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Recent Happenings

Photo by daven Hsu on Unsplash

Despite our inability to meet in person, EAGC members have been connecting in many ways during the past few months. Our November general meeting via Zoom was well attended, especially for our first venture into remote meetings. Necessary business was conducted and members participated in a discussion of a video we were able to view ahead of time. Our Program chair, Vicki, managed to find an interesting replacement program for the meeting and then facilitate a successful meeting, along with help from Linda S. and Pat N.

The job of Programs has been challenging this season. The schedule of speakers Vicki had so carefully arranged has been tentatively cancelled and she is making plans on a month-by-month basis. Vicki’s been working extra hours to keep our meeting schedule on track and deserves a pat on the back (when we finally get close enough to do so!) Plans for the January 21 meeting are already finalized. You should have received an email with the details. Be sure to check with Vicki if you have any questions about using Zoom.

Not all our traditional activities have been put on hiatus. Jan C. and her Civic Beautification committee did a stellar job of decorating the Exeter Historical Society again this year. EAGC has been making the Historical Society building festive for years and also has provided hand-decorated wreaths for the door of Folsom Tavern.

Jan C.

Jan says “Thanks to all for their help to create a lovely Christmas display at the Historical society!”

The Promise Tree has been unseasonably leafy this fall. Lee sponsored a greens sale, sharing cuttings of greens from her enormous garden. Mary Jo offered some of her colorful holly to members for the holidays. And Johann and Edie, from the Promise Tree committee, arranged for a Cookie Swap that even included delivery. All these activities benefited the Promise Tree and everyone’s participation is very much appreciated.

Johann S.

This is a sampling of beautiful (and scrumptious, I’m certain) holiday cookies that were swapped on December 15.

Johann and Edie asked that these messages be sent to everyone who participated in the Cookie Swap:

Many thanks to all the bakers. What a wonderful assortment we got, and no duplicates. Enjoy the cookies and thank you for the success.” Edie

A big THANK YOU to the members who baked a great variety of holiday treats for the cookie swap. There were no duplicates! Most assortments were delivered today.
And aren’t we lucky to fit this in before the snow comes.
Enjoy those treats and Merry Christmas from the committee.” Johann

Vicki B has recommended the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts quarterly publication and their website as an interesting resource, especially their current winter edition. You can find it here: https://www.gcfm.org/mayflower

Just a reminder to members that the minutes of each general and board meeting are posted on the website. The board has had periodic virtual meetings since September. If you’d like to see the minutes, please click here.

Happy Holidays!

November Happenings

I think most would agree that the highlight of our month was the General Meeting held jointly with the Hampton Garden Club. It was very well-attended by members of both clubs, the speaker was engaging, and we were able to enjoy a number of presentations set up by both clubs.

Speaker Jana Milbocker spoke about inspiring slides from her book “The Garden Tourist.”

From Ann H. and Connie, co-chairs of the Design Committee:

With Thanksgiving around the corner, our arrangers at the November Design Workshop created seasonal fall arrangements using fresh and artificial flora and locally sourced dried and fresh materials from plants and tree foliage.  Participants mixed and matched flowers in a variety of colors and styles using our provided baskets as containers or their own personal containers. All these lovely arrangement were displayed the following morning at our November general meeting.

Arrangers hard at work.

Here are the beautiful results:

What would the holiday season be without holly? Learn all about this seasonal favorite in this month’s Horticulture Tips, provided by Pat N. of the Horticultural Committee. Click here.

Coming up at our January General Meeting …

Thursday, January 16, “Backyard Birds” will be the topic of speaker, Dr. Stephen Hale.

September Happenings

The fall months here in New Hampshire bring us so much beauty — by way of both fall colors and perfect weather. They also bring us some creepy-crawly roommates. For more about these invaders, check out Linda V’s October Hort Tips.

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At our September General Meeting, Betsy, Linda V. and their Environment & Conservation committee gave a short presentation about the 2019 Beautification Mini-Grant award recipients. Seven grants, for a total of $1800, were awarded. The recipients were:

  • Portsmouth – Greengard Center for Autism, entrance planters
  • North Hampton – Rye Beach Little Boar’s Head Garden Club, North Hampton Beach parking lot restoration part 2
  • Exeter – Folsom Acres Condo Association, planting to screen compost area
  • Exeter – Yoga Life Institute, plant herbs and edibles
  • Exeter – Intersection of Drinkwater and Hampton Rd., add stone perimeter to garden begun last year
  • Exeter – Tenant’s Council of the Exeter Housing Authority, add a perennial cutting garden for residents
  • Isle of Shoals – Star Island Flagpole Garden Sustainability Project

Star Island Flagpole garden
Star Islamd
Star Island
EHA Tenant’s Cutting Garden

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Speaking of General Meetings, Susan has in introduced an interesting new project for our meetings:

What will we see at the October meeting?

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How does sipping wine & tasting cheese on a chilly fall evening in a lovely home, surrounded by happy friends, sound? If you’re curious, go the the Promise Tree Page to have your questions answered.

Lee C. has shared some shots of her late season gardens…

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And finally, mysterious aliens were spotted admiring our flower boxes at the Exeter Bandstand. Probably snipped some cuttings to take back home with them.

Intrepid photographer: Jill C

June Happenings

The big news of June is the Annual Luncheon and Auction and we have some great photos of this year’s event, thanks to Ann H. Our attendance this year was up substantially from last year, and auction plants flew off the tables, compliments of Max’s auctioneering skills. Jill C and the Hospitality Committee made it all possible. Here are some of the hightlights…

Lucky winners went home with one of the lovely table centerpieces

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Mark your calendar for our summer get-together on Thursday, July 18, at 11 a.m. at Prescott Park in Portsmouth. Go to the website Calendar for more details.

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If you have any photos of your gardens that you’d like to share, email them to me (LuAnn) at my home email or to eagcnh@gmail.com. I’ll post them periodically through the summer for all to enjoy.

May Happenings

Our garden club year is winding down (already?!) and the calendars for May & June has been filled with Promise Tree parties and field trips, not to mention our regular meetings and the upcoming Annual Spring Luncheon & Auction.

Even though the cool, wet May weather may not have tempted us to tiptoe through the tulips, Max put many of us in the mood to garden with her May Garden Party. Max’s surprisingly lush gardens (Newburyport IS south after all) was a beautiful backdrop for a fun afternoon of refreshments and good company.

Ann H. reports that it was a beautiful mid-May day that we visited Max’s gardens. Following a smorgasbord of treats and delicious drinks on the patio, we were invited to explore her healthy and well-tended gardens. Paths led in several different directions to plant discoveries and wonderful art in all the borders. Every artist has their unique vision and Max’s bright art and whimsey add charm and creativity at every turn. It’s always an inspiration to visit her gardens and fun to return home with new and creative ideas for our own gardens. Thank you, Max, for a wonderful afternoon!

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May’s General Meeting featured Speaker, Penny O’Sullivan, who delivered an enthusiastic presentation on “Spatial Garden Design”. She shared some of her extensive knowledge of garden design, along with beautiful slides of some of her favorite garden designs, some of which were surprising.

Penny O’Sullivan

Also at the May meeting, members voted unanimously to approve our revised ByLaws and our Slate of Officers for 2019-2020. Congratulations to our newly elected Officers: Susan C., President; Linda S., Vice President; Recording Secretary, Lee C.; Corresponding Secretary, Florence W.; and Treasurer, Jill C. The revised ByLaws can be found here.

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Upcoming Club Events

Wednesday, June 5, 9:30 AM. Tour of the Woodman Museum in Dover.

Thursday, June 13, 11 AM. Vicki Burns is hosting a Lunch & Landscape Discussion.

Tuesday, June 18, 10:30 a.m. Our Annual Spring Luncheon and Auction.

Please check the calendar for details about these events.

Local Events

Looking for a garden tour? 2019 is the 40th anniversary of the Museum of Old Newbury’s (MA) annual garden tour. Dates are Saturday, June 8 and Sunday, June 9, from 10 AM to 4 PM. Start the tour at the museum’s Cushing Garden, then set out with a detailed guidebook and map to see Newburyport area gardens. Details can be found here.

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Horticulture Tip

How To Care for the Soil in a Raised Bed

As thoughts of spring enter our minds, many people are starting to design and develop their perfect spring and summer gardens. For many vegetable growers, beds are a great choice because the soil they contain warms up more quickly than ground soil, which can prolong the growing season. Raised beds promote soil drainage, provide adequate space for root growth and they can also be quite beautiful. Lastly, individual raised beds can be managed differently, which allows for growing plants that require specific soil conditions, such as blueberries that need acidic soil.

Temporary raised beds are tilled plots of land that extend 12 or more inches above the ground surface. They are not reinforced, so they must be reshaped over time, especially before each growing season. Permanent raised beds, on the other hand, are boxes made of brick, untreated wood or other safe, rot-resistant material. These beds can be developed to any height, but like temporary beds, they should contain at least 12 inches of soil.

Which choice is best for me?
Temporary beds are fitting for gardeners who can easily bend over for prolonged periods and who have plenty of yard space. These also work well where soils are uncontaminated, productive and easy to manage.

Permanent raised beds suit gardeners with limited yard space and soil that contains contaminants (such as lead) or presents challenges like a high clay content, low fertility, poor drainage, compaction and so on. Permanent raised beds are also a boon to those with physical limitations that make bending over a challenge, and those who simply enjoy the look of a contained bed.

Soil Maintenance
Once you’ve created your perfect raised bed, it is important that you maintain the health of its soil. The Natural Resource Conservation Service defines soil health as a soil’s capacity to function as an ecosystem that supports plants, animals and humans. Indicators of healthy soil include a loose granular structure, good drainage, moisture retention and a relatively dark color (influenced by organic matter). Here’s how to maintain soil health in your raised beds:

Avoid soil compaction. Compaction is the process of increasing the soil’s density by removing pores and damaging soil structure. This makes it difficult for roots to grow and limits roots’ access to water, air and nutrients. The number-one rule for reducing compaction is to never step or kneel on your garden soil. To reduce this desire, design garden beds that are no more than four feet wide. Also, mulch the paths surrounding your beds. This will highlight their location and will provide padding for the soil.

Promote soil drainage. For both temporary and permanent raised beds, this can be done by digging beds that are deeper than 12 inches. Tilling to deeper depths may prevent water from ponding around the root zone, unless you are already working with very wet soils. (If you’re dealing with contaminated soils, please first seek professional guidance before developing a permanent raised bed.)

Amend your soil with organic matter every spring. Organic matter is a great source of slow-released plant nutrients. It encourages soil structure to develop by holding soil particles together like glue. It also attracts beneficial organisms, which also help develop soil structure. Structural development improves water infiltration, gas exchange and increases soil’s resilience to compaction.

Cover your soil, especially during the off-season. Naked soil is vulnerable to wind and water erosion. Both processes effect soils in different ways, but both lead to loss of soil and organic matter, reduced water infiltration and structural loss. Cover crops are a great solution, as they also provide additional nutrients to your soil when they are tilled into the garden bed before planting crops in the spring. Mulching with leaves or straw is another viable option, as these are easily accessible, decompose relatively quickly and effectively cover soil.

Managing for soil health is one key step toward having a successful garden this summer. Avoiding compaction, digging deep, applying organic matter and keeping the soil covered are simple measures that will reap great rewards.

Soil scientist Mary Tiedeman is a Research Assistant at Florida International University. This article is presented by the Soil Science Society of America. Learn more at soilsmatter.wordpress.com.