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Yvonne Savio
Sub-Region: Los Angeles Coastal, Inland
State: California
Business: Program Manager, Master Gardener Coordinator - Common Ground Garden Program, University of California Cooperative Extension, Los Angeles County

Yvonne's Monthly Plant Care Recommendations:

Biographical Information

I grew up on a 3/4-acre hillside city lot in Pasadena, growing fruits, vegetables, and flowers year-round in manure- and compost-amended gardens. From years of gardening, I know what "harvested at the perfect moment of ripeness" means and is passionate about enabling others to enjoy the benefits of "growing your own." I love growing just about anything, especially vegetables and fruits, annuals and drought-tolerant perennials, cactus, succulents, bromeliads, ground covers, and roses.

I earned degrees in journalism, literature, art, photography, and horticulture. After teaching junior high school, I worked in the Botany and Vegetable Crops Cooperative Extension Departments at the University of California, Davis. Starting in 1984, I contributed weekly gardening columns, features, and photographs to local northern California and national newspapers, magazines, journals, and newsletters.

In 1994, I moved back to her childhood home in Pasadena and revitalized the Master Gardener Volunteer Training Program for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County. I edited the third edition of Children's Gardens: A Guide for Teachers, Parents, and Volunteers.As Common Ground Garden Program Manager, I oversee the Master Gardener Program (seasonal gardening workshops), School Garden Consultants Program (school gardens assistance), Community Gardens Program (community garden assistance, and roster of all active county gardens open to the public), Senior Initiative workshops with seniors), Low-Income Housing Initiative (workshops at housing developments), all working primarily with low-income county residents. Our newest project for 2010 is our Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative (15 Master Gardeners leading Neighborhood Garden Circles throughout LA County).

I was on the board of the American Community Gardening Association for two years and continue to advise community gardeners nationwide. I'm a member of the University of California Garden-Based Learning Workgroup, UC Urban Horticulture Workgroup, and the California School Garden Network ( ).

Where can members get more of your advice?
Yvonne's monthly gardening tips and many other articles and photographs are found on the University of California Cooperative Extension Los Angeles County Web site and the National Gardening website .

Background Information

  Yvonne's Favorite Websites

LA County Cooperative Extension
Our own -- information is the result of my 30 years of gardening in my Pasadena hillside garden, and 15 years in my Davis garden.

National Gardening Association
Lots of great resource info and for which I write the biweekly Southern California Coastal and Inland Valleys Regional Report.

Organic Gardening
  Lots of great resource info.

Briefly describe the climate where you garden now (climate zone, state, area) and any other areas where you have gardened in the past.
Los Angeles area:  USDA zone 9/10, and Davis area:  USDA zone 8/9.

How long have you been gardening?
50 years.

What triggered your interest?
My parents grew most of our fruits and vegetables, and I grew up knowing what "pick something for dinner" meant -- the perfect moment to harvest!

What is your specialty, expertise or claim to fame?
Helping gardeners to garden more successfully, and have great fun doing it -- we're all playing in our Garden of Life!

What formal education do you have?
BA, Literature, BA Journalism, AA Horticulture, Lifetime Secondary Teaching Credential and a AA Horticulture
What is your favorite garden or plant-related topic? Tell us a little about them.
Growing food, helping other people to garden more successfully.

What is your biggest gardening pet peeve? Tell us about it.
Anyone insisting that their gardening technique is absolutely the only way.

How much time per week do you spend gardening?
Depending on the season, 20 hours per week in spring and fall, 2 hours per week in summer and winter.

How much time per week do you spend working at the business of gardening,such as consulting, reading, writing or talking about your gardening subject?
I'm lucky enough to have a paid job doing this, besides my "own" time, so perhaps 60 hours per week.

What gardening or horticultural clubs, societies, or organizations (or any other interest) do you belong to?
American Community Gardening Association , American Horticulture Society, California School Garden Network - Los Angeles Chapter

Gardening Questions

What do you like most about gardening?
Playing with plants and people, and eating what we grow.

What do you dislike most about gardening?
My back doesn't let me do all the physical work I used to do.

What individual has influenced your gardening interest the most? How?
My parents -- father who tended the fruit trees, and mother who did everything else, including wonderful cooking utilizing all the wonders from our garden.

What is your favorite place or activity in the garden?
Anywhere that I find some tidbit that needs doing -- digging, planting, pruning, mulching, composting…

What is your favorite time in the garden?
Early evening -- perfect time for transplanting to allow plants to settle in overnight, mild lighting for pruning and harvesting and generally fussing over plants.

What is your favorite public or private garden in the world? Why?
All community and allotment gardens in America, Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy

What is your favorite color in the garden?
Whatever's ripe and ready to harvest!

If you could grow only one plant, what would it be?
Lettuce -- varieties go year 'round

Do you have a gardening philosophy you would like to share with other gardeners? What is it?
Have a wonderful time exploring and playing in the garden -- it's all an adventure!  

What group or kind of person do you think would benefit most from the advice you can give on gardening?
Everyone -- individual possibilities are endless, and very personal!

Would you like to participate, or can you recommend someone who you think should? We're always looking for more expert gardeners to tell about their philosophies and give their plant recommendations contact us and we'll get started (it's easy and a great way to promote yourself).