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May Happenings

Douglas Cygan, Invasive Species Coordinator at the State of NH Dept. of Agriculture, shared his conprehensive knowledge of NH Invasive Species with members at our April meeting. Doug is THE authority on this topic in New Hampshire and is obviously very passionate about his topic. Everyone who attended came away with a much greater understanding of the negative effects of invasives and how those are being addressed.

The Hospitality committee, coordinated by Jill C., did its usual magic, providing a refreshment table that was both spring-like and mouthwatering.

Treasures Unveiled – A Promise Tree Event

Lee C., a passionate collector of Japanese art, welcomed club members to her Asian room to explore the history, the craftsmanship and sprit of her collections. Starting with the bright red wedding kimono she stands before, she shared the intricacies and history of many of her pieces from jewelry to hair ornaments, ceramics, furniture, cloth, carvings, and paintings. Favorite items were passed around to admire the details and artwork, such as the delicate netsukes, tiny carved masterpieces worn on obi sashes of kimonos.

Following her presentation, Lee gathered her guests around the table for a traditional Japanese lunch, explaining each delicious course as it was brought to the table. Everyone savored the flavors of every successive dish. It was a wonderful time of camaraderie, hospitality, and teaching in Lee’s comfortable home.

Board News

  • Our Indoor Yard Sale is tomorrow (Saturday, the 11th). Remember your Baked Goods and Yard Sale items – which should be brought to the Stratham Municipal Center between 2 and 5 Friday or by 8 on Saturday.
  • Returning and incoming officers and committee chairs are invited to the June transition meeting on Monday, June 17, at LuAnn F.’s home. Please reserve the date; more details to follow.
  • Time to renew your membership! Please download the Registration Form from the website (here) and bring it along with your check to the May 16 meeting.
  • If you haven’t signed up for our Spring Luncheon and Auction yet, contact Paige C. The deadline is May 25th!

Lee C., with the assistance of Ann H., is again representing our garden club with an arrangement at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art’s annual Art in Bloom event, Friday, June 21 through Sunday, June 23. Some of you will remember that on Lee’s first attempt at this event two years ago, she placed second! Lee has just chosen the artwork she will be interpreting and has shared a sneak preview.

‘Tis the season for Plant Sales! Patti E. has done some excellent research and compiled a list of local sales, which she posted on our Facebook page (find it here – visit and like it often!) Here’s a brief rundown of her efforts. She also offers precautionary advice regarding invasive jumping worms.
A gentle reminder to wash the roots of your plants before transplanting to prevent the spread of jumping worms and their eggs.

Other Local Events

  • The Portsmouth Garden Club Literature in Bloom is displaying floral arrangements at Portsmouth Public Library. This year they are featuring Children’s books. Display is free and open to the public beginning at 1:00pm on Wednesday, May 15 through Friday, May 17 at noon.
  • Online. Emily May, Pollinator Conservation Specialist, Xerces Society will present “In the Life of Nocturnal Pollinators” on May 23 from 1:00 – 2:00pm. Learn about the pollinators that come out to work as others turn in for the evening. Moths, flies, beetles, and other dusk and night-time pollinators play important roles in pollinating wild and managed plants. Free. Click here to register.
Wikimedia Commoms

This Month’s Big Question: Does leaving the dandelions in my lawn benefit pollinators?
I know of a certain husband (who will remain un-named) who strongly believes that dandelions serve no purpose other than to aggravate lawn lovers. Steph Sosinski, Home Horticulture Program Manager for UNH, has written an article that should help put that question to rest. Here’s her opinion.

Member Ginny T. was fortunate enough to be hiking in Leavenworth, WA when she came across some amazing flowers – Chocolate Lillies:

April Happenings

April is National Garden Month

Let’s jump into Spring with some gorgeous floral arrangements, courtesy of our very own designing members. At the March 28th Design Workshop and under the direction of chair, Ann H., members made Easter-themed arrangements, proving once again what a talented group of arrangers we are. Enjoy the results:

And here are some of the creators at work:

These arrangements were made using Sideau, a floral foam alternative crafted from Earthwool, a natural material derived from volcanic igneous rock and fortified with a binder free from plastics and formaldehyde.The floral bricks can be reused or composted, added to the garden soil or as a starter base for seeds. Using this eco-friendly solution to floral foam, we not only reduced waste but contributed to a healthier environment.

In other spring news, our March speaker was Jamie Colen, who has been Garden Director of the beautiful Fuller Gardens for over 20 years. He impressed attendees with his extensive knowledge of soil dynamics and his passionate belief in natural, versus synthetic, soil management.

Jamie Colen

Members brought Spring to the meeting by displaying their first garden blooms on the Hort Table. A surprising number of cheerful flowers made their appearance, including Iris, hellebores, Pieris japonica, pussy willow, Johnny jump ups, and snowdrops.

And of course, the Hospitality Committee, put on a seasonal show at the refreshment table:

The March meeting also featured an Environment & Conservation presentation on ground insects, those little critters who work busily and mostly out of sight on our soil and plant roots. In addition, Patti E. offered members seeds from the club’s Seed Library, which is open for business again at the Exeter Public Library.

Thanks to Ann H for all the wonderful photos!

A great many members participated in the club’s 2024 Member Survey, which was collected at the February meeting. Ginny T., our Treasurer, gave a brief overview of the results at the March meeting. Although opinions and suggestions varied widely, their were some common responses that will help guide the club in a direction that maintains the relevance and value to our members. More information about the survey will be forthcoming.

The Programs Committee hosted a very elegant “Mingle, Munch and Moot” luncheon on March 14 to explore new ideas for possible meeting programs. Ann S. hosted the group in her beautiful home, while Vicky B. and Mary Anne J. helped with prep and refreshments. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon getting to know each other better. And there was actually some serious discussuion about programs!

Several members of the Civic Beautification Committe put together a cheerful spring welcome for anyone visiting the Stratham Municipal Offices. Our club has adopted the somewhat barren entry as one of our beautification projects and our contributions have been greatly appreciated.

Wellington Gardens is open for the season. Their annual PERENNIAL SALE will be from Saturday, April 27 – Friday, May 3 or until sold out. Sale hours: 7 am – 6 pm. All 4-inch Perennials are $3 each.
Their ANNUALS SPECIAL is Saturday, May 4 – Sunday, May 12 or until sold out, from 7 am – 6 pm. Select Annuals 6-packs are $2.50 each. They’re at 89 Rowell Road East, Brentwood.

UNH Extension has published two articles of special interest to spring gardeners. “How to Utilize Raised Beds for Small Space Gardening” explains how raised beds can be be used to grow flowers, vegetables or even fruit. Find the article here.
And UNH Extension’s question of the week is “Which Spring Ephemerals Are Best for New Hampshire Gardens?” Ephemerals emerge early in the spring, flower and go dormant by summer, only to emerge again the following spring. This article describes those that flourish in NH. You can read about them here.

Spring beauty (Claytonia virginiana) image by Ivy Main, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Common

April 11, 12:00 – 1:00pmBuilding Resilient Landscapes” Online, Free
Presented by Dan Jaffe Wilder, Director of Applied Ecology, Norcross Wildlife Foundation
In this changing world, it behooves us to build resiliency into every landscape. The days of landscapes dedicated to beauty alone are passing. People are demanding ecologically sensitive landscapes; they want reduced lawn, reduced maintenance, and greater wildlife value. Register here.

April 16 Traffic Stopping Curb Appeal by Kerry Ann Mendez
Hosted by the Rye Driftwood Garden Club. https://www.ryenhgardenclub.org/programs for info.

April 17, 10:30 AM – 12. Flower Arranging presented by Jayne Densmore
Portsmouth Garden Club, held at the Urban Forestry Center, Elwyn Rd., Portsmouth. They ask that non member guests donate $5 to cover cost.

April 22, 2:00 – 3:30pmEdible Native Plants” Online, Free
Presented by Russ Cohen, Naturalist, edible native plant seed collector, propagator & planter
The fact that many of our native species are edible by people too provides an additional incentive for people to plant them in their yards that might otherwise be insufficiently induced to do so for the ecological rationale alone. Register here.

April 24, 7:00 – 8:00pmRethinking Gardening” Online, Free
Hosted by York Public Library. Presented by Wild Seed Project
Our garden plant choices can determine which species can seek refuge in our gardens, how much species diversity we see in residential areas and help minimize impacts of climate change such as flooding and drought. Register here.

May 8, 7:00 – 8:30pmGardening Among Hungry Mammals” Online, Free
Presented by Nancy Lawson, Author, The Humane Gardener
Discover how a combination of strategies—including mixtures of preferred and unpalatable species, strategic plantings along well-used pathways, and gentle exclusion techniques—can help you trade resistance for peaceful coexistence. Register here.


Lee C. is creating Gnomes again – this time a special Easter Gnome.

March Happenings

Brian McPherson inspired members to work toward “More Blossoms, Less Mowing” at our February general meeting. Using his own Exeter home gardens as examples, Brian provided lots of planting ideas to replace the typical manicured lawn, which provides so little benefit to our pollinators and our environment.

With his slide presentation, he also showed the results of his volunteer work reviving an Audubon Center rain garden and developing a pollinator meadow.

Meeting attendees also learned about predatory insects, thanks to the Environment & Conservation committee via posters, handouts, and a presentation of some surprising predator habits and preferences. Several sign-up sheets for upcoming social events were also made available.

Upcoming Club Events

The Programs committee has arranged a Mingle, Munch and Moot Promise Tree gathering on Thursday, March 14, from 2-5 PM at the home of Ann S. in Exeter. We’ll be meeting over savory snacks to discuss possible program options for future club meetings. There is still room for others to join the gathering. Contact Vicki B. if you’d like to sign up. The Promise Tree donation is $5.

Ann H. and her Horticulture Committee are planning a Spring Design Workshop for Thursday, March 28th from 2-4.

As always, participants will be creating a beautiful floral arrangement to brighten up their homes – this time for spring. If you’d like to be part of the creativity, contact Ann H.

Another club event in the planning stages is our annual Indoor Yard Sale fundraiser, which is scheduled for Saturday, May 11, 8 AM to noon, at the Stratham Municipal Center. Members will be asked to bring plants, bargains and baked goods for sale at our club’s tables. Signup sheets for help with set-up on Friday and sales on Saturday will be available at the March meeting. Details will be emailed to members.

Other Upcoming Events

March 16 (9:30am to 5:30pm) and March 17 (9:30am to 4:30pm) Old House & Barn Expo – New Hampshire Preservation Alliance at Saint Anselm College, Manchester, NH. Featured speaker Henry Homeyer, The Gardening Guy’s lecture on Saturday at 3pm: Great Plants for Historic Properties: How to select and grow trees, shrubs and flowers that have stood the test of time. Go here for tickets.

March 19 Jane Raymond will speak on Successful Vegetable Gardening. Sponsored by the Rye Driftwood Garden Club. Contact here for info.

March 20, 11am – 12pm at the Urban Forestry Center, 147 Elwyn Rd, Portsmouth. Shaker Herbs and Gardening. Author Galen Beale will speak about growing herbs and explore the Shakers’ herb gardening heritage. Sponsored by the Portsmouth Garden Club. Guests are always welcome at PGC events. Arrive at 10:00am for light refreshments and social time, followed by a business meeting or arrive at 11:00am for our presentation. We ask nonmembers to donate $5 which is used to help defray speaker costs. Contact us at portsmouthnhgardenclub@gmail.com for more details.

April 10, 1-3 pm. “Spring is Sprung” by Bert Ford, one of New England’s leading floral design professionals. At the Fellowship Hall of First Parish Church in York, Maine. For info, go here.

Online Programs
March 28, 1-2 pm. In the Life of the Bumble Bee Queen (and the Cuckoo too!), with Rich Hatfield. ONLINE, hosted by Xerces Society. Take a deep dive into the reproductive females of bumble bees, including cuckoo bumble bees. Register here. Free
March 28, 7 pm. Spread, Impact, and Control of Jumping Worms, with Josef Görres. ONLINE, hosted by URI Cooperative Extension. An important presentation summarizing new research on jumping worm invasions in New England. The lecture will touch on identification, how they spread, their impact on plants and the environment, and new developments in how to control them. Register here. Free.

UNH Extension has put together an excellent article on preparing gardening tools for the upcoming season. Click here for advice on getting your pruners in shape for spring gardening.

Photo by Gary Barnes: pexels.com

February Happenings

Members had garlic on their minds at the January general meeting. Speaker Margaret Witham filled us in on all the details about that pungent, spicy vegetable that smells heavenly in food but not so great on the breath. Margaret’s instructions on growing garlic in our climate likely inspired some members to give it a try.

Margaret Witham

Our photograper, Ann H., missed her calling – she would be excellent as a food photographer for Cook’s Illustrated!

Coming up at our Feb. 15th general meeting – UNH Extension Master Gardener Brian McPherson will share his strategies for success in creating gardens that produce “More Blossoms, Less Mowing.” His illustrated slide lecture will highlight recent volunteer work reviving an Audubon Center rain garden, the development of a pollinator meadow, and the transformation of his home gardens. If you share your yard with someone who prefers a broad expanse of Scotts-green lawn, bring him along. He may be persuaded to convert.

Also at the meeting, Environment and Conservation will be presenting Predatory Insects – as in parasitic flies and wasps, lacewings, ladybugs, ant lions, tiger beetles, ambush bugs, praying mantis, and dragonflies, among others. Learn to love your six-legged garden helpers! Or at least tolerate them.

In other E&C news, the Mini-Grant Program for 2024 is officially underway and is again looking for applicants who are creating or adding to pollinator gardens in Exeter and Stratham. If you know anyone who could benefit from one of the grants, refer them to our website. There’s info on the home page about the mini-grant requirements and a link to a printable application. They can find that link here.

Image by starline on Freepik

Please don’t forget to fill out your Member Survey and bring it with you to the February meeting or mail it in the enclosed envelope if you can’t attend the meeting. Everyone’s feedback is very important to the future direction of our club. You should have received your survey in the mail this past week. If you didn’t receive it, please contact Nickky J. to get a copy or look for it at the February meeting.

February 20 – Rye Driftwood Garden Club presents Joe Marttila owner of SeaBee Honey. For info, go to https://www.ryenhgardenclub.org/programs.
February 21 – “Monet’s Garden at Giverny” presented by Martha Chiarachiaro. Sponsored by the Portsmouth Garden Club. Go to https://www.portsmouthnhgardenclub.com/projects for details.
March 6 – “The Secret Lives of Native Bees” by Dr. Nick Dorian, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Chicago Botanic Garden. 7:00 – 8:30 pm. Free ONLINE via Zoom Webinar. Register here.
March 13 – Program: “Discovering New England Stone Walls” by Kevin Gardner. Sponsored by Old York Garden Club. Info at https://www.oldyorkgardenclub.org/calendar/.
February – Now is the perfect time for a winter bark amble in the Arnold Arboretum, with a focus on trees with smooth bark, according to director William (Ned) Friedman. Click here to see examples and to get more info.


January Happenings

Wikimedia Commons

Garlic is on the menu for our January 18th general meeting. Margaret Witham will be speaking about “How to Grow Garlic”. Margaret, along with Rebecca Hennessy, are co-owners of Backyard Garlic. Their business started in 2015 literally in their backyards growing garlic to dehydrate and sell in grinder jars. They wanted to grow and create a product from healthy soil and organic practices for their community.

The business continues to grow. Currently, their garlic grinder jar and refill bags are sold in 45 stores and farm stands throughout New England, and they ship their product all over the country. Margaret will be bringing some of their custom grinders and refill packets, available in local markets, for sale to the membership. Check out their website http//www.backyardgarlic.farm.

Join us on Thursday, the 18th in the Morgera Room at the Stratham Fire Station – not only for garlic inspiration, but also for our E&C presentation, sales table, Promise Tree, refreshments, and especially – great company! Doors open at 9 a.m., meeting starts at 10.

As promised in our last Happenings, here are photos from Betsy V.’s rowdy Swap Shop Party. Betsy once again outdid herself, both in her carefully curated “gift” selection and her festive holiday goodies. Every participant left with a big smile, a full stomach, and a priceless artifact from the Candia dump. What better way to celebrate the holidays?

Let’s start with the refreshments…

And how about those gifts?

The gnomes at the Stratham Municipal Center offices decided to celebrate New Year’s Eve this year, with a little assistance from Lee C. After successfully spreading holiday cheer to everyone who visited the offices, the gnomes have been retired for the season. Once snow season has passed, Lee, Ellen, and Linda S. will be assembling a new seasonal display for the area.

Speaking of gnomes, Lee was inspired to make a mini-gnome table-top decoration for her home. She looking for a few members who can help design a similar gnome for the garden club to sell at the next Yuletide Fair. Contact Lee to share your inspiration!

In Pollinator and Other News…

Flowers are reacting to the shrinking number of pollinators by evolving to self-pollinate, according to a recent study at the French National Centre for Scientific Research. The flowers they studied were saving energy by producing less nectar for pollinators and instead self-pollinating. Scientists are stunned at the speed of this evolution which is disrupting 100 million years of evolutionary history. To read more, go to articles in The Guardian or Science Alert.

The Rye Driftwood Garden Club will be hosting Darcy Boyle, floral designer, on Jan. 16, 9:30 a.m. at the Rye Congregational Church in Rye. https://www.ryenhgardenclub.org/programs

Owen Wormser, author of “Lawns Into Meadows,” will be speaking on “Meadowmaking for Beginners” on February 7, 2024 (Wednesday) from 7:00 – 8:30 pm ONLINE via Zoom Webinar. Sponsored by New England Botanic Garden. Register here.