Waldron Landscape

We are a full service Sonoma Valley landscape company equipped for any residential or commercial project, large or small.  Our services include consultation to full design, through construction, and regular maintenance.  We also provides one-time cleanups, garden renovations, high weed mowing, and emergency irrigation repairs.

We are fully insured and licensed in landscape architecture, construction and maintenance.
Contact us today to discuss your needs:
(707) 996-5868

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Wednesday
Feb062013

FEBRUARY 2013 NEWSLETTER

                 

            A very wet December was followed by a dry January. Now we’re beginning to worry that if February is also dry, the gardens under our care may need a little irrigation. In nine years out of ten we can go from December till March without any supplemental water. I asked Raffa, who is our maintenance supervisor, to tell the crews to open valves manually as needed, especially for lawns and container plants. Trees and shrubs should be ok for another month since they have deeper root systems and in many cases are dormant. It’s important for each home owner to monitor individual water needs. A simple way to take care of this situation is to simply turn your irrigation timer from ‘off-stop’ to ‘run’ for a day or two. After the timer goes thru one or two cycles, just turn it off and pray for rain. If your prayers are unanswered and the clouds withhold their moisture, wait two weeks and run another cycle. Evaporation is slow this time of year, so a watering (or a nice rain) once every two weeks should keep all the plants going strong and more able to stand up to the cold weather. Container plants are very vulnerable to drying out and should be hand watered twice a week.

            Juan Escobar, installation man and main musician in the company band, returned from Mexico after a six week visit to his family and friends there. I don’t know which was more impressive: his tan or his smile. Jose Hernandez, the installation supervisor (and drummer in the same band) was mighty glad to see him. Work is picking up pretty quickly and the experienced men will be going 100%. Two maintenance men, Pablo Sosa and Gerardo (Jerry) Garcia, are still working on their tans in the sunny south. Pablo is no doubt tending his small herd of cows at his famous ‘Rancho California’ and Jerry is trying to finish his house, which has been under construction for many years. In Mexico, housing bubbles don’t happen because a loan to build a home is almost unheard of, unless you have mega pesos. I know of at least four of our guys who are plugging away on home building the old fashioned way: one wall at a time. My brother Dan and Jose have been running the day to day business operations for over a year now. I pretend to be in charge about once a week; and I do mean pretend. These guys are doing such a good job that the best thing I can do is stay out of the way. Since the economy is improving, we’re seeing an increase in commercial design work, which keeps me busy. The state requires a licensed landscape architect on projects over three thousand square feet, so I’ll carve out my niche there.

            Jose, Dan and I were discussing company policy the other day. I told Dan he could write the newsletter if he cared to do so. Jose got a little nervous and said, ‘Senor, what about the cats?’ Oh, yes the cats. You see, Dan has a little problem in that area. He is a dog guy and has an old, deaf terrier named Katy and a Chihuahua named Coco. It behooves me to confess that when Dan and I were originally partners in the late 1970s, he had an Irish setter named Nate who was our mascot of sorts. Nate’s big red face even got full page exposure in a Waldron Brothers Landscape ad in the Sonoma High School Yearbook. It’s even possible that Nate may have inadvertently pushed me to fancy cats. It might have been his drooling or hyperactivity…who can say? The question is: how do we continue with our current company karma without causing a war between cat and dog lovers?  Once again Jose came to the fore. ‘Senor, Dan feeds a stray cat here at the yard every morning. We’ll name it ‘Vagabundo’ and everything will be OK.’ Saved by Vagabundo.  Maybe we can now keep our company culture in place and now embrace both dogs and cats. Shouldn’t  be any problems.

 ‘Hey, Slimfast, why are you leaving the office?  Come back here. There’s nothing wrong with dogs! Here kitty, kitty…come on back!

 

Thursday
Nov292012

ANOTHER GREAT YEAR AT WALDRON LANDSCAPING

 

 

            WALDRON LANDSCAPING NEWSLETTER-DEC. 2012

            www.waldronlandscape.com          walplant@vom.com

 

 

 

            I hope everyone had a pleasant Thanksgiving and will have a good Christmas season. As always, I want to thank each of you for providing so much employment for the crew in 2012. I know I extend their thanks as well. We’ll go into the next year with renewed energy to serve you better than ever. My crew is maturing in more ways than one. Nacho and I are facing the dreaded prospect of being old enough to collect social security. Francisco (Kiko) Garcia and his wife Ester had a baby girl, Jimena, in November, reminding me once again of the importance our little company plays in their lives, as we try to provide a living wage, Kaiser, 401K plans and vacation time. Little did I know what I was getting into when I began to hire these guys when they were young and single. It’s a big family here. Ester is the sister of our four Salas brothers. Nothing we do for the employees would be possible without you: again, a very big thank you.

            There’s lots of room for appreciation around here. I’d probably be cutting out paper dolls in some dark corner if it weren’t for Susan Norton’s fabulous office staff at Premier Business Services. They answer the phones, do the payroll, send out the bills and everything else that has an 8 by 11 inch sheet of paper attached to it. My managers have done more than ever to keep me relatively sane. Jose Hernandez has impressed everyone with his ability to push installations from design thru construction in such a client friendly way, that they send letters in praise of Jose and his crew. His brother, Octavio, has taken on more leadership, giving Jose the help he needs, especially when we are juggling six or seven jobs. My brother Dan, with his experience building custom homes, has helped Jose with lighting, drainage and carpentry. Rafael continues to do the large scale maintenance projects with his usual good nature. His crew and clients alike, find it a pleasure to work with him. The two-team maintenance crews and our irrigation specialist, Juvenal, do such steady and reliable work that, even when I am cutting out paper dolls, I am rarely disturbed.

            Let me end on a feline note. Slimfast, the sixteen year old elder statesman of my wife Marcie’s and my cat world, was joined by the adopted and lovely Bella last year. They have grown to accept each other. Now, another black and white cat has shown up on the back deck for an occasional snack. By occasional, I mean two full meals a day. We’ve discovered her name is Diva, a thirteen year old who left her previous home years ago because of a territorial dispute with a male cat which lived in the same house. Slim and Bella are always at the back door, peering thru the glass when Diva arrives for snacks, and both seem quite curious. My question is: how many cats have to ingratiate themselves into your life and pantry before you become a cat enabler? I hope it’s more than three.

            Once again, many thanks and have a great 2013.

Wednesday
Aug012012

A Flurry of New Installations

WALDRON LANDSCAPING NEWSLETTER • AUGUST 2012
www.WaldronLandscape.com    WalPlant@vom.com

           This is the time of year when our installation manager Jose Hernandez is pushed to the limit. This summer is even busier than previous ones here in our little sanctuary of  the Sonoma Valley. Jose is working his guys six days a week and scheduling like mad to keep the four or five jobs he works concurrently running on schedule. He’s booked up about a month ahead. Other workers handle the smaller more immediate jobs such as repairs and cleanups on a daily basis. I’ve even requested that Silvina text us important calls immediately so we can get to some of them the same day. Jose has hired summer help to keep pace with the hectic season. If he appears a little dazed and overwhelmed at times tell him to take a deep breath and think of how nice it will be in winter when installations slow down.

            Having Silvina text us directly in the field with special requests and emergency calls reminded me of how much business communication has changed in the few weeks since I started landscaping 38 years ago. (OK it only seems like a few weeks) Back then, I would call the Sonoma Valley Secretarial Service each evening after work to get my messages. Cell phones and answering machines hadn’t even arrived. Only Paul Drake, Perry Mason’s investigator, had a shoe box sized phone in his Thunderbird. Once in a long while I would be forced to use a pay phone during the day. Somehow, everything seemed to work pretty smoothly. One of the ladies who first answered our phone at the secretarial service was a mere youngster, Connie Pruitt. When Susan Norton bought the company, she expanded its services into accounting and office management and changed the name to Premier Business Services. Connie stayed on with Susan and although Connie doesn’t sit in front of an antiquated switchboard plugging in phone lines anymore, she now takes care of our payroll, 401K, and all the myriad paperwork required by insurance companies that cause most gardeners to go into a state of irreversible catalepsy. So, yes, the world is now so full of tweets, texts, emails, and just plain old cell phone calls that it doesn’t even faintly resemble the simple switchboard world of 1974.

            If you are wondering why you haven’t seen the smiling faces of Francisco and Enrique Salas lately, well, they fled to Mexico for a month of vacation to visit relatives in the Guadalajara area. Francisco even took his wife and kids. So far, we hear they’re having a great time. Return is August 11th. By then, Jose may have forgiven his brother in law Francisco for vacationing during the busy season, leaving our overworked installation chief short handed and stressed. Now Jose is probably secretly planning his own Mexican vacation to recover from the woes everyone else’s vacations have caused him. It’s a vicious vacation cycle around here. We’ve got to keep the guys from becoming overloaded, and paid holidays and vacations are a great help in that regard. We need them to be happy and productive. I’m sure you’ll agree, there is nothing worse than an overworked gardener suffering from catalepsy.

Friday
Jun012012

Summer in Sonoma Valley ~ Perennial Care

WALDRON LANDSCAPING NEWSLETTER • JUNE 2012
www.WaldronLandscape.com    WalPlant@vom.com

            We had a little company barbeque on Friday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend here at the corporation yard for all the guys.  As they drifted in from their various landscaping and gardening jobs throughout Sonoma Valley, they quickly bellied up to the big barbeque that head chef Elias had fired up, and began taste-testing his specially seasoned beef, chicken, tortillas and vegetables, hot off the grill. Juan, his son Juan, and Tavo set up their musical instruments and were soon playing their repertoire of songs. The nearest neighbor is half a mile away, so the volume was on high. Little Juan is an excellent drummer for a fourteen year old. Juan Sr. does the singing and plays keyboards. Tavo plays keyboards as well. The party was, as is always the case, very casual. The only possible problems we might have are when half the guys start taking over from the iron chef Elias and the other half move Juan from his microphone and try to sing. By the end of the afternoon, peace still reigned and pretty much everyone had taken a turn either grilling or warbling, or both.

Perennial Garden            Late spring in Sonoma Valley is a great time to begin cutting back some perennials, dead-heading others, setting the irrigation schedule for hotter weather, and monitoring plants for fungus and insects. When pruning many perennials, it’s sometimes a good idea to really get after the fastest growers with the pruning shears. They might look a little destroyed for a few weeks, but come back much fuller and sometimes with more blooms. The alstroemerias, for example, like to have the entire flowering stalk pulled from the ground. This is one of the best cut flowers around. The penstemons should also be cut very close to the ground. I try to cut them frequently, using their flowers for arrangements in the house. That way the pruning is done on a piecemeal basis and the plant never looks hacked.

            No newsletter would be complete without a cat update. Marcie and I finally found a friend (I use the word loosely) for Slimfast. Her name is Bella. She’s a five year old short hair with the same black and white fur pattern and green eyes as Slim. For the first three weeks after she arrived in the house, she hid out in places I didn’t even know existed. She explored at night. Little by little, with her permission, she has allowed us to approach and pet her. She has bonded with Marcie. Bella spends a lot of time using her little white paws to type on Marcie’s computer keyboard or sits quietly on a nearby chair. Slim still holds the high ground on his three cushions in the living room. I hope that lasts. Bella can out jump him by about three feet. Age may yet rule, as Slimfast’s appetite and swagger show no sign of abating.

            In the last newsletter, Dan pointed out to me that I’d misspelled 'slough.' This, coming from a younger brother and math major to boot, was pretty hard for the old English major to take. I promise everyone, 'slough' will be my last error in the spelling department. I’ll just bone up on my fonetics and never let anything like that happen again, phor sure. 

Sunday
Apr012012

Spring in Sonoma Valley

WALDRON LANDSCAPING NEWSLETTER • APRIL 2012
www.WaldronLandscape.com    WalPlant@vom.com

             All of los guapos are back from their winter hibernation in Mexico and running around the yard in the morning, loading their trucks with bags of fertilizer and all the machinery they need for each day’s work. This is a sure sign (along with such springtime traditions as the red-winged blackbirds staking out their nesting territory in the reed grasses down in the sloughs) that winter is over. I write this knowing that we’ve had more rain since March 21st than we had all winter, and that since the weather is generally colder than normal, nobody really thinks it is spring. I hope it warms up, because if we have another coldish summer and the beloved tomato crop disappoints again, serious mental anguish and other depressive behaviors will set in. We are hoping for some really spectacular weather in the near future and are going to plant our vegetable garden without delay. Juvenal and Fernando have many pepper, tomato and squash seedlings in their little greenhouse that are already several inches high and nearly ready for transplant. We’re going to add mushroom compost to the veggie garden in an effort to spur extra growth and fill all our employees’ shopping bags this summer and fall.

            Nobody has ever accused me of writing a particularly cohesive (or often even a coherent) newsletter, but I’m warning you in advance that the next paragraph may out do itself in this department. You can skip it if you’re feeling a little dizzy already. My wife Marcie wants me to mention that April is organ transplant awareness month. Marcie is busy organizing a small bunch of locals who are organ recipients into an outreach group to educate others about the life saving miracle of a transplant. Our company Kaiser Plan jumped another 13% this year, running the total to over a quarter of a million dollars for the year. I think it’s the best money our company and its employees spend. A two year old son of one of our employees was diagnosed recently with a rare genetic disorder found in only about 400 people worldwide. This syndrome has no cure and will require years of specialized medical care. Given Kaiser’s outstanding response to cases like this, I think it is worth every penny and then some. Managers Jose Hernandez, Dan Waldron, Raffa Casillas and Juvenal Gutierrez are already getting busy. They’ve rehired some of our summer crew and are scheduling lots of work. If you need any help with irrigation startup, mulching, spring color, cleanups or anything else, call early and get on the schedule. Remember that the irrigation systems need to be reactivated about ten days after the rain lets up. We can’t always monitor every system, especially when the timer is inside your house. Keep an eye on your garden and remind us if you see things begin to dry out. It’s a good idea to put new batteries in the timers each spring.

            My brother Dan spends weekdays working for us and returns to his home in Nevada City on the weekends. He volunteers at the local pet shelter every Saturday walking some of the dogs. He brought back a video of a black and white cat at the shelter that could be my cat, Slimfast’s littermate. Slim is a fifteen year old male and the other cat is a five year old female. What a dilemma this is, since I wouldn’t mind another cat for Slim to interact with.  But, would Slim like the company? (His brother Tubby has been gone for two years.) Or would another cat cause him too much stress? I may have to find a cat counselor to help me delve into the intricate feline psychology of this little mystery before making a decision. Trying to understand cats is an area I would never venture alone.