Give and Take Continues . . .

April 27, 2010

It’s official. My perennial garden is black. That’s right, black, thanks to Sue Chinchiolo’s excess mulch. 

Sue’s landscape will be one of six gardens featured in the San Joaquin County Master Gardeners’ Garden Tour, May 2. (Click on Events for details.) Although Sue keeps her yard exceptionally manicured, there are always last-minute details or incomplete projects to finish, so I offered to help. 

Sue emailed scheduled days to me from which to choose. When I read that three other friends (whom I haven’t seen in some time) would be helping on Friday, I immediately chose the same day. 

Julie, Sharon, and Nancy didn’t know I would be helping. After they arrived, we shared hugs, big smiles, and happy greetings. Then we dug in, literally, into four yards of black mulch. 

For three hours, we top-dressed Sue’s front and back beds. Stepping back to view our work, we were satisfied. Sue was especially pleased. The rich black carpet emphasized the swath of color and texture in her beautiful beds. However, we only used half of the mulch. The nurseryman over estimated! 

Left to right: Sharon McDonald, Sue Chinchiolo, Nancy Rubey, Julie Moorehouse


Eager to get the mulch out of her driveway, and soon, Sue offered it to us. Sharon made a couple of calls and was waiting to hear back when I went home. Then, a couple of days later Sue sent an email offering the mulch to me. I was thrilled to have it. That evening, Joe, and I scooped it up shovel-full-by-shovel-full into the back of his truck, and then unloaded it, shovel-full-by-shovel-full, at the base of the garden steps. 

Yesterday morning, I removed the hay used in my perennial beds as mulch. The hay was molding in our barn and since buying mulch was out of the question this year, free hay was the next best material to retain moisture. Once I removed the hay, I hauled shovel-full-by-shovel-full into the garden. There was enough mulch to cover most of the main beds. 

Mulch was not on my wish list mentioned a few weeks back. I thought it too costly. So this unexpected gift is even more astounding. When I thought I was going to aid a friend, Sue ended up helping me. 

Suggestion:  Don’t use black mulch in vegetable beds. It’s chemically treated and spray painted. 


Above:  just one corner of  what you will see on the garden tour at Sue Chinchiolo’s home.  

Copyright © 2010 Dianne Marie Andre



  1. What a sweet post. I am so thankful for everyone’s help on Friday. The mulch retrieval was a treat for both of us.


  2. Great article, Dianne. It was so nice to see you at Sue’s. Thank you for helping us dress Sue’s garden in preparation for the MG Garden Tour. Congratulations on completing the Master Gardener Program.


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