PO Box 166,  

Mountain View, CA 94042


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Join us for monthly Western Hort programs designed to inform, educate and inspire the dedicated plant lover. Admission is $10 for non-members and FREE for WHS members.


Meetings are held 9 times a year on the second Wednesday of the month and feature a lecture and slide presentation by a guest horticultural specialist. Each program also includes a member-led discussion and demonstration of unusual plants, as well as a plant sale of diverse plant varieties donated by members and local nurseries. All are welcome!


Current meeting location:   Los Altos Youth Center (LAYC), 1 N San Antonio Rd, Los Altos, CA 94022 
Meeting time:                        Doors open at 7pm, meeting begins at 7:30pm

Admission:                             $10 non-members; FREE members

If you enjoy the talks given at our meetings and want to help the Western Horticultural Society sustain our program, you might like to sponsor one of our speakers! Your donation helps cover the costs of hosting a speaker and we will note your name as sponsor in our newsletter. You can choose the month or speaker of your choice or perhaps you have a speaker you would like to propose? Contact Leslie Dean lesliekdean@mindspring.com with donations or questions.   

November 13, 2019

Growing Rare Fruit from Around the World

With Brian Lavin

Brian Lavin will be speaking about rare fruits that can be grown in California. He will touch briefly on how he and others select potential fruits to try based on geography. Brian will then talk about species of different rare fruits that can be grown in the state with an emphasis on those that he has personally tried growing or has seen fruiting in the state. He will also describe different techniques and tips that can be utilized in the attempt to grow and fruit these unusual species in the Bay Area. 

Brian Lavin is an evolutionary biologist who got into fruit growing for fun. His horticultural interests involve growing all kinds of fruit, but especially less common species from around the world that can grow in a California Zone 9-10. Brian has traveled throughout the state viewing private collections, nurseries and botanical gardens in order to find out what can grow here. This interest eventually led to him becoming current chapter chair of the Golden Gate California Rare Fruit Growers. 

December 11, 2019

The Earth in Her Hands: 75 Extraordinary Women
Working in the World of Plants

With Jennifer Jewell

Focusing in a wholly unique way on how horticulture intersects with our every day world and on women whose work has enriched and expanded these intersections in the last 25 years, her book The Earth in Her Hands: 75 Extraordinary Women Working in the World of Plants explores and celebrates how the plant world is improved by not only greater representation of women generally but also by diversity amongst those women. It chronicles how working in the world of plants is a more viable and creative career path for women than ever before and how the plant-work world is demonstrating greater social and environmental responsibility, in large part due to women’s contributions. These profiles of women doing current and innovative work in all fields horticultural often represent larger issues or shifts in our world. The work of these women illustrates how the many challenges of our world can and are being met through cultivating an interdependence with plants. 

Jennifer Jewell is the creator/host of Cultivating Place, an award-winning public radio program & podcast on natural history and the human impulse to garden. Her first book, The Earth In Her Hands, 75 Extraordinary Women Working in the World of Plants, is due out in early 2020 from Timber Press.

January 8, 2020

Professional Secrets for Successful Succulent Propagation

With Aaron Ryan

Succulents are everywhere these days. They are easy to grow, and most, such as Sedum and Sempervivum are easily propagated. But what do the professionals do when they need to produce larger volumes or have succulents which prove difficult to produce via vegetative means? Join us as Aaron Ryan presents advanced propagation techniques for succulents that can be used by the home gardener to increase their personal plant collection and for sharing with others. He will perform a hands-on demonstration with plant material along with Power Point slides, first showing vegetative techniques: grafting, de-heading and apical core drilling. The second part of the discussion will focus on seed propagation of succulents.


Aaron Ryan's pathway into horticulture began in 2000, when I took up a position as a work study student at the UCSC Arboretum, eventually transitioning into a full-time employee focusing most of my time in the California native garden. It was at the UCSC Arboretum where I met Steve McCabe, curator of succulents and where my interest in succulents first sparked. After several years of working in various retail nurseries and as production manager for a grower in the North Bay, I took on the position of General Manager at Succulent Gardens in Monterey County. Here I was able to utilize my propagation experience as a production manager to focus solely on succulents, and to acquire new tricks and techniques along the way. I currently work as Director of Inventory for Devil Mountain Wholesale Nursery in the North Bay, where succulents continue to play an active role in my life.

February 12, 2020

Tomato Mastery: Best Practices for Productivity
and Healthy Plants

With Cynthia Sandberg

Cynthia Sandberg will discuss her tried and true secrets for growing 12 foot tall tomatoes with hundreds of fruit per plant.


Cynthia Sandberg began her professional career as a trial attorney, but then transitioned to becoming a farmer. She partnered with world-renowned Manresa restaurant for over a decade and produced all of their fruits, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers to form one of the first truly farm-to-table collaborative partnerships. She is a sought after garden speaker and lectures around the world. Her farm, Love Apple Farm, hosts dozens of gardening classes in addition to a tomato plant sale, the largest such annual spring plant sale in California.

March 11, 2020

Build It And They Will Come:
Creating a Native Garden Buzzing With Pollinators

With Juanita Salisbury

A well-designed habitat provides not only food resources but area for nesting and shelter for a variety of insects.  At the heart of the habitat are native California plants, which provide the basis of design. California native plants provide a rich variety of food resources--nectar, pollen and vegetation--for native insects.  We will first learn design techniques based on the foraging behavior of native bees and other insects. The design technique starts with planting, but extends into observation and best practices for maintaining and enhancing habitat resources over time.


Juanita Salisbury was always a landscape architect, although she didn't always know it. She grew up in California and Oregon and planted her first garden at age 11. Juanita first received a Ph. D. Biopsychology from the University of Florida (1988) as well as a Bachelor of Science (Summa cum laude) in Landscape Architecture from West Virginia University (2000). She established Juanita Salisbury Landscape Architecture in 2009 after working in commercial and residential design firms. Juanita recently turned her focus to California native plant habitats and in 2016 established the Primrose Way Pollinator Garden, the first of four pollinator habitat gardens in Palo Alto. Her focus is on teaching about and research of these habitats, as well as exploring opportunities to install more of them.

April 8, 2020

Designing with Palms: From Tiny Understory Gems
to Perfect Small-Garden Trees

With Jason Dewees

Jason Dewees, author of the AHS Book Award-winning Designing with Palms (Timber Press), will address the many inventive and essential ways palms can contribute to gardens and landscapes in California and the Bay Area. He will discuss less-common (and often better-adapted) species for local climates, and the basic cultural needs many seasoned gardeners remain unaware of. The power of palms in landscape design arises from their iconic architecture. Palms occupy a place at the root of Western horticulture; date palms are the oasis tree. Naturally, the palm's beauty and utility earned it a place inside early Fertile Crescent gardens, the source of our Western garden traditions. Instantly recognizable, palms get lost in the glare of their own beauty while dwelling in our historical unconscious. They're superior performers whose fame might distract from their roles were it not for a director's guidance. Our job with palms is to be that director in the garden. Too often we Californians have leaned on the symbolic value of palms, subjecting them to unconsidered uses. We've been passing over their particular aesthetic qualities and contributions, skipping the lessons of palmier parts of the world, and ignoring the varied cultural needs and tolerances of the 100+ species that can be cultivated in Bay Area gardens.


Jason Dewees is the horticulturist and palm expert at Flora Grubb Gardens. He has consulted on palm collections of the Conservatory of Flowers, UC Botanical Garden, and San Francisco Botanical Garden, trained volunteers and docents on the palm family, grown thousands of palms from seed, planted palms in gardens, consulted with gardeners, landscape architects and designers on using palms in the landscape, and lectured on palms. Jason joined the Northern California Chapter of the International Palm Society at age 17 as their youngest member and offers a very local point of view on palms for Bay Area climates.

May 13, 2020

Dry Gardens: High Style for Low Water Gardens

With Daniel Nolan


Landscape designer Daniel Nolan will presenting a collection of gardens from his book with Rizzoli, Dry Gardens: High Style for Low Water Gardens. Each of the gardens represents a different climate and palette of plants that could be used in the Bay Area, from Texas Hill Country to Palm Springs and even Florida. Featuring the photography of Caitlin Atkinson, the presentation will cover some of Nolan’s own work as well as the work of other notable landscape designers and architects.


Daniel Nolan's work is known for combining lush plantings with minimalist hardscapes, and credits his almost 10 years at the famed Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco as his masterclass in plant identification and selection. His work now appears in some of the Bay Area's most beautiful homes and properties and has been featured in Martha Stewart Living, Vogue, Elle Decor and Sunset Magazine.

June 2020      Members Only   


Date and location TBD in Spring 2020 - stay tuned!