, or red holly berries nestled among green leaves).  If you're not sure which colors to start with, use a color wheel to guide you.

Highlight a colored subject
Create a focal point by capturing your favorite color surrounded by a neutral shade. This will really make that color pop! Neutral shades include white, gray, black, or any color in deep shadow.

Feature One Dominant Color
For extra dramatic effect, allow one color to dominate your photograph and become its main subject. The next time you have your camera handy, try hunting down your favorite color and creating a photograph around it!

Upcoming Classes and Events

See Gamble's complete list of classes and events online.

January Second Saturday: Nature Hunt, Crafts, & More
Saturday, January 11, 2019, 10:00am - 11:30am
Cost: Free
Gamble Garden welcomes you to spend a beautiful January morning with us!  Come early and attend the ribbon cutting ceremony for our new Watershed Garden at 9:00 am. Explore our unique three-acre garden on a guided garden tour for adults or nature hunt for families.  Enjoy hands-on activities. This month’s theme is “Tremendously Terrific Trees!”

Cold Process Soap Making
Thursday, January 23, 2020, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Cost: $25 Palo Alto residents / $35 non-residents

Learn the art of making soap from scratch by cold process. Class includes instruction, demonstration, and hands-on activities. Supplies and equipment provided. Students will take home a variety of soap samples. There is a $20 materials fee, payable at the beginning of the class. Sign up for this class via the City of Palo Alto Recreation Department.

Chocolate Tasting Workshop
Thursday, February 6, 7:00pm-8:30pm
Cost: $35 Members / $45 Non-members
Welcome, chocolate lovers!  In this workshop, you will learn about the history of chocolate and how chocolate is produced. You will also learn how to distinguish between different styles and producers of chocolate around the world. You will refine your palate in a blind tasting of various single origin chocolates.

Botanical Block Printing Workshop
Saturday, February 22, 9:30am-11:30am
Cost: $35 Members / $45 Non-members

Create unique botanical prints with inspiration from Gamble's flora! Instructor Charles Woodruff Coates will lead a tour of the gardens, teaching students how to draw from observations, transform their drawings into stamps, and create prints.

Why Are These Oak Trees Painted White?


As you walk around Gamble Garden, you may notice white bands painted on the trunks of some of the trees around Gamble Garden. Some of our coast live oak trees have a bark canker disease that has required treatment by an arborist. This bark canker may be related to Sudden Oak Death, which is known to affect our local wild oak trees. However, the disease can also be spread to urban environments by contaminated shoes.

To remove the disease, the infected tissue is cut away, and the trunk is treated with fire from a blow torch to sanitize the wound and mimic the natural fire cycle. Then, an antiseptic lime whitewash is applied to the lower trunk to help prevent additional infection. Click here to learn more about ways to prevent the spread of Sudden Oak Death.

Holiday Arrangement Maintenance Tips
from the Flower Arrangers at Gamble Garden

There's nothing like the sight and scent of fresh flowers to bring out the spirit  of the season in your home -- but without proper maintenance, even the freshest floral arrangements can lose their dazzle by the 12th Day of Christmas. Gamble's Floral Arranging Committee shares some tips for keeping your floral arrangements looking merry and bright for the holidays and beyond:
  1. Strip the stems/branches of any foliage that will be below the water line in the arrangement. It can be helpful to make about a 1/2 inch split in the end of very woody branches allowing for more water to be taken in.
  2. Always, always give your flowers and foliage a big drink of water and change the water every few days.
  3. Commercial flower food will help extend the life of the arrangement.
  4. At Gamble Garden we normally do not use oasis (floral foam) in the arrangements because flowers drink better and last longer in clear water.

December Gardening Tips

from the Garden Club of Palo Alto

At this time of the year, many plants will be dormant or growing very slowly -- but there's still plenty to do in your garden. Below, the Garden Club of Palo Alto's Vicki Sullivan shares some tips to keep your garden looking its best during the winter and get a head start for the spring.

Prune, prune, prune
December is a good time to prune fruit trees. Is your fruit tree too tall? Pick a height and stick to it by lopping and topping the branches that shoot straight up. I especially target my Meyer lemon bushes, to keep then bushy instead of tall. In addition, I prune my hydrangeas in December, to remove dead wood and help shape the bush. I like more flowers so I prune somewhat more drastically than others would prune.

Add winter blooms
Camellia sasanqua and early flowering C. japonica should be blooming now. C. sasanqua are a great choice for winter color, either in containers or as a color spot for winter cheer. They tolerate more sun than C.japonicas. Right after they bloom, camellias, rhodies, and azaleas develop green growth and new buds for next year. So feed and prune them. Lightly pinch the growth tip right after blooming to encourage bushy, compact growth. Mulch all your acid-loving plants to insure that their soil holds moisture and retains a slight acidity. Also, don’t forget cyclamen and hellebores to brighten winter days. Cyclamen belong in a sunnier location than hellebores, that need partial to deep shade.

Maintain your tools
Get those pruning clippers, shears, hoes, shovels sharpened. Palo Alto Hardware has a sharpener who comes to the store on a regular basis.

Plan for spring
If you do not have the energy or time to do any of the above, please consider MULCH, my favorite 5-letter word, for any bare soil areas, especially like dead lawn. You will reap the benefits in springtime: mulch reduces soil erosion, smothers weeds, holds in moisture.

Many thanks to Vicki Sullivan and the Garden Club of Palo Alto for sharing these tips!

Master Gardener Program Resumes February 2020

The Master Gardener Hotline and Weekly Plant Clinic will be taking a winter break in December 2019 and January 2020. The program will resume on Friday, February 7, 2020. Thanks to the UC Master Garden Program for providing this free service to the community. Special thanks to Judith Cody & David Peterson for staffing the walk-in Plant Clinics at Gamble Garden on Second Saturday mornings in 2019! We look forward to benefiting from your expertise in the New Year.

Give the Gift of Membership 


Support Gamble Garden! Gift a loved one with a Gamble Garden Membership or become a member yourself. Membership benefits include:
  • Invitations to member-only events
  • Member pricing on Spring Tour tickets, luncheons, classes, and programs
  • Free entry to select gardens with the American Horticultural Society reciprocal program
  • Priority registration for our popular Gamble luncheons
  • Discounts at nursery partners
  • Monthly Member Newsletter with members-only content
As a member, you are helping us continue to offer events like our free Second Saturday events and many more. In addition, you are supporting a treasured community resource, a beautiful public property open to everyone and offering year-round activities - and a haven - for all ages. 
Become a Member
Gamble Garden website
The Gamble office is open Monday - Friday, 9:00am-2:00pm
Please visit our website at

Cover photo by Ana Picazo

Copyright © 2019 Gamble Garden, All rights reserved.

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