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October Happenings

As we busily gear up for our debut appearance at the Yuletide Fair on November 19, let’s take a look at what’s been going on for the past month. The Awards Committee, under Mary Jo C.’s expert leadership, provided an impressive program for the October general meeting. We were fortunate that a number of award recipients were present to accept their awards and discuss their gardens.

The award for Outstanding Civic Garden was presented to Eric Chinburg, President and CEO of Chinburg Properties, Chestnut Street Apartments in Exeter (Accepting the award on his behalf was Lexi Jackson, property manager of Chestnut St. Apts.) Also receiving the award were Barbara H. Beardsley, designer and lead gardener of the sustainable meadow at the Chestnut St. Apts. and Ann Smith, the assistant gardener. The Outstanding Residential Garden Award was presented jointly to Sherri and Kim Brown, 12 Brown Rd. in Hampton Falls.

Photos of the Brown’s lovely gardens:

The “Meadow of Hope” at the Chestnut St. Apartments:

The Hort Table at the October meeting held a surprisingly colorful selection of garden cuttings for this time of year. Committee chair, Ann H. would like to thank the members who shared horticulture from their gardens at the meeting. With variable weather becoming our new normal, it was good to see what fall plants were flourishing in spite of the dry conditions in our New Hampshire Seacoast.

Other highlights from the October meeting:

Our November General Meeting, on Nov. 17th, will feature speakers whose previous presentation was cancelled due to Covid precautions. Jana Milbocker & Joan Butler from Enchanted Gardens in Massachusetts will speak on “Artists’ Gardens in New England.” Some of our most beloved painters, sculptors and authors were inspired by the gardens they created. Visit the private havens of Edith Wharton, Julian Alden Weir, Childe Hassam, Daniel Chester French, Emily Dickinson, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Celia Thaxter and others. Learn about the gardens’ histories, design and horticultural highlights in this richly illustrated presentation.

Making for a busy week, our general meeting will be followed the very next day by our Yuletide Fair workshop, at the Stratham Municipal Center, from 1 to 5 PM. Expect amazing creativity to happen as we assemble floral arrangements for the fair. This will be a fun and productive event. If you haven’t signed up yet, check with Ann H. or Lee C. to get the details. And then bright and early the following day, Nov. 19, members will be transporting our creations to the Cooperative Middle School in Stratham for the fair, which starts at 9 AM. Volunteers have been recruited for our sales table, set-up, and clean-up. A large crowd typically shops at this fair, so we’re anticipating a successful (and probably exhausting) day.

Summer Happenings

Designing Women Place Second

We’re excited to report that Lee C,, with design assistance from Ann H., placed second at the Ogunquit Art Museum’s Art in Bloom event last weekend. This is even more of an accomplishment since it was Lee’s first time. Lee was happy to receive welcome comments from judges and exhibitors and said, “though it was sometimes a pain, I do appreciate having been given such an interesting and challenging opportunity.”

Photos of other entries, compliments of Ann H.:

Our June Plant Auction and Luncheon was well-attended and festive. Most wore hats to help celebrate the event and hats were the table centerpieces, decorated with live flowers by members of the Hospitality Committee. Max F. made sure the auction was fun and efficient and members enjoyed a tasty meal topped off by a strawberry dessert. We even managed to take care of business: the new Executive Board was sworn in. Many thanks to Jill C. and her Hospitality crew for another perfect Spring celebration. (Thanks to Patti Smith for the photos.)

Have a hankering to see some gardens? The Candia Garden Club invites you to their first Garden Tour on Saturday, July 16, 9 AM to 1 PM. Cost is $15. Tickets can be purchased by contacting Judy at Judyjs3@comcast.net.

Garden weeding is an ongoing task for all gardeners. How do you weed your garden and be kind to your bones, back and joints? How do you avoid a compression fracture? Here’s a video from Melioguide demonstrating how to safely weed your garden. How to Weed Your Garden

To close this Happenings in style, here are more photos of Exeter, perfectly captured by

Lynda B.

March Happenings

It’s safe to say that spring is in the air. Even though that air might feel damp and cold today and snow clouds are hovering overhead, most of us are sensing a certain optimism that we’ll soon be poking around in our gardens again. All we have to do is look for the early bulbs popping out of the soil in our sunny beds for evidence.

James Brewer, our February speaker, showed us what can be achieved in our landscapes this summer – if we are amazingly talented or if we have him design our gardens. Attendees enjoyed slides of his spectacular landscape design work, along with his descriptions of the projects and of his transition from novice English gardener to established New England landscape designer.

In addition to an interesting selection of very healthy houseplants and tempting homemade snacks, Linda S. provided servings of Green Goddess soup for members. She has shared the recipe for this delicious (and very green) soup – it can be found in the Recipe Box on the website. (Thanks to Patti S. & Ann H. for the photos.)

As a followup to his appearance at our meeting, James Brewer sent us this note:
‘Dear ladies / members of the Stratham & Exeter Garden Club’.

I wanted to send you all a huge thank you for making Bill and I feel so welcome and staying awake while I talked to you all today.
Thank you for the opportunity to share a snippet of my story and discuss some of my gardens both large and small.
I wish you well for the coming season and hope you all enjoy your gardens, have good health and bountiful blooms in 2022…

Cheers,
James & Mr. Billster…

Club News:
Our Budget Committee met on March 3rd to draw up a budget for next year. The membership will be voting on the budget at the May meeting. In the meantime, there are a few vacancies on the board for committee chairs for next year. If you are interested in getting to know more members or becoming more involved, please contact Linda S. to discuss the positions that are available. Current and former board members will tell you that being on the board is the “funnest” part of being a garden club member. And if you’re interested in helping out on the Nominating Committee, there is still time to sign up, by contacting Linda S.

Our club is very excited to announce that, in conjunction with the Exeter Library, we’ll be hosting horticulturalist and garden historian John Forti, on May 24th at 6PM in the library’s Meeting Room. He will be giving a talk on heirloom gardening. John has directed gardens for Plimoth Plantation Museum, Strawberry Banke Museum, Massachusetts Horticultural Society, and Bedrock Gardens. He also serves as a regional Slow Food Governor and biodiversity specialist for Slow Food USA. Here is a synopsis of his presentation:

The Heirloom Gardener – Traditional Plants and Skills is John Forti’s newest presentation.  It draws from his new book of traditional plants and skills for the modern world.  Richly illustrated with period images and contemporary woodcuts, his PowerPoint shares inspiration from our long history of heirloom preservation, garden craft and homestead lifeways.  Artisanal gardening lifestyles that are helping us to rebuild vibrant local agricultural economies and celebrate sustainable cottage industries that are contributing to our new, homegrown American arts & crafts movement and backyard environmentalism.  At a time when we could all use a little good news, we hope you will join us for a refreshing look at how you can make a difference and build habitat in your own backyard and community. 

He also has a book. These days, we all need some good news and a way to participate in meaningful change. The Heirloom Gardener-Traditional Plants and Skills for the Modern World is a book for gardeners who want to deepen their knowledge and improve life for families, pollinators and wildlife in their own backyards.  It’s a love poem to the earth; a map to the art of living intentionally and a guidepost for environmental gardeners and artisans.  It unearths old-ways, storied plants and artisanal life-skills; like seed-saving, herbalism, foraging, distillation, ethnobotany and organics which contribute to a new 21st century arts and crafts movement. With woodcuts from Caldecott Medal VT artist Mary Azarian, The Heirloom Garden offers a dose of wild hope for a weary nation. It is available through this link.

“A Garden for Pollinators & Wildlife: Natural Landscaping for a Better Yard” is a program being offered at the Brentwood Library on Tuesday, March 15 from 7 to 8 pm. The talk will be presented by Vicki J. Brown, NH Natural Resources Steward, Pollinator Pathways NH Organizing Founder and Speaking for Wildlife volunteer. She will provide insights on ways to attract butterflies, bees, birds and other wildlife to your yard. You can sign up by clicking here.

Did you realize that saffron, that pricey and difficult-to-access spice is now being grown in New England? Here’s an interesting article, provided by Linda S., that explains the how and the where of local saffron: Why the Most Expensive Spice in the World Is Now Growing in Hundreds of Small American Farms.

February Happenings

Members who attended our January General Meeting learned all about herbs from Sarah Marcoux of the UNH Extension office, took advantage of our Sales Table, met a new member, and of course, enjoyed homemade refreshments compliments of our Hospitality Committee.

We also got a close-up look at Karen W.’s impressive landscaping plan for the American Independence Museum in Exeter. As many of you know, an EAGC committee is working with the museum to rejuvenate their landscaping, in particular the beds in front of the building. Our club, as well as the museum, are very fortunate to have Karen’s expertise as a landscape designer in creating a plan for beautiful, historical, and practical garden beds. Although some of our members may choose to volunteer some maintenance, the bulk of the bed installation will be handled by a landscaping company – good news for those of us who no longer relish doing the heavy lifting!

A portion of the site plan

Garden Design will be the topic at our February 17 general meeting. Our speaker, James Brewer, is a landscape designer who has been working within gardens since his boyhood years in England. He came from a sleepy village in Northamptonshire with natural stone thatch collages, an 18th century church ringing its lethargic bell and an abundance of wildlife within its rolling fields. Influenced by his surroundings James started his landscaping business in England in 1995 by lawn mowing and weeding, certainly humble beginnings.

A unique garden project in 2006 led to his enthusiastic personality and work catching the eye of the BBC and various publications in garden magazines.  In 2014, James moved to New Hampshire and embarked on a steep learning curve with our climate and vastly different plants.  In a short time, James has helped dozens of clients achieve new gardens and several ‘Signature’ projects throughout the state. 

These include a small Pocket / Courtyard Garden in Portsmouth; Downton Abbey / Baroque creation in Dover; and a ‘Testimony in Granite’ garden, which is a ‘Wolfe-henge’ style garden in the mountains of Wolfeboro overlooking Lake Wentworth.  Each of his designs are highly unique and combine aspects of classical English garden design while embracing the best plants and materials available to us in New Hampshire. We’re certain to see photos of some of James’ lovely gardens.

It’s that time of the club year when a Nominating Committee is formed to look for new officers and committee chairs. Although many will be returning to their positions, there will be some openings. Linda S. is asking members to contact her if they are interested in serving on the board and/or being on the Nominating Committee. On March 3rd, the Budget Committee will be meeting to prepare a budget for next year. If you chair a committee, please submit your budget request to Susan C. before then. And if you’d like to serve on the Budget Committee, contact Susan or Linda.

Although the Environment & Conservation Committee has put their traditional Mini-Grant program on hiatus for the year, they have been busy formulating a Pollinator Corridor grant plan in conjunction with the Exeter Library’s speaker program. The grants of $100 will be available to Exeter residents who will use the funds to plant pollinator-friendly seeds or plants in an effort to create a pollinator corridor in Exeter. More details about the grants will be available soon.

For those of us who are weary of the winter whiteness, here’s something colorful to feast our eyes on. The Amercan Horticultural Society has released its new plant recommendations for 2022. Even if we never plant one of these beauties, it’s uplifting just to look at the pictures. Click on this link and enjoy.

Photo by Skyler Ewing from Pexels

January Happenings

In this edition we’ll, be reviewing some holiday fun in addition to updating the club’s January plans. One of the most anticipated December events is Betsy’s Swap Shop Yankee Swap, a one-of-a-kind holiday celebration replete with one-of-a-kind “gifts” for every participant. Betsy hosted some members who were new to the swap shop experience, providing extra entertainment for everyone. And as usual, she outdid herself with a table overflowing with homemade goodies.

Promise Tree News: As we start a new season, the Promise Tree is offering tea wallets and Wonder Wallets by LuAnn and homemade soups from Linda S. She makes hearty soups, stews and chilis and will offer them at $8 per 24 oz. container.
Linda has offered to bring one container of soup to the next meeting for those interested. Probably a ham, chorizo and white bean stew. Please order by contacting Linda, as she is limited to 3 for this month.
Do you have some Christmas gifts you would like to pass on? Our Sale table will continue into the New Year and we look forward to your unique offerings.

Vicki has recommended checking out Pollinator Pathways, an organization dedicated to establishing pollinator-friendly habitats and food sources for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinating insects and wildlife. They provide resources for learning more about planting pollinator-friendly gardens. Click on this link for information on programs and activities in the local area.

While we’re talking about pollinators, “My Garden of a Thousand Bees” is a PBS video recommended by Ann H. It’s “a story of surprise and revelation. A wildlife cameraman spends his time during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown filming the bees in his urban garden and discovers the many diverse species and personalities that exist in this insect family.” This is available on Amazon Prime for $5.99 or go to this link.

Our January 20th general meeting will be held in person at the Stratham Fire Station. The meeting will include a discussion of the video presentations on Microgreens that we were able to view on January 3rd and 12th. Be sure to check out the Promise Tree for new leaves while you’re there. Our Sales Table will also be set up.

Many of us fondly remember Terri Donsker, a club member for many years, who was also an extraordinary gardener, photographer, and nature lover. In fact, many of us treasure the plant cuttings (especially succulents!) and small Stewartia trees she generously shared. I just happened upon an article by Terri in “The Cook’s Cook”, a digital food magazine published by Denise Landis, another former club member and president. Terri’s article is titled “Suet, Seeds and Safety: Feeding Birds in Winter” and includes several of her recipes for homemade suet balls. Click on this link to see her recipes and some of her wonderful photography.