Patty McHugh
“If I’m ever reborn, I want to be a gardener – there’s too much to do for one lifetime!” Karl Forester

When this pandemic has run its course and life slowly begins to return to normal, it’s easy to overlook the other upheavals we experienced in 2020. Let’s not! We can learn from them and increase our chances of staying safe. Most notably was the Glass fire that came so close to destroying our great community and forced the second mass evacuation of Oakmont. After the 2017 fires, much was written about ways to fire-safe our homes; recommendations by the SRFD and Cal-Fire, as well as the OVA, were repeated over and over. A good many Oakmonters began to make suggested changes to their landscapes based on these fire-safe guidelines, but sadly, not enough. Now, to ensure Oakmont’s future safety, the OVA has had to mandate those changes. It’s encouraging to see many homes where work is underway. To the rest of us, let’s get started now and not put the burden on the OVA staff and volunteers to impose compliance. Please make converting your landscape to a fire-safe one your priority in 2021. Encourage your neighbors and friends to do the same. Once you start, you’re sure to feel the excitement change can bring about. You’ll be proud of the new landscape and glad to be rid of the yesteryear look of your home. And, most importantly, you’ll be contributing to our community’s future safety.


• Prune out deadwood in your shrubs and trees, and limb-up your trees.
• Prune trees and shrubs to improve airflow.
• Shop for bareroot plants and trees – in nurseries now.
• Begin to remove bark (and other flammable ground cover) within the 5-foot perimeter of your home.
• This is a good month to cut back your ornamental grasses, before they start new growth for the year. Do so as early as you can; by the end of February, it may be too late.
• It seems like it took a long time this autumn for the leaves to stop falling, so most of us still have leaf clean-up, even though we’ve probably done it several times already. Keep at it. It’s OK to grumble as you work.
• During a break in the weather, start cleaning up your garden beds to get a head start on planting season.
• The first application of horticultural oil dormant spray for roses and fruit trees should be done this month. Other mineral solutions like sulfur, lime and copper sulfate can be combined with the oil.


We need gardens! If you would like to share your garden with other Oakmonters, or you know of someone who has a lovely Oakmont garden and may want to share, let us know. We won’t begin work on putting together a tour until we have some commitments. Contact Patty McHugh,, 494-3289.


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